Organisational change is never easy but it can bring outstanding benefits. Daria Galstyan CA, Associate Director – Audit at Evolv, looks at how accounting and advisory firms can manage the changes required for SMSF audit independence.
Moving to an independent SMSF auditor is a process that calls for planning – and Galstyan believes the more accounting and advisory firms prepare upfront, the smoother the change process can be.
“It’s all about putting effort into the relationship with your SMSF auditor and understanding that there is support available. In Evolv’s case, you will have a dedicated onboarding manager and client services director who provides considerable guidance for both technological and technical aspects of the move.”
Planning ahead for the transition to an independent SMSF auditor starts with knowing what your practice needs to provide to the auditor. According to Galstyan, many of the documents required will mirror those that would normally be handed over to an in-house auditor.
“An independent SMSF auditor will need copies of permanent documents such as the Trust Deed and the SMSF’s investment strategy. In addition, information regarding investments should preferably be provided before the audit commences to reduce any queries.” Click here to download our checklist for first year SMSF audit documentation requirements.
Moving to a cloud-based system
Accountants should also familiarise themselves with the technology their independent SMSF auditor uses.
As Galstyan notes, “Evolv uses a cloud-based system, which allows us to serve our accounting and advisory firm clients right across Australia. Our secure client portal makes it easy to upload data files or use drag and drop functionality without the risks associated with emailing sensitive client data files.
“However, not all administrators have a cloud-based CRM system, so it’s a simple matter of becoming familiar with the technology involved.”
Here too, Evolv supports this process with a dedicated onboarding team, who provides guidance for every aspect of the transition.
“The end result is that Evolv’s accounting and advisory firm clients experience very little disruption when they move their SMSF audits to us,” says Galstyan.
Knowing what the change management process looks like
While Evolv goes the extra mile to ensure its accounting and advisory firm clients achieve a streamlined transition, Galstyan recognises that from a cultural perspective, ‘letting go’ can be an issue.
“Firms need to prepare their teams – and their SMSF trustees, for change,” she says. “In the past, SMSF audits may have been ‘questionless’, and SMSF trustees didn’t need to respond to any queries. With an incoming independent auditor, firms may be concerned that more questions will be asked of SMSF trustees, and administrators can have fears that this will impact the relationship.”
“Similarly, in-house auditors may be apprehensive about their work going outside of the organisation, especially if they feel their accounts or opinions will be scrutinised by the external auditor.
Galstyan eases these concerns saying, “Evolv aims to build long-term relationships. We are here to help, and become a true business partner of our accounting and advisory firm clients.
“Our view is that in the past, the in-house auditor may have been able to walk over to a colleague to ask for help. That’s exactly what we aim to achieve – the same relaxed, confident relationship, except that our support involves a phone call rather than a walk over.”
An eye on timing
The rewards of managing change are worthwhile for accounting practices, and not just in terms of compliance with APES 110.
“As an independent SMSF auditor, Evolv places considerable emphasis on timing – aiming for a 10-day SMSF audit turnaround,” notes Galstyan. “At Evolv, we always do our utmost to ensure this timeframe has been met. And that’s exactly what most SMSF trustees like to see.”
Discover how easy it can be to move your SMSF audits to Evolv by contacting David Goldsmith at Evolv on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 886 536 or visit evolvsuper.com.au/evolv-black.