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Meg Heffron is co-founder of Heffron SMSF Solutions which is leading the industry from its Hunter Valley base in Maitland, NSW. In this Success Story Meg explains her decision to base the thriving business in a regional location and the consequences for her eponymous business.
While experts struggle to get their heads around the July 1 super legislation changes, Meg has a good understanding of tax on pension payments, options to unlock the value in family homes and she ultimately believes Australia leads the world in allowing people to control their financial destiny.
“Moving to the country is the best investment I’ve made. Initially I resisted strongly, I wanted to stay in the city, I was still in my twenties I was having a great time. I’d lived in the country before, I thought been there, done that and so I resisted, but I would never leave now.”
“It’s a double-edged sword being regional when it comes to employing staff, on the one hand you are choosing from a smaller pool, on the other hand we are THE place to work if you want to specialise in super and live in the Hunter Valley. We have people approaching us, quite senior people saying the next step in my career is to specialise in super. Let me know when you have a job opening. On balance, I think it’s a big positive for us.”
Meg made the most of some stark career advice as a pupil in Ravenswood all girls boarding School.
“I enjoyed maths, I’m perhaps the only person who looked forward to triple maths on a Friday afternoon. And when you are good at maths you end up either in actuary studies or teaching, and all my teachers told me I didn’t have the personal skills to be a teacher, so that left actuarial studies.”
Starting her own business was a decision Meg swore she would not take, having seen how hard it was for her small business owning parents. But she couldn’t resist the opportunity or the opportunistic nature of early stage businesses.
“I can’t say we went into our business expecting to look exactly like this, in fact we were going to be financial planners and were no good at that. What we found when we tried to drum up business by visiting all the local accounting firms was they’ve seen a million financial planners, and they didn’t trust them. But they did have a bunch of Self-Managed Super Funds, that they needed compliance help with. And we’d come from corporate superannuation, we both knew a lot about superannuation law already, so we said look, you push on a lot of doors when you are starting a business, go through the door that actually opens.”
Meg talks about growing her business, her successful wrestle with outsourcing, and the unexpected difficulty in ‘re-stumping’ the technological foundations of the company.
“We have the biggest pension funding system in the world and we, as a society chose to give ownership and control of that to our people if they wanted it. So, the government gives massive tax concessions but then says to all our tax payers, you look after it yourselves. Not surprisingly that creates an environment where if you own the outcome, you are going to want to own the process that gets you there. If Australia gets this wrong, we’ll crash and burn.”
Notwithstanding advice from her high school teachers, Meg’s lifelong passion for superannuation has meant that she has devoted significant energy to education in the sector. She is even comfortable educating their competitors in the name of making Self-Managed Super Funds clearer, simpler and easier for people to manage.
“We do a lot of training that includes not only our clients but also our competitors. I think philosophically our view comes back to how important the superannuation system is in Australia, so many people are involved in this industry, I’m passionate about us collectively getting it right. Heffron is never going to be able to influence the retirements of every single Australian, but we want to best outcomes for those we can reach. So that’s where the passion for education and raising standards comes from.”