76% of accountants give SMSF advice, but numbers are sliding
While the licensing regime and super reforms saw a slight dip in the number of accounting firms looking to expand their SMSF services, accountants have rekindled their interest in the SMSF space this year, according to new research.
Investment Trends research director Recep III Peker said the last two years have been quite challenging for a lot of accountants, especially in terms of focusing on SMSFs.
In an Investment Trends survey conducted with 871 accountants and 2,000 SMSFs, the top challenges listed by accountants in growing their SMSF services are: competition from online SMSF administration firms, restrictions around providing financial advice and regulatory uncertainty.
Mr Peker said out of the estimated 38,000 accountants in public practice, around 29,000 of these accountants provide services to SMSFs.
While 29,000 is still a significant number, this is a slight drop from four years ago when this number was roughly 31,000 said Mr Peker.
As part of the research, Mr Peker said accounting firms were also asked whether they intended to increase or decrease the share of business income that comes from servicing SMSF clients.
In the 2016-17 financial year, the proportion of accountants stating that they intended to grow their SMSF book had come down for a second year in a row.
“2018 is exciting however, because accountants as a whole have now rekindled their interest in the SMSF sector,” said Mr Peker.
This shows that they have now adapted to the reforms and licensing regime, they have greater clarity on what’s happening and have reengineered their businesses so that they can focus on the growing role of SMSFs in their practices.”
While accountants are currently generating around a quarter of their business income from SMSF clients on average, Mr Peker said this was likely to expand further up to 30 per cent.
That was the same number they were giving us about four or five years ago, but it’s been pretty flat over time, he said.
“The encouraging thing is that a lot of accountants do seem to know the direction they’re going to take and are saying that it’s now time grow the role of SMSFs in their businesses again,” he said.