With a 1 July 2017 start date for the 2016 Budget changes looming, the time to start preparing and reviewing the implications for your clients is now.

Scott Hay-Bartlem and Clinton Jackson, partners in Cooper Grace Ward’s commercial team, have been on the road presenting to accountants, financial planners, other lawyers and SMSF administrators to assist them in identifying what steps they must take for their clients and the strategies available to deal with the impact of these imminent super changes.

They have already travelled to eight regions across Queensland, each session a sell-out, focusing on engaging with advisers and financial planners by providing real world examples and practical advice that they can take directly to their clients. The next session will be held in Sydney on 10 March.

‘We have seen the benefit these sessions provide first-hand; our guests are interacting with us and each other and are able to openly discuss concerns they have for their clients,’ Mr Jackson said.

‘Getting on the front foot with these super changes is imperative for the industry,’ Mr Hay-Bartlem said.

He explained that ‘these changes will impact how we use superannuation and SMSFs, and we need to brainstorm and be innovative with new solutions to retirement planning.’

Advisers must ensure, among other things, the following:

  • prior to 30 June 2017, every client’s pension balances fit within their transfer balance cap;
  • they have identified all superannuation interests their clients have and are aware of the person’s ‘total superannuation balance’;
  • before making non-concessional superannuation contributions after 30 June 2107, the member’s ‘total superannuation balance’ is less than $1.6 million;
  • they know when clients on transition to retirement income streams satisfy an unrestricted condition of release and the pension documents immediately remove the restrictions so it automatically becomes an ordinary account based pension;
  • they review the wording of all existing pension documents and trust deeds; and
  • the estate planning arrangements of clients with money in super (particularly SMSFs) is reviewed to ensure they still achieve the desired outcome under the new rules.

Mr Hay-Bartlem said ‘although some of the issues to be addressed before 1 July 2017 are obvious, there are a number of other more subtle issues that are just as critical. It is important that advisers start working on all these issues now.’