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SMSFs reluctant to turn to planners, survey says

More SMSF investors said they would turn to an accountant for unmet advice than a financial planner, despite those needs falling within a financial planner's domain, according to a new study.

A survey conducted jointly by Investment Trends and Vanguard found 54 per cent of SMSFs said they would approach a financial planner to fill advice gaps, down from 70 per cent last year.

It also found 36 per cent of SMSFs said they had used a planner in the past 12 months, compared with 41 per cent in 2014.

Those findings contrast with other answers by SMSF investors, who said the advice they need the most includes pension strategies, building an income stream and wealth preservation – all services offered mostly by financial planners.

"Those topics are not necessarily areas that accountants traditionally provide," said Investment Trends head of research, Recep III Peker.

"This shows that financial planners have to work harder at articulating their value to self-managed super funds. It's not as easy as it was the last couple of years. You actually have to go out there actively and say how you can help."

The top reasons that prevent SMSFs from seeking help from a financial adviser include that they can manage their own financial affairs and because they lack confidence in advisers' expertise, the survey found.


Other reasons include a poor experience in the past, high costs of advisers and SMSFs believing "advisers lack a strong code of conduct/ethics", according to the report.

"What you'll find is that there's always a group of people out there who don't trust financial planners. Over the last year, planners have had some bad press – that's just reinforced the advice sceptics," Mr Peker said.

Vanguard head of distribution Michael Lovett said the results show a "clear opportunity" for planners and advisers to service SMSF investors.

"SMSF investors have clearly articulated unmet advice needs, and we have strong insights into what is driving their decision making," he said.

"It is incumbent on planners and advisers to demonstrate value above and beyond investment selection and work towards developing mutually beneficial partnerships."

The 2015 Self-Managed Super Fund Report is based on a survey of almost 4,000 SMSF trustees and 501 financial advisers conducted between March and April 2015.