Are Accountants being told the whole truth?

    I read an interesting article recently (IFA "Accountants not grasping ‘complexity’ of advice: AFA") which highlights the issues faced by anyone (not just Accountants) moving in to the personal advice area. 

    The requirements of s961 of the Corporations Act are clear (along with all other associated sections in Act relating to the FSG, SOA, etc).  When an Accountant decides to include financial planing advice as part of their client service offering, this (often) present a little understood challenge - that is, the Accountant is effectively implementing a whole new business stream in to their practice.   It is not that an Accountant is incapable of understanding the associated issues, but rather the totality of the advice process and the 'nitty gritty' is often overlooked (by all parties) when the Accountant is considering the Licensing or Authorised Representative pathways.

    Once onboard with a "Letter of Authority" (giving the Accountant the ability to provide advice) a major challenge is that, in many cases, they are not being given the tools to implement the business new stream, nor some might argue are they made fully aware of the entire implications before they sign on as Authorised Representatives. It could be argued that some Dealer Groups are simply going for a 'land grab' approach to carrel as many Accountants under their banner/AFSL as possible and then deal with the problem of implementation later.  

    Many Accountants I speak with simply want to continue to recommend clients setup SMSFs when circumstances permit (there's a whole other article that can be written about this aspect), and a significant paradigm shift is required to appreciate the totality of the personal advice pathway they are required to undertake.   This results in a disconnect between business processes and compliance reality.  Unless an accounting business is truly willing to engage and implement the personal advice process in to their business (and all that comes with it), then the best solution for the longevity of their business may be to build a team of trusted 'specialist advisers' through strategic partnerships. 

    Note I did not say 'referrals'.  I believe many people feel the word 'referrals', in a business context, denotes a finite transaction which starts and ends with the act of referring.  Client's needs, emotions and ongoing support do not start and stop like this - rather, they grow as too do strategic partnerships.

    The frenetic discussions around the 30th June deadline (Accountants' exemption) is starting to lessen, and it is important for Accountants to choose, in the sober light of commercial reality, a pathway that best suits their business needs to ensure the longevity of an asset they have spent considerable time, energy and money building (in some case for years) - their client base.

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