How financial advisers and accountants can retain SMSF clients

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The SMSF sector may be growing, but so is the pool of Australian SMSF financial planners and accountants. According to figures from IBISWorld, both of these industries have experienced significant growth over the last five years, and as of June 2015, financial planning and accounting each comprise 1,587 and 32,920 businesses, respectively.

In crowded industries like this, where the four largest operators take up a significant share of the market share to boot, being able to retain your existing clientele is increasingly important. And as the SMSF sector grows further, holding on to your clients will take up a larger amount of your focus.

What do SMSF clients look for?

Exactly what an SMSF client wants out of their existing partnership with an accountant or financial planner can’t always be determined – every client is different, and will have requirements specific to their needs.

However, generally speaking, the key role planners or accountants should fill for their SMSF clients is that of a trusted adviser. SMSFs can be complex entities even for those who have years of experience in financial matters. No matter how capable they may be, trustees will need someone they can go to to answer their questions and provide them with guidance. Advisers and accountants should position themselves so they are the first person a client calls to answer their questions.

This should be just one in a multi-pronged set of strategies someone working this sector can take. Aim to provide your SMSF clients with innovative strategies and offer them an administration service.

A suite of innovative solutions

A first-rate financial planner or accountant should have the flexibility to offer their SMSF clients something they can’t typically get around town. They should have a whole fleet of pension strategies, innovative investment structures, and approaches to borrowing, reserving and keeping on top of pension limits.

For instance, you might consider offering them an unallocated contributions reserving strategy, where you can have contributions placed into an unallocated or reserve account in a super fund, which are subsequently added to a member’s account in the next financial year. This allows them to double dip in a particular year with their concessional contributions. Or you might suggest re-contribution strategies to ‘wash’ pension benefits for estate planning purposes.

This is where partnering with the right administration provider can be useful. At Aquila Super, for instance, we proactively look after our accounting and financial planning partners. If we notice something about one of their SMSF clients, we will suggest a strategy or measure for them.

Provide an administration service

A good administration provider won’t just provide SMSF accounting solutions. They can also give you access to a real-time, cloud-based administration service, which you can in turn offer your SMSF clients.

When it comes to a traditional end of year service, the client will typically bring in a shoebox full of documents at the end of the financial year, and the accountant will pump out a set of accounts for them. In today’s increasingly digital world, this type of approach can be viewed as old-fashioned at best, and downright obsolete at worst.

The use of a sleeker, more convenient administration service, however, will set you apart from the crowd, and will have other benefits for your clients. Namely, by being able to see how the fund is progressing day by day, they will be able to make decisions more confidently, instead of having to take a reactive approach based on accounts that are nine months old.