"Our efficiencies have improved dramatically."06 April 2011
The BankLink Service saves Boyce Chartered Accountants and its clients hundreds of hours each month. Once the initial coding has been set up in the system, recurring transactions are automatically coded and transferred into the Boyce BGL system.
For Boyce Chartered Accountants (one of the country’s largest non-metropolitan practices) SMSF is an ever-increasing service area which now makes up more than 10 percent of its business.
Boyce Chartered Accountants has been in existence for 36 years and has six offices in rural New South Wales including Cooma, Moree, Dubbo, Goulburn, Orange and Wagga Wagga. The innovative practice has developed unique SMSF efficiencies which positively impact on its consultants, wider team and, more importantly, its clients.
There are some 400,000 SMSF accounts in Australia, of which Boyce Chartered Accountants handles over 400, providing professional and cost-effective SMSF compliance, accounting and taxation services.
More than 14 years ago, the Boyce Chartered Accountants office in Cooma, became the central hub for processing all the company’s SMSFs. At this time, fund numbers were small and it made sense to combine the superannuation function into one office.
The experienced SMSF team, headed by Boyce Chartered Accountants Director, Julie Schofield, currently manages the administration and compliance of most of its SMSF clients. This centralised model has worked successfully over the years, and the Cooma office has retained the work and has increased its services as more and more clients have come on board. “We’ve created a lot of efficiencies by centralising our service. We’re all working in the one system; we are all in the same office and we can bounce things off of each other,” says Julie.
The Cooma office is also Boyce Chartered Accountant’s hub for human resources and internal finances, which indicates that the centralisation model works well for the regional practice.
Boyce Chartered Accountants SMSF’s have consistently grown by 10 percent every year. Julie is happy with this rate of growth as it allows resources to adjust over time, while also maintaining a top service to existing clients.
Automation is the key
One of the key factors which helps Boyce Chartered Accountants maintain its successful centralised structure is the help of technology which cuts through the geographic barriers and also reduces valuable time spent on data collection and input.
BankLink is a data and software solution for accountants. “The BankLink Service collects our client’s transactional data electronically, directly from their financial institution, and downloads it straight into our accounting system”, says Julie.
The BankLink Service saves the regional accounting practice and its clients hundreds of hours each month. Once the initial coding has been set up in the system, recurring transactions are automatically coded and transferred into the Boyce BGL system. "Our efficiencies have improved dramatically. We’ve used The BankLink Service since 2000, but we have really utilised it well over the past three years as our SMSF numbers have increased. We are really seeing the results this financial year,” says Julie.
Julie says that with the information collated and automatically coded correctly it is much easier to provide answers to clients, especially on queries that are time-sensitive. “When clients want to know how much pension they can draw out the following year, it’s our responsibility to turn that job around very quickly and provide them with the answer,” says Julie.
The BankLink Service allows accountants to see their clients’ monthly contributions into their SMSF. This also provides a way for accountants to monitor for any deposits that are over and above the contribution caps which if exceeded, can mean financial penalties.
“In the past we’ve had frustrating experiences with clients who haven’t provided us with their bank statements, which are essential to maintaining the SMSFs. BankLink allows us to always be a step ahead, as we electronically receive all of our clients’ transactional data each month,” says Julie.
Always in the loop
Julie says the Cooma-based superannuation team is across all the requirements and changes within the superannuation area. “By having a SMSF unit we’ve created superannuation specialists that provide up-to-date information for clients in what is an evolving area with regulatory changes occurring all the time,” says Julie. “We send staff to seminars and many of our super specialists have industry contacts within Government authorities. Many accounting practices just don’t have the resources or the time to commit to this level of involvement.”
An example of a recent change in SMSF is the halving of the concessional contribution cap which occurred in July 2009. “We are well informed and able to roll out information immediately to our clients, and with BankLink providing up-to-date transactional data we are able to ensure that no one gets caught out,” says Julie.
As well as managing the funds, the division works closely with the licensed Superannuation Strategists within Boyce Financial Services (BFS) to ensure that the strategic advice provided to clients is implemented in a cost-efficient and timely manner.
Julie has been with the company for 12 years. As a specialist in superannuation, she has witnessed major changes within the way SMSFs are managed and she continues to see new and interesting trends. “I’ve noticed that more young people are thinking about their retirement and investigating different superannuation options, especially now there is a lull in the market.”
“SMSFs are becoming more popular with a younger age group. They offer flexibility and control and people are becoming more educated in the best way to manage investments,” says Julie. Rules have changed allowing people with SMSFs to borrow using installment warrants. Many younger people are taking a longer view and want to explore these investment options.
Distance is no hindrance
Boyce Chartered Accountants offer two levels of support for their SMSF clients. Firstly, clients can go into their local office to speak to their accountant. “All of our staff in all of our offices are trained in superannuation, so our whole team is involved in sessions designed to educate the team on new developments and changes that occur,” says Julie.
For many clients there are no real issues affecting their SMSFs, and in these instances the SMSFs are organised and maintained from their home office, using BankLink to upload monthly transactional data. If there is a problem, The BankLink Service helps to quickly identify it, allowing accountants to rectify it before it’s too late and penalties are incurred.
When a client’s SMSF needs input from a super expert the client’s home accountant sets up a meeting with one of the Cooma-based specialists. “When a client needs more specialised superannuation advice our team is called in. Often, we set up a telephone meeting between the client, their home office accountant and our super specialist, so that everyone is across what’s going on,” says Julie. “We can’t make decisions without consulting the home accountant on the job because they are involved with most of the client’s other financial interests.”
The centralised way Boyce Chartered Accountants deal with their SMSF clients, coupled with BankLink’s automated solution which helps to implement and effectively manage the SMSFs, has created SMSF specialists which can provide services and expertise to their clients which are hard to match.
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