Trustees under the spotlight

Christine St Anne  |   -- Text size  Decrease  Increase   |  
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Christine St Anne: We're at the SMSF Association's Annual Conference and today I'm joined by Andrea Slattery to give us her broad views on the industry. Andrea, lovely to see you again.

Andrea Slattery: Thank you very much for having me here.

St Anne: Now, Andrea, a lot of our trustees already know your association as SPAA, but you recently rebranded. Can you give us a reason about what is actually in the new name?

Slattery: Well, in effect it's about simplicity and intuitively being able to find an association that can actually service the community of the SMSFs. When we started our organization 12 years ago, it was about building professionalism, integrity and sustainability in the SMSF sector, and when we went out to do some research, the general community that weren’t members or trustees within the communities. So it sounds like an association with the wrong name. They thought of hot tubs, and they said why don’t you just drop the name and you talk about the SMSF Association, which is what you are.

So, we thought about that and intuitively we felt that it was right. We're also at the right time in the stage of a life cycle. We have created an SMSF profession. There is a genuine wellbeing about the SMSF sector and there have been three major reviews in Australia, government reviews sort of confirm the SMSF sector was well-managed, it's well functioning, it's had a clean bill of (hills) and that they have confirmed this a new profession. So, it was time.

St Anne: Now we've got SMSF association.

Slattery: SMSF Association.

St Anne: Now Andrea, what I found interesting in your presentation was how the conference seems taking the focus on the trustee pretty much on the center. So as of the newly rebranded association, how does the trustee come under spotlight? Will you be doing more to focus on the trustee?

Slattery: Yes. We started the association looking at the integrity of the industry, which meant that we have a number of communities that we actually had under our care. So as members, you had the professionals. You had the educators and the trustees and other community, such as the regulators and maybe they're in all sorts of other areas, the administrators that actually impact on the SMSF sector.

This year for the first time though we decided rather than having our conference, which focused on an individual issue within a profession, say like a borrowing rule or about a tax rule, or about something that an accountant would do, we thought it was high time that we actually had something that would allow a person providing services through the trustee to be able to understand where they were in their life cycle and it's really imperative that it didn’t matter what level of knowledge, but they could actually provide advice for an individual in their life cycle and that they could actually provide services along the journey and that would change along the journey, and this conference is to help everybody have a new framework of advice for them.

St Anne: Now, Andrea, the other interesting thing that we got from the conference is that you've started (sparring with your husband and into boxing). Now, of course, the government has made some noises or actually even the media has made some noises about targeting super concessions. So as an association, do you think you might need to put some sparring gloves on in order to look at some of these policies and whether they are viable with the government?

Slattery: Yes. I'd have to say that I will be putting that gloves on with this. Two things; and I need all of you to actually help us with it. The tax concessions I provided for people to put money away now for the future. There has to be an incentive for you to save for a period of one year to 50 years. It has to be measured. At the moment, the behavioral aspects of how people would spend their money, if they weren’t getting a tax concession, is not well measured.
We know that it is better to have a super savings system and our research is showing, you are more likely to save if you have a tax concession and you contribute to super than you are if you are just were left without any compulsion.

The third part is the government makes the laws, the tax laws and the super laws. When they fiddle around with it, they affect the confidence of consumers, they affect the confidence of your clients and they affect the confidence of trustees. You have every right to actually bring your issues to the table and support super in keeping it’s tax concessions as the primarily savings vehicle and having surety and certainty going forward, and so the government committing to this issue that they will not fiddle with it along the journey.

St Anne: Andrea, thank you so much for your time today.

Slattery: Pleasure, it's lovely being here, Christine.

St Anne: And apologies to all our viewers with the noise in the background, but we are at a live conference, and Andrea and I have to grab some time in pretty much the basement of the event. So, Andrea, thanks for your understanding.

Slattery: My pleasure, it's great. Enjoy your day.

St Anne: We will. Thank you all.

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