Technological change will benefit SMSF trustees, but caution needed

From

John Maroney

The SMSF sector will benefit from technology advances, but it will be evolutionary, not revolutionary, SMSF Association CEO John Maroney told the ‘Thought Leadership Breakfast’ that kick started the Association’s 2022 National Conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre yesterday.

“We have seen the advances that technology have delivered to the SMSF, accounting and financial planning sectors, and it will continue, but in doing so we must remember that any change must benefit the SMSF trustee.

“Other industries have managed to use technological change for the benefit of the end consumer, and I can see no reason why this cannot happen in our sector.

“The building blocks for a strong integration between technological change – I include Artificial Intelligence (AI) in this – the advice community and trustees are in place, and now we must focus of maximising the benefits for both the industry and trustees.

“This is particularly the case where it applies to legislation and regulation, where change is influenced by government policy priorities, and we have to accept that sometimes our sector will not be the first priority.”

The ‘Thought Leadership Breakfast’, sponsored by Act2 Solutions, saw Maroney as part of a five-member panel examine in depth the broad trends in technology, such as remote client servicing, cloud collaboration, and big data analytics, in a discussion that generated keen audience participation.

The Managing Director of BGL Corporate Solutions, Ron Lesh, says the benefits of technological change are self-evident with the efficiencies they have delivered saving practitioners hundreds of hours a year chasing things such as e-signatures and tax statements.

“In the future, I believe open banking will help improve efficiencies in the sector, and it’s encouraging to see the banking system now being more cooperative in allowing this to happen to the benefit of the SMSF sector.”

Head of Research at Investment Trends, Dr Irene Guiamatsia, cautioned that SMSF trustees must be front and centre of any technological change. “The pandemic created a unique opportunity for all to experience first-hand the best-of-breed benefits of technology, and to become more adaptable and supportive of change. SMSF trustees are no different. It is therefore incumbent on the industry and SMSF providers to continue to ensure future technological evolution responds to these heightened expectations.”

The Director of Smithink, David Smith, who moderated the panel, noted that the Quality Advice Review, headed by Michelle Levy, had the opportunity to examine how digital advice could benefit some consumers.

“In addition, could AI be used to determine whether an SMSF has broken any of the major SIS rules. We are seeing auditors starting to use AI to improve efficiencies, so it will be interesting to see how audit processes develop.”

Co-Founder and CEO of OpenInvest, Andrew Varlamos, stressed that technological change provided a genuine opportunity for the industry to improve the investment performance of the 70% of SMSFs where trustees make their own investment decisions.

“There is a plethora of investment information available to trustees from myriad sources, but much of it is of questionable value. And it’s extremely difficult to sift through all this and make sound investment decisions. What technology like OpenInvest enables is for trustees to find a trusted and expert portfolio manager who will manage their portfolio for them, and keep them informed, all through the technology.”

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