You cannot properly give financial advice to a client without considering the tax consequences of that advice. Similarly you should not make a recommendation to a client in order to save tax without considering the impact of the action on their overall financial well-being
True financial advice needs to cross over a number of disciplines. Tax, personal insurances and investments are only some of them, indeed proper advice also needs to take account of things which are not financial in nature. (For some of the stuff I find myself advising on see this article, and this video.)
Then there is the vexed question of superannuation. For many accountants the only kind of superannuation is self-managed superannuation as that is the only kind of super on which they are qualified to provide advice. For most financial advisers superannuation is part of a set of tools that are used to assist in the financial well-being for their clients and self-managed superannuation is only a specific category of one of those tools, and one which they may be wary of.
As a financial adviser who is qualified to provide advice in respect of taxation (or an accountant who is qualified to provide advice in respect of other financial matters) I have a foot in both camps (and more). In fact I prefer to think of myself as just an adviser, unrestricted by labels and titles. It is my belief that my clients, existing and prospective, would like to think of their ideal adviser this way also – they just want someone to look after them.
At a former business of mine we developed a tag line that said “Only the combined expertise of a professional accounting and financial planning team can deliver client leadership and financial security”. I still hold firmly to this principle.
Collaboration between a client’s advisers is essential in order that their entire circumstances can be considered, so why would any of the advisers wish to operate in isolation? For example an accountant who only provides tax advice, or an adviser who only provides advice in connection with investments is only going to be talking to his client about half of the story.
To me this would seem to be self-evident, yet there continues to be friction between various parts of what is such a closely aligned endeavour. Accountants at times seem to be so protective of the relationship they have with their clients that they actively discourage them from seeking advice from anyone else. Advisers limit the work that they do for their clients to what they know, and decline to consult with the other advisers in their client’s lives before making recommendations.
So what should the clients do? In my view they need to seek advisers from professionals who are happy to actively collaborate with other experts, or find someone who can provide advice across all parts of their financial world. It is only in these environments that the client can be sure that they are obtaining the best advice.
The best advice is not defined by titles, qualifications or labels. It is founded on a deep understanding of a client’s total circumstances, and does not address only a single issue without considering the impact on other parts of the puzzle.