In light of recent research showing a decline in the proportion of accountants establishing SMSFs, practitioners have warned that accountants should consider an AFSL before it’s “too little, too late”.
Research from Vanguard and Investment Trends, released last week, showed 31 per cent of investors used an accountant between 2012 and 2014 to set up their SMSF, compared with 53 per cent between 2009 and 2011.
However, the use of administrators to set up an SMSF has increased from 16 per cent between 2009 and 2011 to 24 per cent between 2012 and 2014.
Speaking to SMSF Adviser, director of William Buck, Fausto Pastro, said he is concerned that accountants are not adapting to the changing SMSF advice landscape.
“I’m concerned because they’re not worrying enough about this. I’m concerned… very soon they’ll find themselves in a position where they won’t be able to legally provide the advice they’ve been accustomed to providing and for which they’re qualified to provide,” Mr Pastro said.
“I’m not seeing a degree of questioning, I’m not seeing a degree of worrying that I think should exist about now.”
Mr Pastro also noted that compliance work, the traditional domain of accountants, is becoming increasingly automated.
“Compliance work is being mechanised. It’s being standardised. It’s being made simpler, and therefore it’s not an area that accountants can build a career [in], build a business with in future, as much as they have in the past,” he said.
The Institute of Public Accountants’ executive general manager, leadership, Vicki Stylianou also expressed concern about accountants adjusting to changes in the compliance space.
“The ATO is doing a lot more around education and training and tools for taxpayers…. which is stuff that traditionally a lot of accountants are doing," Ms Stylianou told SMSF Adviser.
“The government’s move to wean taxpayers off tax agents, and thereby saving billions of dollars in deductions, I think that’s going to start accelerating too.
“Between the automation, the competition that’s going on, accountants really have to just get stuck into what they’re going to be doing… and really having a good long hard look at what they’re doing and where they’re going.”