New licensing regime to see widespread technological upgrades
The new licensing regime for accountants, which officially begins on 1 July next year, will force accounting firms to improve their in-house technology if they want to survive, according to one SMSF service provider.
Speaking to SMSF Adviser, Supercorp chief executive Kurt Groeneveld said a large part of the accounting industry is still lagging behind in terms of the systems they have in place.
“If you talk to many accountants, their concept of systems or records is their email system, and they have to dig back four years to find an email they sent a client – that clearly isn’t a system of record,” he said.
The change in the licensing laws will force businesses providing SMSF services to move to a “more robust methodology of keeping track of information”, Mr Groeneveld said.
Supercorp's general manager of sales and product, Grant Christensen, said many accountants struggle with the record keeping side of things for the SMSF part of their business.
“They might use Xero or MYOB for their day-to-day clients, but with the SMSF side they’re pretty lax,” he said.
“A lot of the accounting firms have yet to ensure they have sound systems of record such as professional administration software, document management systems, CRM systems and robust back ends.”
Improved record systems result in better engagement with SMSF clients, Mr Groeneveld added.
“The systems of engagement side of things is really the excitement of the next few years because that’s where you start to expose some of the documents to the trustees. For instance, they can see whether you’ve received a letter that they sent you or they can see the prospectus of their next investment, rather than waiting for it to come through the post,” he said.
Improving systems and technology is also vital, with the introduction of the ATO’s new penalty regime for SMSFs, he said.
“While the ATO has indicated they’ll be taking an educational approach, they will eventually start turning around and starting to issue penalties,” he said.
“When the clients of accountants who’ve had a less than robust methodology start getting those penalties, clients will start asking questions of those accountants. I think those accountants will then need to very quickly decide whether they want to be in this industry or not and if they do, they’ll need to tool up in order to engage in the industry effectively," Mr Groeneveld said.
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates. Miranda has also directed SMSF Adviser's print publication for several years.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.