Australia’s love of self-managed super is still alive and well, with the latest ATO figures* showing there are currently around 572,000 SMSFs nationwide1. Until recently, accountants have been able to provide SMSF advice to clients without the need for an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) — but under the Future of Financial Advice reforms, all that has changed.
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Accounting firms who want to hold onto their SMSF clients are adding advisory services to their offering — either by getting licensed themselves or joining a licensee.
But it can take more than the right qualifications for accountants to keep their SMSF clients on board.
Why do SMSF clients jump ship?
According to King Loong Choi, Senior Analyst at Investment Trends research house, the main reason SMSF investors leave their accountant is to get advice from someone else.
“In a recent survey , we found that over a quarter of SMSF clients who had left their accountant in the previous 12 months did so because they preferred to use another adviser,2” said Choi. “This indicates that SMSF clients are looking for a broader range of services beyond tax advice.”
For other SMSF clients, perceptions of high costs and poor service were two of their main reasons for leaving their accountant. However, advisers still have many opportunities available, with 213,000 SMSFs reporting unmet advice needs.
So what are clients looking for in an SMSF adviser?
Research shows that honesty and integrity are what SMSF clients prize most when it comes to investment advice.
“Of the SMSF investors we surveyed this year, 43% said honesty and integrity were among the most important considerations when choosing an adviser2,” Choi said. “These qualities are considered as highly as SMSF expertise,” Choi said.
To earn your clients’ trust, it’s important to keep your promises, provide transparent advice and always put your clients’ needs and goals at the centre of your advice.
According to Choi, SMSF advisers who make the effort to create meaningful relationships will also score points with their clients.
“We found that 33% of respondents want an adviser who they can build a strong rapport with,” he said. “For many clients, knowing their adviser is available and accessible to them when needed is also important.”
Although customer engagement isn’t necessarily about being on call 24/7, as you know a responsive service is highly valued. It’s also important to make sure your support staff have the right skills, training and attitude to help you provide the highest quality customer service to your clients.
Finally, for many SMSF clients, clear communication is vital when it comes to their adviser relationship.
“Thirty-four per cent of survey respondents said they want an adviser who can explain financial concepts in a way that make sense to them,2” Choi said. “This is understandable, given the complexity of SMSF rules and the importance of fund compliance.”
To get more out of your client conversations, think about ways to present complex ideas as simply as possible. Using diagrams, examples and case studies can also go a long way towards making your advice and recommendations clearer to your clients.
By creating the best possible client experience for SMSF investors, you’ll be rewarded with their loyalty over the long term. They’ll also be more likely to refer their family and friends to you as well.
* Latest figures as at 30 November 2015.
1 Australian Tax Office, Self-managed super fund statistical report - March 2016.
2 Investment Trends Pty Ltd, March 2016 SMSF Investor Report, based on a survey of 3,531 SMSF trustees.