Accountants urged to fill succession planning advice void
Succession planning for small businesses has been slated as an area of advice opportunity for accountants, as a mid-tier spots “great reluctance” in broaching the subject.
HLB Mann Judd partner Nicholas Guest said there was an opportunity to tap into a growing population of small business owners who were above the age of 60, even though it may be a touchy subject.
“In the 2016 census, around 20 per cent of businesses in Australia were owned by individuals over the age of 60, and 175,000 individuals over the age 65 who are still principally engaged in a full or part-time basis, working on their own operated business,” said Mr Guest.
“It's a challenging and confronting topic for a lot of individuals and it's not often purely a financial decision, there are decisions around their lifestyle and confronting that they may be transitioning to a retirement at some point in time.
“Very realistically, it is not easy to have these discussions, particularly if it is a family business and there's a whole lot of emotions not only with just the principal founder and their identity connection with the business but also their thoughts and desires and realisations that there isn't a child or relative who is willing and able to come through and run the business or fund them out of the business.”
Mr Guest also said small business owners were often leaving succession planning to the last minute, leading to poorer outcomes.
“Any decision needs to be a structured decision, and the best outcome will be achieved with having time so the sooner these discussions can start, the sooner the planning can occur,” said Mr Guest.
“There are quite generous concessions within the CGT environment for business owners to exit their business and get the proceeds out quite tax effectively, and again it's all about the planning around that.”
The Institute of Public Accountants senior tax adviser Tony Greco earlier said that the lack of conversation around estate planning, either for individuals or businesses, was a letdown.
“The importance of estate planning isn’t recognised whilst everything is fine,” said Mr Greco.
“No one wants to talk about death, no one wants to talk about succession planning, and it’s an Australia-wide issue that we don’t want to talk about these things.”