Changes seeing accountants exit SMSF advice
The combination of changes to licensing, rising automation and increasing specialisation is forcing accounting firms that service only a few SMSFs to further invest in their SMSF services or remove themselves from the space, according to one major software company.
Class chief executive Kevin Bungard says it has come to the point where accounting practices that are only running a small number of funds, who aren’t specialists, who don’t know the area and haven’t made an investment will need to make a further investment in these services or decide how else they will deliver what their client needs.
“It’s very similar to what you’ve seen in terms of the audit requirements. So in that case, obviously it was around the need to register and so forth, but what you’ve seen is with anyone that’s auditing less than ten funds really get out of doing that,” Mr Bungard said.
“The idea of just doing a handful of funds is an area which is this ... specialised is not really in the best interests of the client or the industry, so I think you’ll see a similar sort of shift where those people who are doing a handful will either need to decide to have it as a focus for their practice or end those [services altogether].”
Mr Bungard said there may be accounting firms that aren’t doing this now, but with the appropriate upskilling of staff, they could make SMSF services a profitable and growing segment of their business.
“If that’s not of interest though, then they need to work out what they want to do,” he said.
Mr Bungard stressed that he believes SMSFs are “still very much the natural domain of the accountant”.
“It is an area where it really plays to the strength of the accountant in terms of their technical capabilities in this area,” he said.
Mr Bungard said people like the personal level of service they get from their accountant, they trust them and accountants have the necessary level of expertise and skills for this area.
“So I think there’s a strong future there for accountants in this space, and it’s an area where they can grow their practices,” he 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.