Accountants most likely to recommend SMSFs, but future unclear, research finds


Accountants are the most likely source of a recommendation to set up an SMSF, but it is unclear how this will be the impacted the removal of the accountants’ exemption and new licencing regime.

Joint research released by the SMSF Association and CommBank found that accountants have played a “key role” in decisions to set up an SMSF. For 34% of funds an accountant suggested it, compared to 32% based on research by the trustees, 29% the recommendation of a financial planner and 14% friends and family.

“86% of current SMSF investors started their fund after it was suggested by a friend, family member or professional adviser,” said The SMSF Report report edition 1 – 2017.

“Traditionally, accountants have been the dominant professionals recommending investors set up an SMSF, as well as the primary providers of services to SMSFs. Our research shows that while financial planners play an increasingly important role in both these areas, accountants continue to be heavily involved in advising SMSF trustees. An interesting question for future investigation is the extent of any ongoing impact from the new licencing regime for accountants and the removal of the exemption for accountants recommending SMSFs to their clients.”

“When it comes to recommendations, accountants are the second most powerful influence on adviser selection, after friends and family. For financial planners seeking to expand their SMSF clientele, that underscores the value of strong referral partnerships with like-minded accounting firms.”

Additionally SMSFs are keen for further advice, with 59% of non-advised, and 50% of advised, SMSFs wanting extra advice.

However advisers should keep in mind that SMSF trustees are not all the same. The research broke them down into four groups:

  • The Controller (35% of SMSF members) – combine a desire to be involved with willingness to seek advice.
  • The Self-Directed Investor (30% of SMSF members) – independent and confidant, most likely to have had an SMSF for over a decade.
  • The Coach Seeker (22% of SMSF members) – want to learn, disproportionate share of new funds.
  • The Outsourcer (13% of SMSF members) – want to outsource the running of their funds, 64% not confident in managing super.

The research was based on an online survey of 1,375 Australians, comprising 674 advised SMSF members, 155 unadvised SMSF members and 546 advised public super fund members.

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