Accounting world set for shake-up

The accounting sector is set for extensive change as traditional client bases are “eroded” and the accountants' exemption phase-out looms, according to one accountancy group.

In 2016, the sector “will be very different” for practitioners, David Moss, director at Accountable Financial Group , told SMSF Adviser.

“You have the government seeking to… make [it] so simple individuals do not have to go to a tax agent to get a tax return done,” Mr Moss said.

“Accounting firms [are] going to be under pressure, knowing that their client base is being eroded, or their simple tax return client base is going to be eroded.”

However, Mr Moss said there are opportunities for accountants to extend their services to superannuation as an alternative to “shutting up shop”.

“The obvious opportunity always has been and always will be superannuation,” Mr Moss said.

“Given all the money going through [super], given the number of SMSFs that are being set up on a yearly basis... if you’re looking for where is the growth industry, a no brainer is SMSFs in providing compliance work [and] tax returns,” he added.

The Institute of Public Accountants’ chief executive Andrew Conway previously told SMSF Adviser the group is encouraging its members to contemplate options such as taking out a full Australian financial services licence, given the evolution of the accounting sector.

“The IPA encourages its members to consider expanding their services – a public accountant doing purely compliance-based work and income tax returns may find their business drying up,” Mr Conway said.

“Increasingly, clients want to discuss their wealth beyond the basics, and professionals should equip themselves with the tools to provide these services.”

“This is not just about responding to legislative reform; it’s about responding to client demands for more holistic, strategic and value-adding advice from their trusted professionals. It is also about responding to the challenges and opportunities in our constantly changing environment.”

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