Speaking at the Accounting Business Expo yesterday, Investment Trends research director Recep Peker said that over half of SMSFs have unmet advice needs, particularly related to investment.
“The advantage for accountants is that if you ask SMSFs who they are most likely to turn to for their unmet advice needs, the top answer they say is their accountant,” he said.
“SMSFs really trust their accountant. They are more likely to turn to their accountant more than anyone else, so that's a real advantage for accountants.”
While this is positive, Mr Peker said that statistics don’t reflect an increase in SMSF trustees actually utilising their accountant for SMSF advice.
“The issue though is that if you look at the number of SMSFs who use an accountant and how its has changed over the last 10 years, it's increased by only about 10,000 or 20,000 while the number of SMSFs who don't use an accountant has tripled from 90,000 to 270,000,” Mr Peker said.
“If you ask them why they don't use an accountant, it's often because they believe that accountants lack the expertise in giving them the advice they need around investments.”
Mr Peker said this is where accountants should be using robo-advice tools to boost their expertise.
“A robo tool can help facilitate the investment advice that trustees need from a source that they really trust,” he said.
“Broader research into robo space continually confirms that to really implement what a robo tool tells you, you want to have a human being involved somewhere in the process.”
“If that's coming through an accountant, then the SMSF is much more likely to implement the recommendation.”
Also speaking at the Expo, Commonwealth Bank general manager advice strategy and projects, Rick Di Cristoforo, said it’s important that accountants are still involved in the advice process, and don’t rely solely on the robo tool.
“There is a concern that people will just plug in an automated robo solution and think they've got a service,” Mr Di Cristoforo said.
“To help facilitate bionic advice, or advice that's highly automated for sure, you've actually got to have capability, too.”
He continued, “People do expect professionalism and expertise, and some ability to be able to validate what they are seeing.”