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Accountants have twofold advantage

Accountants have a competitive edge over other professions in the age of rapid digital technology developments but must better leverage this position with clients, such as incorporating value-add services like SMSFs.

“It’s the oldest saying in the book – you’re the trusted adviser,” Reckon Australia and New Zealand managing director Sam Allert told the recent Institute of Public Accountants 2016 National Congress in Melbourne.

“Accountants have been right up there with doctors and teachers as a number one trusted adviser.

“It’s not because of technology but because of the relationship that you have with your clients.

“The key message is that you’ve got that relationship with your clients – whether it’s 10 clients, 100 clients or a thousand clients – and the world is being disrupted so they need to turn to a trusted adviser and a trusted profession to advise them through that change and hold their hand through it.”

Accountants were also in a unique position with clients due to the data they collected, Allert said.

“Technology is driving change and driving efficiencies, but as a profession you have more data about your clients than any other industry in the world,” he explained.

“If you completed my tax return, you would know my age, my dependants, my spouse, my super fund, my income and my investments – these details are not something you’d [disclose] to your lawyer about unless you have to.

“You have that personal information because you take that information and give advice on their business or on personal affairs – not just to make clients compliant, as that’s an outcome of it, but you get to give clients advice by using that data.

“So if data is the new oil, as a profession we have the oil.”

Allert added that accountants should consider working in wealth management and “owning” the industry.

“Technology is doing more every day but automation won’t eliminate accountants, it just frees you up to do more with clients,” he said.

“It’s also streamlining your client relationships and identifying who you need to speak to, when and why.

“So the more you speak to your clients, the more opportunity you have to provide them with value-add services – self-managed super is one of those areas.”

However Allert also reminded the audience of the commencement of the new licensing regime.

“From 1 July, accountants who want to provide any financial advice, including advice relating to SMSFs, will need to hold an Australian financial services licence or operate [as an authorised representative],” he said.

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