Accountants are adjusting to regulatory changes and compliance concerns which are changing the way they do business. They have had to rethink how they best service their SMSF client’s needs, with respect to the licensing changes, whether this is directly or through a referral relationship.
This is affecting both accountants and clients in the SMSF space. Accountants with a limited Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) are trying to assist their clients as much as possible, but they can only do so much (i.e. provide a ‘statement of advice’ (SOA) and set up an SMSF) before they have to refer their client to another specialist to provide further advice, such as structuring an investment portfolio or addressing insurance needs.
View from your client’s side
Reviewing your processes from the client’s perspective may give you a better understanding of their needs and help you to deliver the appropriate service. You may see benefits from potential increased client satisfaction and improved levels of retention.
Imagine you’re a client. You’ve gone to visit your accountant expecting that they can look after everything for you. They write up an SOA, set up the SMSF and charge you for their service. You return to the accountant for investment advice and they inform you that they can’t help based on the limitations of their AFSL authorisations. You now have to go and see a financial adviser, who may not be able to use the SOA from the accountant to prepare an investment strategy. The process starts again and you’ll be charged a separate service fee by the adviser.
The time, cost and inconvenience of starting the journey with an accountant and having to begin again with a financial adviser is simply not a good experience for your customers. Therefore, it’s important to set the client’s expectations up front and to be transparent with what you can deliver. Providing a solution upfront may mitigate the risk of losing your clients to a competitor who has a full service offering.
The good news
There are options that can help you to continue delivering exceptional service to your clients. Referral arrangements in the accounting industry are common-place with 67% of accountants indicating that they referred their most recent client who approached them for advice about setting up an SMSF to an authorised representative1.
If you don’t have the ability to incorporate financial planning into your business, you could consider partnering with someone who can. A referral model allows you to retain control of your relationship with the client. It’s like the relationship between a GP and a specialist. The doctor may refer their patient to a specialist for a particular service, but the results and ongoing relationship primarily remain with the GP.
Being able to offer additional advisory services may mean that you can better satisfy your clients’ needs and potentially increase the value of your business. To do this, you could consider options such as obtaining an AFSL, partnering with a financial adviser, leveraging an execution only service where appropriate, or referring your clients to a robo/digital advice service.
As their trusted adviser, clients are looking to you for help with their wealth needs. If you are ready to diversify your service offering, maintain an exceptional level of customer service and stay on track with the licensing regime, a referral arrangement or one of the other solutions mentioned may address this need for your business.
BT Panorama has a number of solutions to help accountants. To find out more visit btpanorama.com.au/accountants
12017 Investment Trends, March 2017 SMSF Accountant Report, based on a survey of 1,248 accountants in public practice.
Information current as at 9 October 2017. This information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to your personal objectives, financial situation and needs having regard to these factors before acting on it. This information provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.
This Information may contain material provided directly by third parties and is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. It should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material.
© BT Financial Group – A Division of Westpac Banking Corporation.