With more and more accounting firms looking to diversify their services, how can your firm compete and move successfully into financial planning?
As the market becomes more competitive, companies are expanding their offering to reach a broader set of clients. With a strong grasp of their clients’ financial situations, accounting firms already have a competitive edge in offering financial planning advice.
Take a look at how to formally integrate financial planning into your service offering.
Training and licences
Once an accounting firm introduces financial planning services into its firm, it is able to advise clients on everything from financial strategies and products to cash-flow management, business succession and retirement planning. But to formally provide financial planning advice, accountants must first undertake and meet the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) RG 146 Licensing: Training of financial product advisers training standards.
To become RG 146 compliant, accountants must complete three to four subjects that can take anywhere from a few months to a year. Accountants also have the option to undergo a further four subjects to gain an advanced diploma.
In addition to the RG 146 training requirement, those wishing to provide financial planning advice must either hold an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence or be an authorised representative of an AFS licence holder.
You have decided to integrate financial planning into your firm and are in the process of undertaking training and obtaining licences. Now it’s time to develop a plan for how the new service offering will be integrated into your firm, and the goals you want to achieve with financial planning.
Your plan may include developing a process for monitoring the performance of the new service offering and creating a marketing plan to promote the offering to both new and existing clients. Accounting firms will also have to look at whether they restructure their practice to create a specialist financial planning division or stick with a one-stop-shop model.
Benefits of branching out
As clients become increasingly time-poor, they are seeking more services from their accounting firms. Introducing financial planning advice is an opportunity to meet those growing client expectations.
While integrating financial planning into your firm may take up company time and resources in the short term, you could see considerable benefits in the long term, including boosts in revenue, improvements in company culture and greater job satisfaction among your employees.
To help your clients ease the burden of financial planning, boost your skills and knowledge with resources like the Australian Financial Planning Handbook 2015-16 and the Thomson Reuters’ guide, Retirement and Aged Care Living. Sharing this vital knowledge with your clients is a key part of any financial planner’s remit.