Every accountant and practice are unique and you’re caught up in a regime that requires you to retrain and rethink how you operate the way you do business. And this doesn’t suit everyone. But it’s now the reality and in this new word of licensing, you risk losing clients because you can’t legally give the SMSF advice you could in the past.
If you still have one toe in the water, you need to understand two things in the new world:
1. Accountants need to be comfortable but not blinded by misconceptions
To say there’s a lot of noise at the moment is an understatement. Thus blurring the facts. Many accountants I speak to still have preconceived ideas about strategic advice that may not be entirely accurate. I often hear – ‘I don’t want to be a financial planner or give product recommendations’. You don’t need to. You can maintain impartiality with the focus on strategy and watch the scope of advice rapidly expand. The more you explore advice model options, the more comfortable you’ll be entering this space without any misconceptions or by choosing an option that doesn’t suit the advice you want to provide to your clients.
Stepping into the new world does take you out of your comfort zone. But not for long. If you’re already providing SMSF advice, you’re half way there. Many accountants have been providing strategic advice for years but not charging for it. Now, advice can be easily documented, more considered and charged for accordingly.
2. You simply can’t do it without software
Regardless of the software you use, it can be a game changer. Financial planners have had access to this technology for years, whereas many accountants are still operating manually, with the industry as a whole, less exposed to these efficiencies. Software allows you to provide detailed strategy advice to clients with minimal effort. Take TTRs for example. Previously these and other such strategies were calculated manually and difficult to communicate to clients or demonstrate the value of. With specialised software, calculations are done instantaneously and presented in a client-friendly advice document, completely compliant.
An accounting firm recently explained to me, early perceptions of the limited licence were that it was a ‘sunk cost’. However, they said that the more they progressed into understanding the licensed advice process, the more they were able to appreciate the wider conversations they could have with clients, increasing their scope to add value and provide strategic input directly to the client achieving their personal and business goals. They also said that clients responded positively to the software, as they could visualise various scenarios demonstrating plans for their future needs.
So, if you think the new world of licensing is a sunk cost, think again and to explore the options. It’s the new reality for many accountants providing SMSF advice.
Mark Euvrard has been a member of the Institute of Australian Chartered Accountants since 1980 and is an Accredited Financial Planning Specialist with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. He is also a B.COM.Hons (Rhodes) graduate.
Prior to establishing Libertas, Mark oversaw an independent AFSL with over 50 independent advisors for a decade prior to selling this business to concentrate on his passion for developing and managing special purposes Licensees to meet the needs of the expanding financial advice landscape.
With an accounting background, he understands the world of an established SMSF accountant seeking an independent and non-aligned authorisation to provide advice under.
Mark Euvrard is a Director of non-aligned licensee, Libertas.