Meg's Musings

15 Jun 2021

Meg Heffron

Managing Director

The end of the financial year always seems to bring on two things without fail – a flurry of last minute tax planning and a trigger for reflection on the previous 12 months.

Having put my tax planning to bed for now, I’m reflecting. It always surprises me how much there is to learn each year in an industry I’ve been working in for nearly half my life but 2020/21 has certainly served up some interesting lessons.

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This time last year, we were still adjusting to the new world of “no-one comes to the office any more”. Like many businesses, we were surprised at how well we handled an urgent shift to online working. But equally, I’ve been surprised at how much careful thought needed to go into developing the transition back to a new way of working that was right for our business. It wasn’t simply a matter of going back to the way we were before. We have new opportunities to decide how best to make sure we keep a strong collaborative culture, create the right learning environment for our new or less experience people but also leverage the great value to our team, clients and the business as a whole of normalizing more working from home.

We’ve launched more new products & services in the last 18 months than probably the previous 5 years put together. Some of them have been driven by circumstance – replacing face-to-face training with online services was obviously a must in a business like ours. But it has given us license to experiment with all manner of new services we might never have tried without the pandemic. 

If you regularly attend our SMSF Clinics, you might not even know that the trigger for that service was a desire to give our staff and yours the opportunity to tune into a Q&A-style forum. We saw it as a welcome break from “all those webinars” and as a replacement for the usual interaction they might have heard in the office when colleagues workshopped a client issue. Similarly, our Super Companion and Super Toolkit are all giving people online tools in a “home office” world. I wonder if we’d have had the courage to do all of this at once in more “normal” times?

We experienced the excitement of seeing many of our longstanding regional clients at our Super Intensive Day for the first time – because it was online rather than in a capital city a long way from their home. As we open for registrations for the 2021 event (see below), we’re obviously conscious of the huge challenge we have to make it every bit as valuable and energizing this year now that we’re all definitely seeing “zoom fatigue”.

We also tried new learning approaches for our own team – some worked brilliantly and some didn’t. Spoiler alert – we’ve turned the ones that did work well into a new service to be launched in a couple of months. For me it will cap off a trifecta of new online services that I feel really speak to what we want to achieve at Heffron (alongside the Super Companion and the Super Toolkit). We’ve always wanted to take our technical and practical knowledge and make it available “when and how you want it” at a price that is affordable for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Our new education service is designed so that emerging or experienced SMSF professionals have regular online learning opportunities in short bursts from a source they absolutely trust, get tested along the way and build up CPD hours without even feeling they have been diverted from their work. This has worked so well with our own team that I’m looking forward to seeing it come to life in other businesses.   

I learned how resilient our people could be and I learned the same applied for our clients and industry as a whole. Despite the challenge of guiding anxious investors through tumultuous market movements in the early days of the pandemic (advisers) and desperate businesses through JobKeeper applications and cash flow challenges (accountants), our clients seemed to take it all in their stride – like the seasoned professionals you are.

We had two Federal Budgets this financial year – one in October 2020 and one in May 2021. Neither were crazy and they certainly didn’t attack SMSFs or the people who have them. Sure, there are plenty of changes I would have liked to see that didn’t happen but equally there were no headline-grabbing measures when it came to super. Trust me, that’s a good result!

And by the time you read this article, I will probably have had my first Covid-19 vaccination. That’s also something I didn’t think we stood any chance of being able to do this time last year.

The Heffron Super Toolkit is available for $220/month per user for Professional level subscription, allowing users to enjoy all of the available functionality including integration with BGL 360.  For more information, click here.