Accountants are becoming concerned that growing demand for personal financial advice from clients is putting them at risk of exceeding their professional expertise.

A high net-worth retirement lending adviser commissioned a survey of 105 accountants last month, and found 36 per cent had experienced an increase in demand for financial advice in the past 12 months.

This growth in demand is causing concern, with 31 per cent of the accountants asked saying they are worried some of the advice they are giving goes beyond their core expertise and 6 per cent stating they have gone ahead and provided detailed financial advice themselves. Almost 45 per cent of the accountants polled believe their work with IFAs will increase over the next 24 months as a result of recent changes to pension rules.

Pension advice was described by 78 per cent of accountants as an area where clients were looking for help, followed by 61 per cent stating income and capital gains tax mitigation and 60 per cent suggesting clients requested help with inheritance tax planning.

A third of accountants received enquirers on accessing property wealth and equity release. Soon after last year’s at-retirement reforms, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales suggested that the changes have become a catalyst for “expertise sharing” between accountants and advisers, who both need to learn more about their peers’ specialisms to property assist clients.

The institute’s technical manager for financial planning and advice, John Gaskell, explained that as accountants were already the first port of call for many on issues such as inheritance tax and pension tax, they already had trusted relationships with many older people.

(FTAdviser, March 2016, Peter Walker)

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