There is a great deal of debate among adults who are looking at their options once they retire. Whether it is in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s or beyond, the ability to care for yourself and others beyond your working life is a paramount concern that involves a lot of intricate details.
This is where the concept of a self managed super fund (SMSF) enters the equation. Here, the retiree can either act as the sole trustee or be up to one of four members for a fund that is entirely of their own control.
SMSF accountants are therefore utilised as niche specialists who can assist clients maximise the value of this fund and guide them to making decisions that will serve their own interests.
However, in the past few years in Australian law there have been some alterations to legal procedures when it comes to these representatives and the types of advice they are able to offer their clients.
Each one of the amendments has been designed to help the Australian consumer manage their affairs with a stronger degree of transparency as they plan their future.
With that in mind, let us discuss some of the issues that SMSF accountants face in today’s market as these new rules and stipulations have altered how they engage with you – the client.
Dealing With Administration
When it comes to administration, SMSF accountants have a series of facets to consider when consulting with the client. First and foremost their advice has to be catered around the suitability to the party they are representing, whether that arrives in the form of an individual package or for a business (corporate trustee).
The evolving reforms that have taken place before parliament will also have repercussions and it is the capacity to monitor their agreements to ensure they are in accordance with current rules that becomes paramount. The administration element will be all encompassing to include tax returns, audits, paperwork, compliance reports, trustee records and more as it pertains to the fund.
Rules Around Advice
What is classified as exempt and what is classified as a license-only requirement has shifted for SMSF accountants. In a majority of scenarios, an Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) is necessary to conduct advice for a client in a professional capacity. In some cases it is standard to be considered a financial advisor without those qualifications, but the grounds have clearly shifted in this respect in the past couple of years, notably in 2016 and 2017. Should legal compliance, accounting or taxation enter the discussion, then the AFSL license should be evident for anyone of the SMSF accountants you speak with.
SMSF accountants will be concerned with the concept of the pension throughout their discussions with clients. Their essential concern would be the format of the pension, whether it is a transition-to-retirement pension (TRIP) or a super pension. A license will be necessary for those practitioners that suggest beginning a pension and recommending sums to be paid. There are less stipulations in relation to the preparation of paperwork and tracking the limits that can be withdrawn on a minimum and maximum level. SMSF accountants have to be qualified if they articulate a specific amount that should be withdrawn to a pension fund.
As has been discussed, the role of SMSF accountants is far from a simple exercise. There is a great deal of diligence that has to be upheld as the client decides to shape their own future irrespective of the available super funds that are on offer in the market. This places a great deal of emphasis on the qualifications and expertise of SMSF accountants, so ensure that you have the right firm looking after your future.