With Change Comes Opportunity

With Change Comes Opportunity

Incoming Financial Services Minister, Stephen Jones, made a couple of pre-election statements that caught my attention. His view on adviser experience pathways has been commented on by many. His statement about financial planner access to MyGov data has received less coverage but is, at least, as significant.

Only the ATO has the consolidated member data on multiple fund memberships over many years that reveal non-concessional contribution bring forward periods, unused concessional contributions, transfer balance account and total super balance details. Financial planners are charged with the responsibility for advising their clients on pensions and contributions but do not have the ability to access this information. The member’s personal accountant can but is usually unable to give advice. The member can, but usually doesn’t understand the significance of the numbers. The result is a degradation of the quality of advice for Australian consumers, unnecessary breach reporting by the ATO and an increase in time lost, opportunities lost and increased costs for all concerned.

Fund administrators – for both SMSF and APRA funds – act for the fund but not the individual members so are in the same position as financial planners. In our case, we provide planners with a list of potential opportunities and alerts based on each fund’s data but, without the ability to cross reference our information with the ATO, we can’t be sure it is correct. Neither can we check the ATO’s data to ensure that the ATO’s data is correct.

I have been mentioning this to various tax commissioners for years and have been told that the problem lies with Treasury’s reluctance to release the funds necessary to build a secure digital interface. Stephen Jones is the first MP to acknowledge this is a problem so I’m hopeful that he can get the job done but, as I stated in my email to him last Sunday, don’t overlook specialist SMSF administrators. We need the same access as financial planners so that we can play our part in ensuring the integrity of the system.