Advisers safe from accountant take-over

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Despite fears and talk of accountants moving in to financial advice territory, feedback from National Tax and Accountants Association (NTAA) members is that jumping into the world of full financial services is far from their minds.

NTAA Advice member advocate Phil Osborne says that most accountants just want the ability to talk to clients that inquire about setting up an SMSF.

“They still want to be able to help out in that regard, but they don’t really have any designs on going forward and saying, ‘here are the investments you should be investing in and I’ll source the life insurance policy’. They’re still very comfortable to refer that to the relative professional in those areas,” said Osborne.

He is encouraging members to build strong, and formal, referral relationships with advisers. Osborne says that in the early to mid 90’s, when he studying financial planning, it was all about recognising where a client had a problem and referring them to the best professional.

“With financial services reform back in the early 2000’s it started that trend of people trying to be everything for all people, and it was more about being commercially sound rather than the actual financial advice that people were getting.”

However, financial services professionals are concerned that if they refer a client to someone that has a different idea, they may lose the client, says Osborne.

He is telling members to set up formal agreements with advisers, which state that the adviser will provide the set up advice and the accountant will do the tax administration and related activities going forward.

“Talk to some people, interview people, treat it as a job interview – that you want to be referring people to them…Document that and have that as a formal agreement so that you know what’s going to happen and everyone understands what the expectations of the relationship are.”

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