Speaking at the ATSA 2017 conference, SuperConcepts chief executive Natasha Fenech said while a large part of the administration associated with SMSFs could be automated there are opportunities beyond this by integrating different processes together.
“My view is that you can automate a large chunk of [SMSF administration] — you'll still need human judgement at the end of the day because there will be those exceptions — but it's not just the automation of the administration, it’s also the co-ordination of admin and audit,” Ms Fenech explained.
“I think we need to move to real-time audit, for example, and have the two processes going together, that's when you start to drive the benefit.”
Also speaking at the conference, Smithink director David Smith said the concept of auditing SMSFs in real time could involve “a bot sitting on the side of administration systems and checking them almost simultaneously so that when the administration is finished, the audit can be ticked off too”.
CloudOffis head of Australia Chris Satchi also agreed this is the direction audits are likely to head with clients already requesting a greater number of tasks to be automated.
“Even little things like at the end of an audit like where the partner has to sign off on it. If they're doing upwards of a 1,000 audits a year, standing there signing one thousand times gets fairly tedious for them,” said Mr Satchi.
“So we're being asked to implement little things like digital signatures, to save them time on small things like that.”
Ms Fenech also said the amount of wet signatures required was another challenge for automation.
“We talk about data feeds and the like but we still have to produce a lot of wet signatures and yet when you speak to SMSF clients, they're surprised that still applies,” she said.
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.