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Accountants and planners resisting merge

The opportunities and the commercial/client benefits arising from the converging of financial planning and accounting practices are too significant to ignore but many are reluctant to embrace this shift, according to Australian Wealth Solutions (AWS).

Founder and principal and Institute of Public Accountants Victorian vice-president Sam Zervides said the reluctance remained despite the complementary nature of financial planning advice services for accounting firms.

The end of the accountants’ exemption on 1 July 2016 propelled a shift between the two professions, with accountants acknowledging their duty of care to clients and referring them to a financial planner.

“The accountants caught in an inertia trap and don’t merge or align with a planning practice – or engage an in-house financial planning practitioner – will find their revenue stream dwindle into insignificance over the coming years,” Zervides said.

“While simultaneously accounting and planning advice are becoming increasingly specialised, both professions are faced with the same dilemmas of clients demanding more value-added holistic services from a one-stop shop.”

Revenues and profit margins of both accounting and financial planning business models were being squeezed, particularly in smaller practices.

“Planning and accounting advice are complementary services and although much has changed with respect to client demand and expectations, the one constant has been the planner and accountant’s role as the trusted adviser,” Zervides said.

AWS was in the midst of completing the first stage of positioning the business as a complementary financial planning service provider to support accounting practices.

This including moving to larger premises, appointing an additional financial planner to the team, and implementing a new digital marketing program to enable more effective client communication.

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