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FINDING A SMSF ACCOUNTANT SUNSHINE COAST THE EASY WAY!
A Guide to Choose The Right Sunshine Coast Accountant For Your Self Managed Super Fund
Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) have become quite popular. These superannuation trust structures that provide financial remuneration to its members during retirement are popular for their innate nature of letting the members be in control of the fund. Regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), these funds let the members control the finances and the investment decisions. And who wouldn’t like that!
As a trustee of the SMSF, you decide how you want to manage the day to day operations of the fund. You take a call on where to invest and in what assets. You are the financial and investment lead here.
Sounds exciting? Well it is! But this flexibility comes with great amount of responsibility. As a trustee you are personally liable for all decisions of the SMSF. You are responsible to manage the fund in such a manner that it benefits the other members and safeguards their retirement. This means you need to be well versed, if not an expert, with financial planning and investment strategies. You also need to be aware of the way markets are performing, the different classes of financial products that you can look into, and the maximum amount of investments eligible for tax exemptions in each of these products. You have to be able to manage and optimize the investment portfolio for long term benefits.
In addition to this, the SMSF needs to be audited annually by a registered auditor. There is bookkeeping and record keeping that needs to be done. All of this can be daunting and overwhelming.
One way to deal with this extra workload and pressure is by getting an accountant to help you. A good way to start would be to fill out the form on our website www.whichprofessional.com.au. It’s a one click solution for you. Just tell us what your needs are and what your budget is. We will send your request to the accountants that meet your needs. The accountants will then get in touch with you.
In the meantime, here are 10 rules to follow when choosing an SMSF accountant on Sunshine Coast.
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Rule 1: Check the License of the Accountant
So far, any accountant was able to advise SMSF trustees. However, the rules have changed now. From July 1, 2016 onwards only those accountants that are licensed by Australian Financial Services Licensee (AFSL) are allowed to advise SMSFs.
So what kind of licenses can an accountant hold under AFSL and what does each license allow accountants to do with regards to SMSFs? Here is a quick list for you:
- Limited License: Accountants with limited license can advise clients on setting up of a new SMSF, day to day operations of existing funds, and on certain classes of financial products.
However, they cannot advise the trustee on investment in any particular product.
- Full License: Accountants with full license can do everything that limited license permits and recommend specific products to the trustee.
Accountants that are not AFSL licensed are not authorized to advice SMSF trustees. However, they can provide accounting, taxation, and administration services to SMSFs.
You also need to ensure that the accountant is licensed by CA or CPA and is a licensed tax agent. You can do that by looking them up on the Tax Agents board website.
So when you are choosing an SMSF accountant on Sunshine Coast, make sure that you check their license first.
Rule 2: Verify the Legality of the Advice
The rulebook says that an accountant is not allowed to give you investment advice or strategic investment ideas. But that does not mean that an accountant can’t assist you with other things. What you need to know is what is allowed and what is not allowed as per the law.
Accountants are allowed to help a trustee with:
- Administration services for day to day operations of the SMSF
- Accounting and record keeping of the fund
- Taxation of the fund
- Compliance of the fund with the SMSF laws and regulations
Accountants are not allowed to help a trustee with:
- Any investment recommendations
- Any financial planning ideas
This shows that accountants cannot advise SMSFs which product to invest in and how much to
invest. However, they can advise the SMSFs on the consequences of the investments that they make and the taxation outcomes.
So when an accountant tells you ‘you ought to invest $17,000 in debentures’ it is pretty much a violation of law and an unlicensed advice. However, the accountants can tell you ‘given your age, the concessional contribution cap for the year is $25,000.” What they are doing here is that they are merely passing on the information about what the law permits.
Accountants can also look into your existing funds and tell you how much contribution you have made so far to it.
So when you are choosing an SMSF accountant in Sunshine Coast, ensure that he gives you ‘licensed advice’ only.
Rule 3: Ask the Accountant for Superannuation Lifecycle Nurturing Plan
SMSFs usually require long term involvement of the trustees. So it is always good to have a superannuation lifecycle nurturing plan mapped out for you.
Your SMSF will have three primary stages:
- Transition from accumulation to pension
There are different sets of tasks that are involved at each stage. During accumulation stage, you have to set up the fund, draw out a contributions and re-contribution strategy, create contributions reservation strategy, and plan investments. Then you have to transition the fund from accumulation to pension. Once in the pension stage, you have to plan withdrawal amounts and timelines. And not to forget the winding up of the fund.
Whew, sounds exhausting isn’t it? This is precisely why you need your accountant to step up here and present a plan that covers all the stages of the fund. This plan should also be customized to your needs and should not be a one-size- fits-all kind of a thing.
Rule 4: Dig Into the Accountant’s Client References
The number of returns lodged by SMSF accountants in Sunshine Coast is high. However, the value of these returns is not that stellar. In some cases, the value of the returns is negligible. This can be because the accountants are not competent enough.
So what you can do here is first of all ask the accountant to share some client references. Then reach out to these clients and see if they are happy with the accountant. Try to find out what kind of services they are availing from the accountant and how they have benefitted from those.
You don’t want to end up having an accountant who has all the licenses in place but does not have good client references.
Rule 5: Ensure That the Accountant is Updated
SMSF accountants in Sunshine Coast are primarily going to help you with accounting, taxation, and day to day management of your fund. But the accounting and taxation regimes are dynamic and at times see annual changes to rates and ceiling caps. Your accountant needs to be aware of these changes as and when they get rolled out. He needs to be updated, especially when it comes to taxation so that he can give you the true picture of the consequences of your investments.
SMSF accountants may not be allowed to give direct investment advice. But that does not mean they can get away by not being updated about the financial changes. They can always share information about how certain class of products are doing and what market trends are to be expected in the future.
Rule 6: Evaluate the Ability of the Accountant to Build Relationships
Choosing an accountant for SMSF is like entering into a long term partnership. If that is the case, then you would want your accountant to be proactive rather than reactive. You want him or her to step in and help you navigate the complexities of the fund. A good SMSF accountant will:
- Pay attention to your needs
- Be compassionate and help you deal with challenges
- Give you proactive support
- Focus on long term benefits and not just quick fixes
The accountant should also make you feel comfortable. Although all discussions that you have with the accountant will be private and confidential, you would still need a certain level of comfort to discuss money matters. Since SMSF will also involve your family members, you would want an accountant that can build a quality relationship with you.
Rule 7: Compare the Fee Structure
The SMSF accountants in Sunshine Coast follow different types of fee structures. While some levy an hourly fee, a few others charge a fixed rate. Then there are some that follow structures of base fee, percentage of the fund value, number of transactions and whatnot. What ends up happening here is that when you compare the services and fees of different accountants during the selection process, your comparison gets skewed. You compare fixed rate with base fee which is not correct. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. You need a more apples to apples kind of comparison.
Secondly, you also need to the see the extent of services that you would get. An accountant who is charging a lower rate can quite possibly be giving you a very limited service.
Rule 8: Check if the Accountant is Comfortable with Technology or Not
Technology would not be a real deal breaker here. But we say that it is a good to have skillset in your SMSF accountant in Sunshine Coast. There is no denial that the world is moving towards digitalization. It is not wise to try to swim against the tide. With government records getting digitalized and documents getting stored on cloud servers, it is advisable for accountants to have a certain amount of comfort with technology. For annual taxation and filings they should be able to work with software. Having an archaic accountant who still prefers manual way of doing things is not going to make your life easy.
Rule 9: Look Into the Professional Network
An accountant should be a well-connected professional. He or she should know a lawyer here, an actuary there, a financial planner again somewhere. In a nutshell, the accountant should be a part of a very diverse business community.
You may not see it right now but chances are you are going to need the services of a few other professionals for your SMSF. Your accountant’s network should give you references to these professionals. Let’s say tomorrow you need a financial planner for your fund. Your accountant should be able to point you to the right person. You should be able to leverage the network of your accountant for your benefit.
Rule 10: Consider the Attitude of the Accountant
Your accountant needs to be forthcoming when it becomes apparent that you need to hire a few more professionals. Sometimes the accountants may hesitate to advise you to hire the services of certain other professionals for the SMSF. But SMSFs may get complicated enough at some point of time and you may need to engage other professionals like auditor, a financial planner, an actuary, a valuation specialist, so on and so forth. Your accountant should not hesitate to tell you to get these experts on board when the time is right.
Although the SMSF funds are considered to be ‘DIY’ kind of funds, they are not indeed that easy or simple. Day to day operations of the fund can bring up challenges and questions that an average person would not be prepared for. It is always good to have an accountant to help you.
To start connecting with SMSF accountants on Sunshine Coast visit our website whichprofessional.com.au and complete one simple the form. The ones that meet your requirements will get in touch with you. You get to nominate how many will contact you.
For more information on self managed super funds, you can visit the MoneySmart at https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/superannuation-and- retirement/self-managed- super-fund- smsf. Alternatively, you can visit the Australian Taxation office website at https://www.ato.gov.au/super/self-managed- super-funds/.