The latest industry research has shown legislation and regulations governing the provision of financial advice are becoming more and more of a challenge to accountants in their efforts to service the SMSF market.
The Investment Trends “SMSF Planner and Accountant Report” for 2021 revealed 55 per cent of accountants nominated restrictions on providing financial advice as the biggest challenge in servicing SMSF clients. This represents a jump in this sentiment of 7 percentage points from the previous year when 48 per cent of respondents answered in this manner, and continues an upward trend following 45 per cent of accountants sharing this view in 2019.
The study indicated compliance obligations are also taking on more significance in testing the abilities of accountants in advising SMSF clients, with 44 per cent of survey participants saying this was the case. Again, this represented a significant increase from 2020 when 31 per cent of respondents expressed this view.
The next biggest challenge accountants found in providing services for SMSF clients was the need to help educate them, the report showed. To this end, 42 per cent of practitioners found this to be the case in 2021, up from 36 per cent in 2020.
“Accountants find it difficult to educate their clients … with close to half of them saying this is an important business challenge,” Investment Trends head of research Dr Irene Guiamatsia told selfmanagedsuper.
Angst stemming from regulatory uncertainty is also on the rise, with 35 per cent of those surveyed acknowledging this was a factor adding to the difficulty of providing SMSF advice. This attitude was shared by 26 per cent of accountants in 2020.
“This shows that they are really unsure about [what sort of regulatory change] is coming around the corner,” Guiamatsia said.
She pointed out the attitude of accountants regarding this subject is likely to shift again in 2022 as the current year’s research was performed before all of the superannuation changes were announced in the 2021 federal budget.
The “SMSF Planner and Accountant Report” analysed responses from 360 accountants who took part in an online survey conducted between February and April.
The research also revealed accountants are expecting to generate more revenue from the SMSF sector over the next three years.