Currently there is a lot of industry discussion on the choices accountants are faced with as they stare down the barrel of the 2016 deadline of the removal of the accountant’s exemption.
The best way to know of course is to ask accountants. Over 75% of the Securitor and Licensee Select network are accountants or aligned to accountants.
They tell us there is no single answer, and we tend to agree. This is because we believe the removal of the accountant’s exemption is not about selling product.
It’s actually about providing accountants with the opportunity to provide greater access to advice for more Australians. It allows accountants to provide a broader range of financial advice, to diversify their service offering and deepen their relationships with their clients.
Of course the exemption is also about assisting clients to decide where they should invest.
Clients aren’t coming to accountants just for information. They are flooded with the abundance of information available online and the ability to self direct their investments.
What they are seeking is for the accountant to provide insights from this information and to help them make the right choices which are appropriate for their financial situation and are in their best interest.
And of course the most successful professional advisers are talking to their clients regularly to understand their needs. They are challenging the clients with ideas, with possibilities and looking to create value at every interaction.
Just as every client is unique, so too there is no one best way, or a one size fits all solution to how each business should approach the removal of the accountant’s exemption.
It is one thing for an accountant to establish an AFSL however the areas that businesses tend to underestimate are the ongoing time, effort, additional responsibilities and risks which come with running their own licence.
These range from complying with licensing obligations and responding to regulatory change, to maintaining the competence of their representative’s and ensuring they comply with financial services Law.
The brand and reputation of the licensee is crucial to the sustainability of the business and is important for accountants to understand the opportunity cost associated with where they spending their time. The focus should be on spending time with their clients and adding value at every interaction.
The important thing is for accountants to understand that they have options around licensing – even over whether they want to become licenced at all.
If getting licenced is not for them, they can always recruit a financial adviser and bring them in house. This way they ensure they maintain control of the overall advice experience. They could also establish a strong referral network and refer out all SMSF advice.
The key is partnering with someone you can trust and that integrates well into your business model.
This means both parties investing time in the business to understand the needs of the clients and opportunities for professional advice. Ultimately bringing financial advice into your advice offering will result in an additional revenue stream that will benefit the overall business and ensure you have met all your clients’ advice needs.
Each option will depend on the long term strategy of the accounting practice and now is the time to decide the type of business that the partners want to run in the future and how the business will grow and prosper facing into this environment.
This article was written by Stevie-Ann Dovico, Manager Strategic Growth, Securitor. For more information please visit the securitor website here
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