Explaining the A.S.A.P. service to your clients
This article is designed to assist in explaining the key concepts of A.S.A.P. to your clients in a manner they will understand. We’ve listed some questions below that your clients might ask you about A.S.A.P. along with sample responses you can provide when asked those questions.
Client: Why do I need to use A.S.A.P.?
Accountant: “On 1 July 2016, ASIC changed the licensing requirements for accountants. Some of the advice we were previously able to provide now needs to be issued under an Australian Financial Services Licence. The costs of having a license are expensive which would increase the cost of our client services. We have therefore taken the decision to refer clients to A.S.A.P. who offer a purpose built advice platform for SMSF clients, which is faster and less expensive than the alternatives. A standard Statements of Advice from A.S.A.P. costs only $250 + GST which is much less other (compliant) alternatives“
Client: Who is A.S.A.P.? What does A.S.A.P. do?
Accountant: “A.S.A.P. stands for Accountants Scaled Advice Platform. They provide an online system for accountants and their SMSF clients to use during a meeting and request financial product advice where required. A.S.A.P. is purpose built to deliver SMSF product advice quickly and efficiently, prepared by their own licensed advisers. As your accountant I can then assist you to implement those transactions.”
Client: What do I need to do?
Accountant: “Australia’s financial advice process is heavily regulated by ASIC, which means that A.S.A.P. need to verify your understanding at multiple stages during the advice process. At the start, you will receive a welcome email from A.S.A.P. which contains their Financial Services Guide (FSG) which you should read. The FSG contains details on how A.S.A.P. operates, how they are paid and how their scaled advice service works.
During your meeting with me, we will log in to A.S.A.P. and use their system to help confirm what financial product advice you need. At the end of this process, you will be emailed a confirmation letter that you will be required to digitally sign to confirm your understanding.
You will be emailed a two page questionnaire which you need to complete and return to us by email. The questionnaire will ask for details about your household including your objectives in relation to superannuation and the policy numbers of any other superannuation funds you are considering rolling over to an SMFS. It provides A.S.A.P. the relevant basis from which they can formulate their recommendations. Again you will again be asked to digitally sign a document acknowledging that the information you provided is accurate. In some cases A.S.A.P. may need to contact you directly to clarify information provided in your questionnaire.
Once complete, copies of A.S.A.P.’s Statement of Advice will be sent to myself and directly to you. If you are happy with the recommendations provided by A.S.A.P, a final digital signature will be required to confirm your authority to proceed. We can then implement this advice. “
Advertising your firm’s use of A.S.A.P.
When advertising your SMSF services, we recommend accountants do not claim to offer financial product advice yourself. Clients must not have a perception that the financial product advice is coming from you.
Wording you might use is: “We have access to a digital advice platform called A.S.A.P. This makes it highly efficient and cost-effective to request SMSF product advice when a licensed adviser is required.”
“We have a professional relationship with A.S.A.P. who can provide licensed SMSF financial product advice when our clients need it.”
A.S.A.P.’s advice parameters (SMSF establishment)
Our advice respects all ASIC’s guidelines including all ASIC suggestions to improve the quality of SMSF advice.
It is vital that clients understand their responsibilities and time commitment when managing an SMSF, and are confident about their ability to make decisions in relation to investments.
We note that ASIC have a ‘soft benchmark’ of $200,000 for the balance needed to make an SMSF worthwhile. However there may be instances where A.S.A.P. still recommend an SMSF if the client has a specific need for an SMSF, and/or has high contribution levels.
Note that even if A.S.A.P.’s advice is not to proceed with an SMSF, clients aren’t forced to take that advice. ‘Insistent clients’ can still proceed despite our advice. The important thing is that the accountant has been compliant, A.S.A.P. have been compliant and the client has been informed of their options and our recommendations.