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Row flares up over SMSF advice models

An argument has erupted over what business model will allow self-managed superannuation specialists to provide the best advice in the area.

Skeggs Goldstein director Adam Goldstein said some advisers would move to or stay in pure accountancy roles, others would focus on investment advice and a third group of “new advisers” would evolve, combining both skill sets.

Speaking at the 2014 SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia National Conference in Brisbane yesterday, Goldstein argued the “new adviser” model, which his business had adopted, provided the best result for clients.

In that model, the firm’s three principal advisers assist clients with both accounting and financial advice. Goldstein likened the role of those advisers to that of the conductor of an orchestra or a project manager with a deep knowledge of a range of SMSF-related issues.

“It’s being able to apply both [accounting and investment] skill sets to the client’s situation,” he said.

He said clients found it frustrating when they received conflicting advice from their accountant and adviser, which could happen when the two professions were not working closely together for the client.

Many advice businesses had both accountants and advisers working together, but few individuals had the “detailed compliance nature of an accountant combined with the future and forward-thinking of a financial planner”, he said.

“From a business perspective, this is what clients expect but are not getting at the moment,” he said.

The principals at Skeggs Goldstein are supported by a team of 14 people who specialise in different aspects of financial planning, accounting and risk advice, and can be called upon for more detailed assistance as needed.

Brett Kenny, partner at Melbourne-based accounting business Rogerson Kenny, maintained it was better for clients to have a specialist accountant and a specialist financial planner who worked together through a referral relationship.

Rogerson Kenny does not have a financial planning arm. Instead the accountants work with financial planners in other businesses.

The benefit for clients, Kenny said, was the business could refer them to a planner who specialised in working with people most like them. For example, some advisers work mainly with older people, some are specialists in social security, others are stockbrokers.

“We can pick a financial planner that’s more suited to the client rather than giving them the Swiss Army knife,” Kenny said.

The model also provides benefits to the business as it does not compete with the financial planning firms it works with, so those businesses are more willing to refer clients.

“We feel that if we had a financial planning arm, they would be less agreeable to referring,” Kenny said.

The accountants at Rogerson Kenny have completed sufficient training to assist SMSF clients after the accountants’ exemption expires. The business has a limited licence through SMSF Advice. But Kenny said it was not worth the compliance costs for his business to become fully licensed as a financial planning firm.

“We’re not financial planners. We don’t want to commit to it,” he said.

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