The current business model for accountants is not going to work unless they adapt to the coming technological changes, says Mayflower management consultancy principal Sarah Penn and Xpress Super and Super Guardian CEO Olivia Long.

“Technology is accelerating the rate of change of SMSF administration and accountants need to make some tough choices if they are going to keep up with client expectations,” Ms Penn says.

Ms Penn was speaking at the 2015 SMSF Association annual conference about the need for accountants to transition their businesses in order to service the growing demands of SMSFs.

“It is no longer enough to have a friendly voice on the phone and the right coffee when your clients come in for their annual review,” she says. “Clients want online access to their SMSF, along with greater transparency, quicker response to queries, and facilities to send information to their financial planner whenever they want at the click of a button.

“The key for accountants to making a successful transition to accommodating the growing client needs is to make hard choices about what suits their business best, and then implement those choices.

“While the technology is causing seismic shifts in financial administration, accountants are well placed – they are analytical thinkers who understand what makes a business profitable.

“The main thing is to get started, writing down all your business services and then reviewing  the value of each one, not just for your clients but also for the business model.

“The time has come for accountants to move past a dollar per hour basis and price according to the value you add to your clients. It’s classic economic theory – don’t get caught in the middle,” Ms Penn warns.

“At one end, low price high volume SMSF administrators will price accountants out of the market, while at the other, specialist groups focusing on family offices and HNW individuals will need to charge more.

“The average accountant is going to need to make some tough choices whether they want to be either ‘low fees, high volume’ or ‘high fees, low volume’.

“Accountants also need to be careful who they get into bed with,” says Ms Penn. “They must carefully consider the long-term plan and IT capabilities of each outsource provider they use.”

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