Meg's Musings – Same expertise delivered differently – the inside story...

2 Dec 2020

Meg Heffron

Managing Director

How our passion to make our knowledge more accessible drove the creation of the Toolkit and Companion.

Join our newsletter

2020 stopped most businesses in their tracks. We were no exception. C19 challenged us to consider how a business like ours, that is known for technical expertise delivered through great human interaction can continue to support advisers, accountants and trustees when the world has dramatically changed overnight.

With our clients no longer working in the same office or working the same hours, like so many other businesses, we evolved very rapidly!

Now as I reflect on the year that was, I wanted to explain our journey a little more as I expect we’re not alone in the challenge we faced: when a key strength is our people, how can we create virtual services and yet still feel like we’re true to the things that make us who we are?

For us, it started with the fact that Heffron has always loved to empower advisers, accountants and trustees to do great things. It’s why we’ve been at the forefront of SMSF education for nearly 20 years, it’s why most of our “people-driven” services are centred around technical support and it’s why we write so many articles and clutter up your inbox.

We started to realise that empowering advisers and accountants through technology platforms is still bringing our clients the same Heffron expertise and education, developed by real Heffron people. And we also started to see that technology gives us a unique opportunity to not only spread our expertise more widely, but also do it at a price that is much more affordable.

Translating human expertise to virtual expertise has been our greatest challenge yet but it was our passion to make our knowledge more accessible that drove the creation of the Toolkit and Companion.

The Toolkit started small with a tool to help produce compliant investment strategy documentation. On the face of it, that’s simple and a well-trodden path. But our exposure to thousands of investment strategies prepared by hundreds of different people for very different funds meant we could propose sample wording to cover virtually any situation.

Our experience as administrators also meant we were keenly aware of the challenges facing accountants who wanted to help clients with compliance without giving (in reality or perception) investment advice. Our response was to develop a feature that is completely unique – initiating the investment strategy but digitally sharing access to the Toolkit with a client so they answer the questions and choose the relevant paragraphs themselves. Even advisers wishing to prepare a strategy document that covers both the portfolio they manage, and investments managed by the trustees themselves can use this feature to collaborate with the client.

And perhaps just as importantly, the Toolkit is very deliberately priced to be accessible to any practice of any size. The most basic subscription is only $20 + GST per month with no limit on the number of documents you can produce. Of course, as new features are added there will be some that cost more or are added to a more expensive subscription. But it’s critical to us that some great value is always available at a basic, highly affordable subscription level – this is our mission.

The Companion fills a different niche. It’s like a Wikipedia for SMSFs. But we don’t just explain the law or explain key rulings and ATO determinations as there are lots of textbooks that can that. The uniqueness of the Companion lies in the hundreds of practical tips and examples as well as strategies drawn from our real-life experience as administrators, educators and lovers of SMSFs.

For us this is a passion project. 

When you’ve spent most of your working life building up knowledge about just one area of practice like I have, I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to have somewhere to write it down in a way that makes it useful to someone else. Technology makes that possible – searching, tagging, marking favourite pages are all essential elements of taking huge volumes of content but making it feel like the answer to your question is just a few clicks away. Our vision is that when you have an SMSF question (even if you’re pretty sure you know the answer), the Companion is where you go first as it contains everything we know about SMSFs. It saves you time, gives you confidence to advise your clients and flags pitfalls or opportunities you hadn’t thought of.

Our people really are wrapped up in our new technology. As you are reading a tip, strategy, example or even just an explanation in the Heffron Super Companion, think back to your last conversation or training session with a Heffron person. You’ll find you can almost hear the same practical advice in what you’re reading.

I genuinely believe the Companion and Toolkit will be enormously valuable to your practice. And in fact, I know it will – our business is just like yours and our staff have already become some of the most active users of both.

If haven’t already had a good look at both, I would urge you to sign up for a demonstration. We run them all the time – click here to register your interest. Or email our team on sales@heffron.com.au