SMSF practice mergers on the rise

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of mergers between SMSF accounting firms as practices eye opportunities to grow their client base, according to Smithink’s David Smith.

The Smithink founding director said the growing trend of SMSF practices merging could in part explain why ATO statistics show a decline in the number of service providers or accountancy businesses servicing fewer than 20 funds.

"There is a growing trend of firms merging together, so two firms creating a bigger firm, and that could be part of the reason those ATO statistics are there,” said Mr Smith.

If a larger firm acquires a smaller firm with the fees of the smaller business rolled into the larger business, the smaller firm will then cease to exist, he said.

“That’s been a general trend in the accounting industry for a few years now: accounting firms are buying these smaller firms which creates an economy of scale for the larger firm,” he said.

Mr Smith said it is generally difficult for accounting firms to increase the number of SMSFs they service since frequently the SMSF work they do is ancillary to the overall compliance work they perform for a client.

“They could create more funds for their existing clients, and there is some of that occurring given there’s been a greater interest in super funds generally, but this usually means they need to grow their overall fee base in order to grow their SMSF fee base,” he said.

To a certain extent, this can be a challenge since the accounting industry’s growth rate is relatively low, according to Mr Smith.

“So to grow your firm substantially you have to be actually taking clients from other firms or doing mergers,” he said.

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