Despite a substantial fall from the number of SMSFs established from a high of 40,000 in 2012 to 20,000 last year, Investment Trends’ 2020 SMSF Accountant report shows that accountants estimate that a further one in eight of their clients is suitable for an SMSF, with half of this cohort expressing an interest in establishing one.
According to the survey of 715 public practitioners, accountants are still looking to grow their role with SMSF trustees by tapping into this pool of potential SMSFs.
“Accountants already play an influential role in the SMSF space, with accounting firms serving 129 SMSF clients each, on average,” said King Loong Choi, senior analyst at Investment Trends.
“But given the choice, accountants would ideally like to grow their firm’s SMSF client base by 35 per cent from 129 to 174 clients.”
However, accountants believe the current regulatory regime continues to stifle their ability to service SMSF clients, with one in two listing current licensing restrictions on providing financial advice as their top challenge.
Over one in three also listed heightened regulation in setting up SMSFs as a top challenge, while 31 per cent said compliance obligations impacted their ability to expand in the space.
“However, many accountants also face issues on the client-facing side, such as competitive pricing/fee recovery (38 per cent) and attracting new SMSF clients (29 per cent),” Mr Choi said.
SMSF software needs
According to the report, accountants are also leaning more on software providers to help them tap into this pool of potential SMSFs, with 52 per cent of respondents looking for tools to better explain the suitability of SMSFs to their clients.
They are also looking for software providers to help facilitate SMSF set-up and educate clients by informing them of their roles and responsibilities as trustees.
Comparing specialist software used by accountants to service SMSFs, Investment Trends found that BGL Simple Fund led the way in satisfaction ratings, with 35 per cent of users rating it as “very good” overall, ahead of Class Super (29 per cent) and SuperMate (17 per cent).
“Industry-wide, SMSF software providers continue to serve accountants well, and not many satisfaction gaps remain across 16 key satisfaction areas measured,” Mr Choi said.
“But recently, ease of use has grown significantly in importance as a driver of overall satisfaction, so providers must pay close attention to usability — an area that is at risk of becoming a satisfaction gap.
“To further stand out, software providers can differentiate through their ongoing training support, client portal and perceived value for money.”
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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.