Greater numbers of accountants are partnering with financial planners to service the SMSF sector, according to new research from Investment Trends, which also found trustees rank expertise ahead of fees.
The research, which was based on a survey of nearly 900 accountants in public practice, has been released as the “Investment Trends 2019 SMSF Accountant Report” and found accountants have responded to the shift in the market for SMSF expertise by expanding their value proposition to include other areas of financial advice.
Investment Trends noted that as the number of SMSFs has increased towards the 600,000 mark, SMSF trustees were relying less on accountants to set up and manage a fund and specialist online SMSF administration firms were providing strong competition in the space.
“In response, many accountants are evolving their relationship with financial planners to expand their value proposition,” the research firm stated.
“The latest Investment Trends research shows that more accounting practices are employing in-house planners – 48 per cent, up from 41 per cent in 2014 – instead of referring their clients externally – 25 per cent, down from 36 per cent.”
Investment Trends senior analyst King Loong Choi said accountants regarded the addition of an in-house financial planner as a more effective solution than referring SMSF clients to a third-party professional or providing the financial advice themselves.
“Accountants with in-house expertise have had greater success in servicing SMSFs than those who refer clients externally,” Choi said.
“Currently, those with in-house planning expertise typically service more SMSF clients – 71 versus 45 – and derive a larger proportion of their income from SMSFs – 22 per cent versus 19 per cent.”
The issue of SMSF expertise was also flagged as of high importance for trustees, according to the report, which found those looking for a new adviser relationship ranked SMSF expertise (46 per cent) ahead of integrity (42 per cent), low fees (38 per cent) and value for money (35 per cent).
“For accountants, an SMSF specialist accreditation from a professional association can help assure clients of their ability, while at the same time equipping them with a tangible qualification and the requisite skill set and knowledge,” Choi said.