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Planners trump accountants for SMSF advice

The number of self-managed superannuation fund trustees using a financial planner as their primary source of advice is on the rise, according to a new report.
The fourth annual Intimate with Self-Managed Superannuation report produced by the SMSF Professionals' Association of Australia, Russell Investments and CoreData off the back of surveys of SMSF trustees and investors, found it is now advisers who are largely driving SMSF establishment rates.
“Financial planners appear to be the most trusted source of advice for setting up an SMSF, as opposed to last year’s top choice of accountants,” the report stated.
Of the survey respondents who were not SMSF trustees, 42 per cent of females and 30.8 per cent of males said they would be more likely to seek out the advice of a financial planner on setting up an SMSF than an accountant (20 per cent and 26.4 per cent respectively).
In addition, the report found that the “use of financial planners as a primary source of advice for trustees has risen, with 51.8 per cent of trustees using an independent financial adviser or aligned financial planner compared to 50 per cent in 2012”.
However, despite “independence” being listed as one of three key attributes SMSF trustees look for in an adviser, the number seeking independents has diminished, with “slightly more” trustees now using an institutionally-aligned adviser (26.7 per cent) than an IFA (25.1 per cent).
This shift in demand for independent advice may, however, simply be a corollary of “recent mergers and acquisitions of IFAs by institutions”, the report suggested.
Non-aligned advisers were found to offer a greater range of SMSF services than the institutionally-aligned sector, including SMSF “establishment, administration and tax advice”.
Reflecting on the findings, SPAA chief executive Andrea Slattery said that regardless of licensing and parent company arrangements, SMSF trustees are looking for advisers who can demonstrate expert knowledge.
“You have to be an expert at what you are doing,” Ms Slattery told journalists yesterday. “If you aren’t expert at what you are doing, this is a market that will expose you.”