Advisers integral to the continued growth of SMSF sector

By Keeli Cambourne
September 15 2023
2 minute read
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If the SMSF sector is to continue to grow and accelerate, advisers need to be leading the way, said industry leaders.

During a panel discussion at the launch of the Class Ignite 2023 SMSF Benchmark Report in Sydney on Wednesday, industry leaders agreed that advisers are integral to driving the further growth of the sector.

“It comes down to us leading the way and having a strong voice as to what it [an SMSF] should look like so confidence rises,” said Jo Hurley, general manager, Class.

“As advisers, we need to think about member experience. If a member is coming from a retail fund or an industry fund, we need to find out what information and what advice they may need around SMSF and provide an experience better than what they have had previously.”

Peter Burgess, CEO of the SMSF Association, said it’s also important advisers determine if clients want to set up an SMSF for the right reasons.

“If we get that right, the sector will continue to grow,” he said.

“The number of SMSF trustees being disqualified is a worry and we have to look at that, pay attention to why this may be happening because if we don’t, the regulator will step in and stop the establishment of SMSFs.

“For this reason, people need to have access to high-quality information and advice.

“We would love to see more advisers specialise in SMSF to make it easier for consumers to find them.”

Joshua Williams, chief operating officer of SuperGuardian, a chartered accounting firm providing reporting, tax and compliance services for SMSF trustees and advisers, said the sector began to grow when advisers started to recommend SMSFs to their clients.

“As an industry, we also have to ask who is setting up SMSFs and who is recommending them to clients,” he said.

“That has changed over the years. It used to be accountants, then advisers came in and there was a rapid growth [in establishments].

“Between 2016-18 there was a slowdown for both accountants and advisers and now accountants have to be advisers to recommend clients establish an SMSF”.

Mr Williams, however, raised several questions regarding an adviser’s confidence to recommend an SMSF.

“How confident are advisers in recommending them? Do they have an in-house SMSF view on the way super should be structured? Do their dealer groups allow them to recommend SMSFs?

“Working with people recommending SMSF is a starting point, but member experience is also important.

“Advisers really need to have more confidence around the benefits of SMSF and be better informed when recommending them.”

How to measure success

Ms Hurley said the growth in the SMSF sector is not only measured by how many new funds are established but also by how many remain after members retire.

“When we think about the growth in the sector, we focus on new funds but one of the interesting things that came out of the Class Benchmark Report was that the fastest growth in the sector was actually in the 75-plus age bracket,” she said.

“That indicates that members are continuing in their SMSF for longer. Even if we have consistent new members joining at the rate they are now, there could be older members that have left, but that is no longer the case.

“This is a result not just of legislative changes but an indication that members are still engaged in their fund close to retirement and longer down the retirement path.”

Meg Heffron, director of Heffron said advisers also then need to think about their older SMSF clients and ways in which to engage with them.

“We need to create a whole new stream around member experience,” she said.

“We usually think about the younger cohort who like to use technology and generally deal with things digitally.

“But this older cohort is being left behind by technology because of everything from having less dexterous fingers to use their phones or computers, to the need for digital ID.

“As an industry, we should be looking at two streams of support – one for the young, tech-enabled cohort and at the other end, one for those who need more support.”

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