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Licensing should not be accountants’ focus

Accountants looking to build a successful SMSF practice under the new regulatory regime should not make the licensing requirements their main focus, according to an industry consultant.

Presenting as a panellist to delegates at the No More Practice conference in Sydney on Friday, SMSF Advice accounting partnerships consultant Kath Bowler suggested accountants needed to take a step back before even considering their approach to the new licensing requirements.

“A lot of accountants have grown their businesses organically in response to client demand, and for accountants to really get the most out of licensing they need to take a step back and think about where they want their business to go and all the opportunities that come from it, and not necessarily just look at licensing as a way to continue to do what they’re doing now,” Bowler said.

“[Doing so] opens up enormous opportunities in the advice space and an opportunity for them to reinvent themselves from a compliance-based business into an advice-based business.”

In light of advice propositions, fellow session panellist SMSF 101 founder Aaron Dunn thought specialisation would become increasingly important.

“I think the self-directed nature [of SMSF members], and I know SPAA (SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia) has done research around the increase in the coach seeker model, and the fact that people are going to get and find that advice themselves first will mean they will look for specialists and look to partner with people that will provide them with piece-by-piece advice at certain times in their life.”

Also on the panel was SMSF Strategies principal Grant Abbott and he pinpointed the importance of concentrating on strategic advice and the ability of being up to speed with the latest information.

“That strategic advice is really for gen X and gen X is the biggest game in town. There is $580 billion sitting in gen X accounts and like Aaron said, they’re savvy, they look at emails, they look at their Facebook and by the time they get to you they know more than you do,” Abbott said.

“So it’s a matter of, as Aaron says, a need to coach them, but you need to be in front of them before they get there because they’ve got as much information as you, but you have to show the new rules will make a hell of a difference to their lives because it’s something they don’t know.”

The fourth panellist, SPAA chief executive Andrea Slattery, stressed accountants needed to recognise what the new licensing regime represented.

“It’s an opportunity to have a level playing field for all of the advice pieces so it gives [them] the opportunity to network and build with each other as well,” Slattery said.

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