Setting the record straight
Since the news broke that SPAA has rebranded, speculation has mounted about the association’s future priorities and structure. Speaking to Katarina Taurian, chief executive Andrea Slattery sets the record straight for members
Some members have expressed concern about what the rebrand means for their membership. What does this move mean for the association? Are you going to broaden your scope beyond professionals?
There is no change on our goals, there is no change on what we’ve done, and there is no change on the strategic plan that we’ve always had, which is to build integrity into the SMSF sector.
There is no change except the name change. There is no change to what we have always been doing. Our whole message is that there is no change with what [we] are doing, except [a] change [to] the brand.
This is about getting the opportunity for more people in the industry to be able to find information and advice that they need.
This is about research that we did on trying to assist our members to be found and to assist our members who are the leaders in the community to service the community of SMSFs.
So, this is all about the strategic plan that we’ve always had, we are doing nothing different. Accreditations are the same, our programs are the same, we are doing nothing different to what we have always done. And we have always looked after the whole industry.
There is no mischief in this, it’s just an evolution and a way in which people can actually intuitively find specialists, intuitively find an association to represent them.
To be clear, are you making plans to focus on the trustee space?
We do not have trustee members.
We’ve been servicing trustees directly ever since we started, there is no change to what we’ve always done. We have always represented the industry we have always represented every community in the sector at an advocacy level [and] at every level, but our memberships are the professionals.
We have developed education and standards for professionalism, we have built professionalism, there is no change in our strategy and the way in which we’re moving forward as the leader in the industry and as a leader of integrity and professionalism for the SMSF sector.
There is no change except in the brand.
So what is it that you are looking to achieve with this name change?
This whole thing is about having intuitive and simple dialogue with people who don’t know the branded name of SPAA, but are looking for people to assist them, whether it’s through advocacy, or specialisation or education. It’s all about making it simpler and more intuitive.
We look after the SMSF sector, we are the leader, the leading voice, the leader in professionalism of the whole sector, and it’s about having a name that is actually an evolutionary name that represents what we’re doing.
Will this change work to assist your dealing with government?
We have a wonderful relationship with government and the regulators and with industry, and when we have talked to them about this they said ‘That just makes sense.’
When our research went to the community, the community said ‘Well we understand the name, why don’t you just call yourself The SMSF Association? Because we would go to a person who is a member of yours for advice. But with SPAA, we only think of hot tubs’.
So it’s about having an intuitive name that has meaning.
This is just a step on the journey to help people to know what specialist they need to go to, and let people know that we are continuing to do what we’re doing.
We deal in the super industry and in the advice industry; we actually deal across many spectrums. It’s hard spending half an hour describing what your name is, when you could just say self-managed super or SMSF.
Is it a way to help potential clients find an appropriate adviser?
It’s a way of helping potential clients or current trustees to seek professional services. That’s been a lot of the problem – people haven’t know where to go to find people. Our research, and it was a lot of research, [suggests] a lot of our members are very positive about this move in that it actually helps them to say ‘I’m a member of the SMSF Association and I’m a specialist in that association, I’m the one that you come to’.
There have been suggestions on social media that the association’s membership base weren’t consulted about the rebrand. Did you consult with members?
We got a lot of feedback from members within the organisation, but it wasn’t the whole organisation obviously. We did do research through some of the membership and that helped up to make a decision about realising that it was time for the change now.
To conclude, are there any changes to your membership structure, or any structure for that matter, as a result of this change?
We have no change. The current membership structure is that the professional can have a career pathway.
We’ve always done something for everybody. The ATO requires a trustee education for those people that weren’t doing the right thing that got caught, so we’ve developed education standards and educational curriculums which were approved under that.
There is nothing changing from what we have always done and what we have always said to do, and our memberships are professionals now.
We’ve had four names, and it’s an evolution, we haven’t changed in our objectives.