Since my article last month, the Australian 'mood' has definitely moved on from relief that Covid-19 cases seem to be under control to a new phase which is focussing on when lockdown restrictions will ease. Some are already moving to the third phase: so what does work look like in the future?
I hope many of us are able to take our learnings from recent months to make lasting changes to the way we work. We certainly intend to do so at Heffron. While we have always had a great many staff with flexible working arrangements, I can see now that we treated these as exceptions to be worked around rather than one of many versions of 'normal'.
With 30% of our leadership team based in Brisbane or Adelaide rather than our Head Office online check ins make sense as our new normal even when physical distancing rules are gone and the rest of us could be in the same room.
We are starting to think about using the office space for very specific purposes – collaborating, workshopping, socialising – and our homes for normal every day work. And that will bring its own challenges. Working from home right now is tinged with relief (we have jobs) and excitement (something new) and in some ways brings a natural morale boost for the company (we are in this together and we’re doing OK). How will Heffron need to change as an organisation to keep the culture we love thriving when some of that wears off? I don’t know yet but I’m determined to find out.
Soon we will also enter the fourth phase: who pays back all the money borrowed to finance much needed Government support?
This is where I suspect our SMSF clients, particularly retirees, are at most risk. Many would be the first to acknowledge that the tax system has given them enormous benefits in the last 10-15 years and would not begrudge winding back some of the current concessions. As the asset owners in our community they are possibly a soft target for tax reform.
But while these same people are not losing their jobs or businesses, they are seeing their dividend income fall, their investment portfolios buffeted (although the ability of the ASX to bounce back never ceases to amaze me), income from investment properties dry up and their children struggling financially (perhaps with a hopeful glance towards mum and dad). It would only be natural for them to feel somewhat aggrieved if asked to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden going forward. I guess the generational wars are set to continue.
And finally it wouldn’t be June without thinking about the opportunities for new beginning and endings as the financial year comes to a close. One issue that inevitably pops up at this time of year is winding up SMSFs that have served their purpose and are no longer useful. The timing matters because winding up now means no accounting and other compliance fees next year.
Lyn Formica has written a great three part series on winding up an SMSF which I hope will help anyone looking at this option in 2020.