The 2019 SMSF Accountant Report, a survey of 984 accountants by Investment Trends, shows that 48 per cent of accounting practices are now choosing to employ in-house planners, up from 41 per cent in 2014, in a bid to expand their value proposition in the face of online SMSF admin firms.
Those with in-house planning expertise typically service more SMSF clients as well, with an average of 71 versus 45, and derive 22 per cent of their income from SMSFs versus 19 per cent when referring clients externally.
“Rather than referring their SMSF clients elsewhere or providing financial advice services themselves, many accountants believe an in-house financial planner can most effectively service their SMSF clients,” said King Loong Choi, senior analyst at Investment Trends.
Accountants working with in-house planners also appeal to SMSF trustees looking for a new adviser relationship, with 46 per cent citing advisers’ expertise in SMSFs as their top selection criteria, ahead of integrity at 42 per cent, low fees at 38 per cent and value for money at 35 per cent.
“For accountants, an SMSF specialist accreditation from a professional association can help assure clients of their ability, while at the same time equipping them with a tangible qualification and the requisite skill set and knowledge,” Mr Choi said.
According to the report, Class Super leads in overall satisfaction for software used to service SMSFs, with 95 per cent of accountants who use the software rating it as “good” or “very good” overall, ahead of BGL Simple Fund 360 in second spot at 89 per cent.
“Accountants acknowledge the improvements made by SMSF software providers in the last 12 months, with industry-wide satisfaction increasing for all 15 key service areas measured. Satisfaction increased the most for integration with other systems used in accountants’ businesses, ease of reporting and ease of organising the audit process,” Mr Choi said.
“While software providers have raised the bar, there is still room to improve. Nearly all SMSF accountants (91 per cent, up from 84 per cent) seek further enhancements from their software provider to better service their SMSF clients, most often around customer support, data feeds and reporting.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.