SMSF advice largely scaled

The financial advice industry has a confidence issue when it comes to providing scaled self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) advice, according to BT.  

BT head of financial literacy and advocacy, Bryan Ashenden, said during the SMSF Association National Conference that the industry was on the right path to provide SMSF scaled advice and that none of the regulatory guides, research papers, or Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) reports said it could not be done. 

“The question has to be why don’t we? There is no doubt that there is a confidence issue that sits here. It’s not the confidence in ‘I don’t know if I can provide scaled advice or not’ but a little bit of saying ‘I know I can do it but I just want have the confidence that somebody is not going to come back at me after it’ that ‘I’m not going to have client raise a complaint to say well you should have thought about other things or have licensee say you should have thought more or a regulator say you should have thought more’,” he said. 

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“It’s probably a little bit of a legacy that we’ve got from the Royal Commission where the question was raised about did we really go far enough and do we look at enough things. The FAESA [Financial Adviser Ethics and Standards Authority] code also added to a little bit of the lack of confidence in this space.  

“That’s a big issue that we need to address. Hopefully the [ASIC] consultation process is going to help us get there at the end of the day.” 

A poll during Ashenden’s session found 22.8% of advisers provided scaled/limited advice in the context of SMSFs, 38.6% said they occasionally did, 22.8% said they rarely did, and 15.9% said never. 

He noted that if advisers were advising the trustees of a fund, it was in a sense always going to be scaled or always going to be limited as the advice to the trustees were only matters related to the SMSF. 

“You don’t need to be talking about anything else, in fact you can’t because why would you be talking to the trustee of a fund about something that’s got nothing to do with the SMSF. If it’s about a member’s investments that happens to sit in a non-super environment it’s not appropriate to do it,” he said.  

“In that sense I actually think that quite often you’ll find that when it comes to SMSFs and particularly when you address it to the trustee that your advice will be scale because that’s what you can talk about.  

“I think it’s also worth thinking about though that when your advice is to the member because of the confusion that often does arise in a SMSF perspective because of the complexity SMSFs do bring in. Think about if is it appropriate to keep that advice that relates to the SMSF separate from anything else.” 

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