The number of self-managed super fund members has topped more than one million, according to the Australian Taxation Office Self Managed Super Fund Statistical Report, March 20141. The same report shows SMSF assets now total nearly $559 billion, with market growth of 5.66 percent in the previous 12 months.

How to tap into the growing SMSF market

Furthermore, Investment Trends2 reports that the contribution of SMSFs to accountants' overall revenue had jumped from 19 percent to 22 percent of practice revenue in 12 months - and accountants expect this to increase to 29 percent by 2017.

Given this growth, the SMSF market presents an attractive opportunity for accountants. The question is - how to capitalise on it? In this article, we'll take a look at some of the key challenges and how you might aim to overcome them to benefit from this potentially lucrative market.

The challenges

According to the Investment Trends report, accountants identified some significant challenges when servicing the SMSF market. Some of the most commonly cited challenges include:

  • educating clients
  • compliance obligations
  • keeping fees competitive
  • complexity of administering SMSFs
  • attracting new clients
  • demonstrating value to clients
  • time required to administer SMSFs.

Solving the SMSF administration problem

At the core of the challenges identified in the Investment Trends report is the time required to administer SMSFs. Solve this problem and it becomes much easier to keep fees competitive and to find time to attract new customers, add value for existing clients and deliver great client service.

As with most productivity challenges, the solution lies in technology: SMSF administration software can automate many time-consuming tasks. For example, direct-connect data feeds remove all the manual work of coding and posting. Depending on the sophistication of the software, it can take only minutes to process complex corporate actions for all SMSFs across your business. Actuarial certificates can be requested in just a few clicks and property valuations completed in seconds.

A cloud-based SMSF administration solution offers the ability to collaborate efficiently with advisers and auditors. It allows users to provide external service providers with access to just the information they need to perform their specific tasks, if a partial outsourcing arrangement is chosen. Everything can be carried out within a single system, so the client relationship remains protected. And if the cloud application is mobile-friendly, you and your stakeholders can access data anywhere, any time - enabling more flexible working practices and enhanced client service.

What next?

Once you and your staff are freed from the bulk of time-consuming administration processes, you can focus on improving your SMSF business. For example, you'll have more time to:

  1. Define your target market. It's important you know who your existing clients are and who you want to target, so you can provide the most suitable services and communicate with them through the most effective channels.
  2. Be clear on your service offering. Do you want to provide no-frills fund administration or a more holistic service in conjunction with partners? And if not full scale advice, how about SMSF coaching which can help trustees understand the complexities of SMSFs and make better informed investment decisions?
  3. Determine how you are going to work with a financial planner, whether in-house or via a partnership, so the client feels they have all options covered.
  4. Create a marketing plan and be mindful of changing demographics. For example, according to the ATO, 40 percent of new SMSF entrants are under 45 - targeting this segment will likely require a different approach and communication across different channels, for example social media.

This last statistic is important - illustrating how the SMSF market is not just growing, it's changing. As younger people enter the market, they will have different needs and mindsets. For example, they may be more tech savvy and interested in new offerings such as ASX mFunds which allow trustees to invest in unlisted managed funds outside of wraps. The Investment Trends report found that those who were open to using the ASX mFunds service were typically younger, employed and already using managed funds.

Of course, business transformation is occurring everywhere. New technologies and automation are disrupting mainstream accounting. Those who survive in this new era will be the ones who adapt and embrace new business models. To this end, looking to capitalise on the revenue opportunity presented by SMSFs should be a key consideration of your growth plans.

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Kate Sheringham Class Super

Class Super is Australia's market-leading, cloud-based SMSF administration software solution. Thousands of accountants across the nation rely on Class Super to quickly and efficiently administer more than 55,000 SMSFs.