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“It has revolutionised the business and the way we go about things.”

06 April 2011

Administering an SMSF can be inefficient and labour intensive if the right tools aren’t being used. Hanrick Curran Superannuation tells how The BankLink Service has not only largely automated a once complex process, but also enabled the practice to more effectively manage compliance activity.

Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) are the fastest growing sector in the Australian financial services industry with over 400,000 SMSFs now established. But massive growth can have its drawbacks.

Many of those contributing to SMSFs don’t understand the rules or their implications. This means accountants are often tasked with picking up their clients’ compliance errors, well after they have occurred. However accountants who are using The BankLink Service have found this unique tool not only enables them to process SMSFs more efficiently, but also more cost effectively.

Hanrick Curran Superannuation and SMSFs

While the benefits of The BankLink Service are well known within the accounting profession, the fact it could also help accountants manage their clients’ SMSFs came as a welcome advantage to Chris Campbell, a director at Hanrick Curran Superannuation.

This chartered accounting firm incorporates a separate, specialist SMSF administration business. It’s a second tier independent firm with 10 partners and around 80 staff. The superannuation practice’s main business objective is to capitalise on the growth of SMSFs and accommodate it. “The SMSF industry is almost recession-proof, and it just continues to grow,” says Chris.

Effectively managing compliance activity

SMSFs can prove challenging for accounting practices to manage, and the changing legislative landscape adds to the complexities through requirements like monitoring client contributions. The BankLink Service helps Hanrick Curran Superannuation determine whether its clients are observing the investment restrictions and ensure they don’t exceed their individual superannuation contribution caps.

“Added risk and complexity of contribution caps was something few people in the accounting profession had foreseen,” says Chris.

“Hanrick Curran already had BankLink before Better Super [the Government’s superannuation overhaul, which took effect on 1 July 2007] came in, and we realised there was huge potential to provide value adding services to clients.”

“Every month we monitor accumulated contributions and warn clients in advance that they may be about to exceed their contribution caps. Accountants often don’t find out about that until it’s much too late to do anything about it.”

Combating staff shortages with The BankLink Service

One of Hanrick Curran’s internal challenges is a shortage of trained superannuation accounting staff in the SMSF industry. Chris has taken a pragmatic approach to solving this problem with the help of The BankLink Service.

“We wanted our highly qualified staff only being utilised for their intellectual accounting skills, not tedious data entry or chasing information. We also wanted to remove over-reliance on key accounting personnel by replacing them with software and junior administrators wherever we can.”

Typical SMSF clients are busy professionals and business owners and they have precious little time to gather superannuation fund paperwork which has been accumulated over the course of a year. “Being able to offer a SMSF service that lets the client focus on what they do best while we obtain the fund information directly has been a highly marketable, and well accepted service,” says Chris.

With less reliance on trained accounting staff, and better deployment of software, much of the administrative labour at the basic level has been saved. “That translates into time and turning around work. It allows us more time to focus on accuracy, quality and value adding for our SMSF clients.”

Automating and adding value

The BankLink Service automates transactional processing, making the data more powerful. Now, with account-holders’ authority, statement data issued by the banks is sent to BankLink who forward an electronic copy of this directly to Hanrick Curran.

The accountant downloads the financial data into BankLink software, where income contributions, investment buys and sells and expenses can be automatically coded.

Excess contributions, minimum and maximum pension drawing requirements and potential investment rule breaches or overdrawn bank accounts are detected immediately.

BankLink has since been embraced wholeheartedly by Hanrick Curran Superannuation’s clients with no resistance and is now instrumental in helping prevent excess client contributions. “Timely policing of contribution caps on the client’s behalf is vital because they’re not equipped to do it.”

Use of BankLink permeates the practice. Chris estimates that around 60 percent of staff members make hands-on use of it for management, viewing or administration.

The BankLink Service has helped Hanrick Curran achieve large productivity gains in a market where specialist accountant salary costs continue to escalate. “It has revolutionised the business and the way we go about things” says Chris.

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