Accountants turning to platforms

More SMSF accountants are turning to platforms now that there has been a discernible departure from the traditional, clunky ‘old-world’ platforms to more accountant-friendly and broader investment offerings.

“The common theme we get from people is that platforms are just for advisers and it’s an opaque world of old wrap platforms,” BT Financial Group head of platforms Kelly Power told the recent Class Connect 2017 conference in Sydney.

“We recognised that’s how platforms were viewed not too long ago and there have been pretty major changes that have shifted the way accountants and SMSF trustees start to think about platforms.

“A few of those changes have been the licensing changes, the Future of Financial Advice changes, the investments that some of the more nimble providers have made into technology, open APIs (application programming interface) and the level of automation across the industry.”

Power said it was hard to get investment information in the old platform world.
“Now we’re in a completely different place,” she said.

“So for SMSF trustees who are looking for investment alternatives, platforms are becoming much more popular and that’s because it’s really difficult for them to find places to invest in and understand what an investment strategy should look like and how to implement it.

“Hopefully given all the investment made in this space, things are starting to improve, like better tax reporting and better statement of advice generation.

“So really what platforms can do is play a complementary role to your SMSF software around the investment piece and reduce the friction that we have today between accountants, trustees and advisers in terms of what they can see for their portfolio.”

Right across the industry, there had also been a major uplift in the type of data being provided on platforms, as well as the transparency of the data, she noted.

“Another [development] is that in some specific ways we’ve evolved the platform to include a whole-of-fund view and showing all asset types, not just assets held on the platform,” she said.

“On BT Panorama, we’ve increased the range of investments available and this is quite important for SMSF trustees because they just don’t know where to invest.

“So platforms can open up the range of investments and give trustees more diversified investment portfolios.”

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