Shannon Smit: An award-winning offering
Shannon Smit, CEO and founding director of Smart Business Solutions, was recently named the SMSF Adviser of the Year at the 2022 Women in Finance Awards. She sat down with SMSF Adviser to discuss her journey from globetrotting with a big four firm to providing SMSF advice on the Mornington Peninsula.
Shannon Smit established her practice 15 years ago and just two weeks after the birth of her second child. Her career with EY had taken her from Melbourne to the Czech Republic, Amsterdam, and New York.
After settling on the Mornington Peninsula, she saw an opportunity to share her skills with the local community.
“I set up Smart Business Solutions from home in 2007 and have grown the business organically. We have never purchased a client base. Since the beginning we have attracted clients who are aligned to the way our firm works and have a growth mindset.”
For Ms Smit, it’s not about the size of the client — what matters more is where they are and where they want to be. As its name suggests, Smart Business Solutions works with growing SMEs that initially require tax and accounting services.
“The natural progression from there is to build up your super, especially business owners in their 30s and 40s. You don't want to have a sprint in the last few years just before you retire. You want to have a slow stroll into retirement.”
One common strategy among business owners is to acquire a commercial property within an SMSF. They can then operate their business from those premises and take care of their nest egg simultaneously.
“I have a client who bought a factory in their SMSF 10 years ago for $1.2 million. It was recently valued at $3 million,” Ms Smit says.
While she may have won the award for SMSF Adviser of the Year, Ms Smit wears multiple hats as the CEO of Smart Business Solutions. She’s also a certified financial adviser, accountant and mortgage broker. This suite of skills allows her to provide holistic advice to her clients, rather than sending them away to other providers.
“I did have a lot of frustration dealing with mortgage brokers, especially mortgage brokers trying to do SMSF lending and not understanding SMSF structures.”
Having a sound understanding of property, financial advice, accounting, tax and SMSFs means few things are missed.
“A solution could be great from a tax perspective but have a negative impact from a financing perspective or even from a financial advice perspective. Having oversight of all of those areas means that I'm always looking at the bigger picture. I’m not solving a problem with a short-term solution. It’s a much more holistic approach for clients.”
What sets Ms Smit and her business apart in such a highly competitive profession is a willingness and tenacity to work through problems and identify a solution. In an area as complex and evolving as SMSFs, this tireless work ethics has proven to be a valuable characteristic.
“I’m very much driven by those tricky, complex situations that other advisers put in the too-hard basket,” she says. “I've been able to deliver solutions to clients that they were told were impossible. As an SMSF professional that’s really exciting.”
After 15 years in business, Ms Smit has amassed a significant skill set as well as the technical ability to deliver a wide range of solutions to business owners. Never one to rest on her laurels, she believes in ongoing education and training — a fact she happily shares with her loyal client base.
“Sometimes I will be doing some extra training in a particular area to really master a subject. I tell my clients about what I’m focusing on, what I’m studying and what I’m learning.”
“I'm getting a lot of referrals from my clients for their parents to join us for accounting, financial advice or lending. It’s such a lovely compliment to be working with multiple generations of the same family.”
Ms Smit’s advice to other professionals?
“Communicate with your clients,” she says. “Let them know about all the different ways you can help them before they start looking for someone else.”