Articulating SMSF strategies imperative

Accountants entering the SMSF space must ensure they have built strategies around their clients, but also learn how to communicate the benefits of each strategy in order to get the price right.

“Strategies are the cornerstone of every single SMSF,” SMSF Design chief executive Tracey Besters told the Institute of Public Accountants Victoria Congress in Torquay this month.

“It’s easy to identify strategy pieces for your SMSF client base, but most of us concentrate on the financial accounts.

“There are actually 50-odd strategies that you can consider from an SMSF perspective.”

Besters emphasised strategies were not limited to the fund’s investments.

“It’s not just about investment strategies; it’s about things like estate planning and what would happen if in the event of the member becoming incapacitated, how do we get more contributions in and grow the SMSF?” she said.

“What do we do once the client has reached preservation age, how do we stop taking money out of the super fund?”

Part of offering clients SMSF strategies was appropriately charging for them, however, many accountants and advisers struggled with that, she said.

“Some of us are really good at building strategies, but then you’ve got to know how to price them,” she said.

“So what we need to do is know how to articulate the value.

“The struggle that advisers and accountants were having with getting the price right is that the client didn’t understand the value of what they were doing for them.

“That’s because we, as accountants and advisers, are not very good at articulating what we do for our clients – we’re good at telling them actions, but what we need to do is start translating that into what is the value for the client.”

She said her definition of value was having a value proposition that helped clients move closer to their financial goals faster, easier and with more certainty than they could achieve themselves.

“If your clients can achieve what they want on their own, they don’t really have a need for you,” she explained.

“So we need to start thinking about what we do for our clients in terms of value – what is the value that we’re driving for our clients? What are we delivering to our clients from a value perspective?

“For example, putting together the financial accounts is the action, but what are you actually delivering with that?

“Perhaps you’re delivering insight into their business operations, perhaps what you’re delivering is something so that your clients can build their businesses, they can borrow money, for example.”

In addition, she said value and benefits were experienced in three ways: monetary, time and emotional.

“If you are transferring business real property into a super fund, which is a fairly robust strategy, what is the value that you’re driving for your clients?” she said.

“You’re probably going to be delivering tax savings, perhaps stamp duty savings, lower capital gains tax and perhaps more certainty around your client’s future.

“Every single day, you’re sitting in front of your clients and driving value, but you’re not actually telling them.”

Her presentation was based on the assumption accountants were licensed to provide financial advice.

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