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Accountants back investment platforms for SMSFs

A growing number of accountants believe investment platforms are appropriate transaction, administration and reporting tools for their SMSF clients, according to the latest industry report.

The “OneVue/Investment Trends 2013 SMSF Accountant Report” revealed while accountants estimated that only 18 per cent of their clients used investment platforms, 59 per cent of accountants said they were an appropriate online facility to manage SMSF client portfolios.

“Accountants told us that 54 per cent of recent SMSF client investments were made through an investment platform, despite that only one in five clients are using an investment platform currently,” OneVue head of partner solutions Brett Marsh said.

“The most common reasons accountants said platforms were appropriate for SMSFs were consolidated reporting, access to wholesale funds and wholesale rates, as well as easier administration and tracking of investments.

“Meanwhile, the common drivers for nominating a platform as the most suitable facility for SMSF clients were good reporting, good administration, easy to manage, familiarity with the platform they use and a comprehensive investment menu.”

However, high costs were universally seen as the major barrier to SMSFs using investment platforms, the report found.

“A number of platforms have been cutting fees in recent times and more are placing greater attention on offering new efficiencies for those advisers and accountants who work alongside each other in catering to the SMSF sector,” Marsh said.

“I think the newer platform entrants are really paving the way for further innovation to support accountant and adviser partnerships, particularly as they are not hamstrung by legacy systems, which can sometimes be very costly to change.

“The smaller independents are boosting competition and helping modernise the industry through things like more extensive investment menus, [giving] greater choice to accountants and advisers, which is particularly important in a post-Future of Financial Advice world where the clients’ best interests are top of mind.”

He said Australia’s $505 billion SMSF industry continued to grow and online investment platforms that made processes more streamlined and transparent for clients could only be beneficial.

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