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I was a SMSFer but now a proud SAPEPer

I love strategy.

I was lucky enough to do a Master of Laws specialising in taxation with Australia’s top tax gurus and strategists including Professors and OECD tax gurus. They showed me how to look at the laws, pull them to pieces and build strategies from the ground up. Sounds simple but nothing could be further from the truth. Unless you know something really well you cannot do strategy or if you try there can be some nasty dangers ahead.

For me, it is all about strategy. Whether it is a business strategy through Abbott & Mourly lawyers and LightYear Docs or helping out accountants and advisers with client matters. For me the harder the better. I like to get out of situations that others say are impossible. But mind you I spent most waking moments dealing with adviser questions, client strategies as well as reading cases and rulings so I know where to look for solutions. Believe it or not, my best strategies are provided by the Commissioner of Taxation. Thank you Commish!

Happy Times with our Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan and ex-partner of mine at KPMG

Strategy moves like Tax and Super Changes

I found the strategy light starting with taxation in the 1980s and then it folded into superannuation and by 1994 I was strategising about SMSFs. Since then, I have written five books on SMSFs and given more than 1,500 talks but they are not the professional love of my life anymore.

I know you might be shocked, but times and my thinking move on. I have a full head of SMSF knowledge and strategy but expect over time that they will be called on to fund more of the revenue load of the Budget. This means more taxes, fewer contributions, and a tightening strategy market.

And then lucky me falls into an advising market that is very new in terms of its strategic thinking – asset protection and estate planning. With $9 trillion in residential property in Australia, mostly in individual hands (courtesy of tax incentives), there is a lot of family wealth exposed to litigation and family provisions claims on death. And the traditional putting assets in a spouse’s name is the worst asset protection mechanism in the event of a separation or divorce.

So these days, my strategies are focused on succession, asset protection, and estate planning – SAPEP for short. And for us advisers in this space we are known as SAPEPers and we love it because it is filled with end-to-end strategies protecting a family’s wealth. And what more noble cause is there than that. To protect a family’s legacy which can take lifetimes to build and one or two legal cases to rip apart, whether it is from the Commissioner, a family provisions claim seeking to destroy a Will, litigation, family law, or bankruptcy.

SAPEP Strategy

Strategy is a plan of action with the desire to bring about a certain course of events. In terms of SAPEP, it is a plan of action that will result in the protection and growth of Family Wealth for generations.

But there are good, bad, and great strategies with the difference being the mind, knowledge, and skills of the person that created the strategy! As with SMSFs, my goal has always been to spend the time researching, learning, reading, and immersing myself in SAPEP knowledge and the application of knowledge and the law to client facts and circumstances. I can't tell you how many family provisions cases that I have read over the last year, but it is into triple figures.

Now the more I have learned, the more I have written and the more I loved testing and developing SAPEP strategies. Irrespective of whether the economy goes up or down my SAPEP strategic skills will continue to grow. If the government makes a change to SAPEP as it always will then I am being provided with another opportunity to enhance and build my strategic skills. The beauty of developing your mind to build the best SAPEP strategies possible is that you are creating and developing something that is uniquely yours – no one can take it away from you – it is a capital asset. It is not dependent upon exterior factors and is something that you can grow or let die should you so choose.

The bigger and more elegant the SAPEP strategy, look at the Moat and Castle - the better the reward. If I can devise a great SAPEP estate plan for a client with $2M in assets, then I deserve to be appropriately remunerated. And I have seen a number of successful and current SAPEP advisers charging beyond $20,000+ for a Moat and Castle strategy.

“Focus on strategy - be an expert in investing in yourself with SAPEP education and building your repertoire of strategies. Then go out and build the number of clients you have in the $1M+ market or the potential to get there in a decade or so, provide them with a strong SAPEP advising platform covering complete family protection restructuring, succession planning with Leading Member, family provisions proof estate planning, incapacity and how to build a multi-generational family wealth protection vehicle. Find out all about their family and build a family's trust.”

The next five to ten years, provided your SAPEP business model and plan is sound and more importantly executed, will provide not only great opportunities but guaranteed business success. Personally, I am more excited about SAPEP than I have ever been. Damn if I am going to retire when there is so much fun be had.

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