To regain the trust of Australians the SMSF sector must maintain the standards expected and demanded of professionals and to think otherwise is delusional.
Opening the 2017 SMSF Association National Conference in Melbourne, chief executive Andrea Slattery challenged delegates to take control and be leaders in the industry as it strives towards professionalism.
"It is your responsibility to continue building the profession by bringing everyone in the supply chain into your professional community, whether it be at the entry administration level or the elite strategic advice level. You should maximise and leverage opportunities at every level of your business," Slattery said.
Slattery said while the SMSF Association has lobbied strongly and its members have committed to professionalising, the determination of what that profession would look like has largely been left in the hands of government.
"Too often in the past, parts of our industry preferred to pull back towards the lowest common denominator instead of making the tough decisions to move forward into a new professional era," Slattery argued.
"Often fear, costs and efficient systems design were reasons for the focus on products instead of people and the building of a profession."
Slattery also reinforced that the SMSF sector and superannuation funds should be working together to achieve the best outcomes for Australians in retirement, saying that for too long others in the super sector have been threatened by the power of SMSFs. The industry is predicted by Rice Warner to reach $2.1 trillion in funds under management in the next 15 years.
"This isn't right, nor is it necessary. Remember, SMSFs are run by the members for the benefit of the members. We are all working toward the same goal in superannuation and we must continue to work together for the benefit of the consumers," Slattery affirmed.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also welcomed delegates to the conference, appearing via video link to reinforce the importance of superannuation and recognise those in the sector as "a key pillar of Australia's superannuation system."
"My government wants all Australians to be as well-placed as they can be to provide for their own retirement. We want the superannuation system to retain its integrity, remain sustainable and flexible, and generate strong benefits for every superannuant," Turnbull said.
Turnbull described the super tax reform package as necessary in ensuring the sustainability of superannuation tax concessions.
"Tax concessions will now be better tied to individuals who need the most support to save for their retirement, and our changes will ensure that the system accommodates a flexible, modern, diverse workforce. Confidence in the system will help guide savings decisions for many years to come," explained Turnbull.