Financial Planning

COVID-19 drives practice change

COVID-19 SMSF advisers

Financial planners have significantly changed the methods by which they service their SMSF clients since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent industry research has indicated the COVID-19 pandemic has led financial advisers to change the methods being employed to service their SMSF clients.

The Investment Trends “SMSF Planner and Accountant Report” for 2021 found the coronavirus has resulted in one-third of financial planners accelerating the adoption of technology in their practices in servicing clients who run an SMSF.

Further, the study revealed planners who are SMSF specialists have placed the most emphasis on making greater use of technology to look after clients since the pandemic broke, with 44 per cent of this cohort surveyed saying this is how their business has evolved.

“Many advisers right across the board have shifted and digitised their practice quite quickly because we all had to, so the increased adoption of technology is not a surprise. But it is interesting though to see that those SMSF specialists did it a lot more than their generalist counterparts,” Investment Trends head of research Dr Irene Guiamatsia told selfmanagedsuper.

“This is probably due to a number of things. SMSFs hugely changed their asset allocations during that period of COVID so certainly there would have been a need from those servicing sophisticated clients to be agile and to adopt technology at a faster pace.”

Respondents also said they have been contacting clients more frequently since the outbreak of the coronavirus, with 28 per cent of practitioners acknowledging this shift. SMSF specialist advisers again took the lead regarding this course of action, with 46 per cent of these practitioners saying they had implemented this service element. Conversely, only 22 per cent of generalist advisers admitted they had taken this course of action recently.

“That makes sense because these are really highly valuable clients and you’d want to make sure that they are okay, especially when there is this level of disruption,” Guiamatsia noted.

Reviewing and updating client risk profiles had taken increasing importance for 19 per cent of SMSF specialist advisers since COVID-19 hit, while another 17 per cent of this group said they had deepened their relationship with accountants or accounting firms.

The “SMSF Planner and Accountant Report” for 2021 collated responses from 164 financial planners to an online survey conducted between February and April.

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