Automating foreign investment transactions

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1 White Paper Automating foreign investment transactions A practical solution for accountants and advisers managing SMSFs and investment portfolios After the onslaught of the Global Financial Crisis in , Australian investors turned their back on international assets and instead focused their attention on local investments. It wasn t until late 2011/2012 that confidence levels started to lift. Since then, demand for foreign assets has been steadily increasing, further bolstered by growing concerns about a slowing Australian economy. Investors are rediscovering the importance of asset diversification to balance investment risks and take advantage of strong international growth opportunities. Investment Trends research in April 2014 highlighted that 21% of SMSF investors intended to increase their exposure to international assets over the next 12 months up from 10% in the previous year.* So there s clearly a strong demand for diversification into international assets and it s almost certainly set to keep increasing. However, accounting for foreign assets has generally been highly complex and incredibly time consuming. Even for practices where foreign investments are an infrequent task, the process is still billed as an accountant s nightmare. Meanwhile, in 2014 financial planners estimated they were investing 31% of new SMSF inflows in international assets, up from 25% the previous year. They expected that figure to grow to 35% over the following 12 months.* In parallel 28% of accountants said they were currently advising SMSF clients (or were interested in doing so) on obtaining exposure to international assets.* Given the demand and the inherent challenges, Class set out to develop a solution that eliminates the spreadsheets, complexity and write-offs that our clients associate with this asset class. This white paper takes a look at the features and functionality of Class foreign asset support and the powerful benefits it delivers to accountants, advisers and administrators. * Investment Trends 2014 SMSF Investor, Planner and Accountant reports.

2 Increased Demand for International Assets Investment Trends 2014 SMSF Investor, Planner and Accountant Reports Copyright Class Super Pty Ltd ABN AFSL

3 Accounting Automation of Foreign Assets To address industry trends and the needs of our clients, Class has developed industry-first foreign asset support for international equities and bank accounts for our cloud-based investment accounting solutions: Class Super (SMSF administration) Class Investment Reporter (investment portfolio reporting). Class provides SMSF professionals and investment portfolio administrators a greatly simplified solution to process and account for foreign equities and cash. The solution is set to change the way the industry views this asset class, eliminating the complexity and time previously involved for accountants, administrators and advisers. Trustees and investors trading international assets through supported broker and wrap services, will have access to direct-connect data feeds which will substantially reduce processing time and improve accuracy. Class users will have access to daily pricing and exchange rates for 8 markets and 20 currencies; automated tax and accounting; and comprehensive reporting and audit tracking. Class has designed this solution with client and industry consultation, observation of user practices and extensive analysis of the rules and regulations surrounding foreign assets. This white paper looks at the challenges of accounting for foreign assets, and the automated solutions Class has developed to address these challenges. Class foreign asset support really nails the brief. The fit to cash functionality is beautiful in its simplicity. And for any Class users who don t need to process foreign assets just now, the new functionality is not going to get in their way but it s there whenever they wish to use it. It s the perfect combination. Kris Kitto, Superfund Wholesale Historically, investing in foreign assets directly has been difficult for SMSF trustees and investors. Breaking down some of these barriers by making it easier to access foreign investment markets directly, and making it easier to process these transactions, will help more SMSFs access these markets and to diversify their investment portfolios Peter Burgess, AMP Copyright Class Super Pty Ltd ABN AFSL

4 Foreign Equities To support foreign equities, the obvious challenge is that you need access to the security master lists and pricing for each exchange. However, just as importantly, it s critical to understand the base currency that a foreign security is likely to be traded in, and then have the ability to deal with any variance in exchange rates that needs to be accommodated. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) provides a list of daily benchmark rates for a wide range of currencies. However, real trade transactions are unlikely to occur at these theoretical rates due to transaction timing and commercial arrangements. It s essential that trades are recorded and accounted for as per the actual contract notes, not the RBA rates. Dealing with foreign income can be trickier than dealing with trades. The same issues arise around currency variance, so along with knowing what a holding s income entitlement is, you need to be able to account for what actually arrives in your bank account if it s not in the same currency. On top of this, as a foreign investor your income will be subject to withholding tax at a rate that varies from country to country. Class knows about these rates and applies them as required. One of the surprising practices that was uncovered in our analysis is that many accountants are leaving foreign tax credits on the table. Why is that? It s because the cost of doing the accounting to recoup them can consume huge amounts of time and is cost prohibitive. A key objective of the automation provided by Class is to make claiming tax credits easy and as simple as processing domestic income. Class support for foreign equities includes listed and unlisted shares. Class offers the following functionality for foreign equities: Automated daily pricing and revaluation of listed equities. Daily exchange rates used to automatically convert purchases, sales, and dividend income. Income announcements to automatically generate foreign dividend income. Foreign tax credits are automatically calculated based on country and income type. Simple corporate actions such as capital return, split and consolidation can be processed instantly and in bulk across multiple funds. Smart cash and event transaction matching in Australian Dollars - whilst retaining all underlying foreign data. Fit to cash functionality allows your event transaction (eg purchase, sale, dividend) to automatically adjust the exchange rate to fit to the cash amount. Comprehensive reporting, reconciliation worksheets and audit trail. Copyright Class Super Pty Ltd ABN AFSL

5 Fit to Cash Functionality Class transaction matching allows you to match the cash transaction with a corresponding event and automatically generate the underlying journal entries. As there can be differences in the exchange rate used for each event and the translation of the cash physically paid or received, Class has developed smart fit to cash functionality. This allows users to automatically adjust the exchange rate applied to the event (eg purchase or sale) to match the cash transaction. All rate adjustments have complete audit tracking with supporting worksheets. Here s how it works. Meet Fred. Fred is looking forward to a comfortable retirement and regularly meets with his financial adviser to review his asset allocation. He s aware that foreign equities hold significant growth opportunities and decides to purchase a number of listed overseas shares including Apple Inc and Google in his Healthy Retirement SMSF. Fred s accountant, Claire, uses Class to administer Fred s SMSF and his family s investment portfolios. Claire automatically receives the trade information via daily data feeds from the broker and the fund s bank. Claire is very happy when she sees that the overseas stocks have already been translated from US Dollars using the daily exchange rate, and that all the foreign currency information has been retained with each transaction. Claire produces a Foreign Asset Worksheet that details the translation information which reconciles to her source documentation. Claire has saved a significant amount of time and hasn t needed to prepare any spreadsheets, translate foreign amounts or look up exchange rates. The investments have been automatically revalued, corporate actions processed, and all information including dividend income has flowed through to the fund s financial statements and annual return. Fred is then able to log in using his ipad to check his investment portfolio, current asset allocation and income earned. Fred can also view the realised and unrealised capital gains information, which helps him with future investment decisions. Copyright Class Super Pty Ltd ABN AFSL

6 Foreign Cash Accounts Dealing with foreign cash accounts can be counter-intuitive if you re not familiar with the rules. For a start, it may seem odd that FX gains are captured as capital gains on cash, and that a cash holding may have cost base parcels just like shares. On top of that, the Australian Tax Office provides a number of optional methods for dealing with these gains but importantly, for many accounts, it s likely that you can claim an exemption as outlined below. Accounting and tax elections The Australian Taxation Office outlines a number of accounting and tax elections that can be applied to foreign cash accounts. Class currently supports the following: $250,000 balance exemption: This essentially means that by making an election you can disregard certain foreign currency gains and losses for tax purposes on qualifying forex accounts with balances below the specified limit. However where conditions aren t satisfied, you can easily select one of the other two methods of FIFO or Retranslation to account for forex gains or losses. Retranslation Election: Where this election has been made, the gains and losses from a qualifying forex account will be brought to account at the end of each financial year on a retranslation basis. This is a simpler method than FIFO, but can bring to account gains or losses that would otherwise not have been realised. FIFO (First-in, first-out) Ordering: In selecting this option, any forex realisation event, such as a disposal of currency, will apply firstly to the first units of fungible currency available, being monetary assets, rights and obligations. The gain or loss is then realised for tax purposes at the time of the event or disposal. For accounting purposes, FIFO methodology is applied in accordance with the foreign exchange measures. You can find further information on the above on the Australian Taxation Office website and from the applicable accounting standards. Class foreign cash account feature provides access to the following functionality for the 20 most widely held currencies: Daily exchange rates and access to historical exchange rate information. Ability to load foreign cash transactions and automatically convert to Australian Dollars based on the applicable exchange rate. Automatic calculation of foreign exchange gains or losses. Parcel history maintained for each transaction to allow change in tax election methodology. Smart cash and event transaction matching in Australian Dollars - whilst retaining all underlying foreign data. Comprehensive reporting, reconciliation worksheets and audit trail. The new foreign asset functionality from Class makes processing of international equities dramatically faster. Having a system that can readily apply cross rates and dividend amounts will generate huge time savings, and allow us to focus on delivering higher value services. It s a practical real life solution, and for us, the ease of managing cross rate variances means the system just works. Andrew Keleher, SuperXperience Copyright Class Super Pty Ltd ABN AFSL

7 Here s how it works. Meet Jennifer. Jennifer wants to invest in Japanese Yen and US Dollars via her Comfy Living SMSF. She opens an overseas bank account for each foreign currency and begins making regular transfers to take advantage of anticipated exchange rate movements. Roy, Jennifer s accountant, loads the bank movements into Class where each foreign denominated amount is converted automatically to Australian Dollars, using the appropriate day s exchange rate. For each transaction, the foreign currency and exchange rate information is retained with a complete audit trail. Based on the elections made, Roy applies the $250,000 exemption for the Japanese Yen denominated account and a Retranslation Election for the US Dollar account as the balance exceeds the exemption limit. Class automatically calculates the foreign currency gains and losses for each account and applies the appropriate accounting and tax treatment. Roy is able to produce a worksheet that details all account movements, exchange rates used and any manual overrides for his file and the fund s auditor. The fund s accounts are also up to date without the need for messy spreadsheets and complex calculations. Jennifer checks in on her Samsung Galaxy to see her asset allocation and investment performance. She s happy to see her foreign bank account information is up to date and that she can view her current foreign exchange position. Reporting With all the exchange rate variances that foreign assets introduce, users told us that it s easy for mistakes to creep in and it can hard to find them. Having reconciliation reporting and worksheets was a key requirement raised by many users. With Class, a range of reports can be produced to assist in reconciliation, accounts preparation and audit. These will replace the complex spreadsheets and calculations that are prepared today. Meanwhile, full audit traceability supports the integrity of the automation. Existing Class reports have been updated to support foreign assets. These updates include new asset classes, general ledger accounts, improved display of information on financial statements, adjustments to tax calculations plus other report enhancements. In addition, Class has three new reports specifically designed to reconcile between the foreign currency and Australian Dollars. Each of the below reports details the exchange rate applied, the applicable RBA rate, any exchange rate variances and other relevant transaction information such as foreign tax credits and brokerage: Foreign Income Worksheet Foreign Asset Worksheet Foreign Bank Account Movement Report Copyright Class Super Pty Ltd ABN AFSL

8 Exchange Rates, Market Data and Transaction Feeds At launch, Class supports eight foreign share markets and the 20 currencies covered by the RBA. Over the coming months, we will continue to add new exchanges and will provide support for currencies outside the RBA list. The addition of new exchanges will be driven by client demand, so please let us know if your favourite is missing. Foreign Listed Securities Data and Foreign Exchange Rates Class sources data for Australian and international markets from a range of leading providers of market and financial data. All are widely used by many of the largest financial services institutions. The source of our exchange rate information depends on its type: Spot exchange rate information is compiled from multiple sources in order to obtain the most accurate rates. The two primary sources are Morningstar and Six Financial Information. These data providers collate data from many of the largest forex trading desks run by banks and brokers. Official exchange rates are sourced directly from the central bank or other government organisations from each country for example, from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). Class currently uses the official end of day exchange rates from the RBA where it is available, and spot exchange rates where an RBA rate is not available. Direct-Connect Data Feeds Class direct-connect data feeds now support foreign securities, holdings and transactions for the growing number of brokers and platform providers that have introduced direct foreign investment support. These data feeds will enable foreign securities to be created in Class, and holding balance and transactions to be loaded seamlessly. Supported foreign markets. XNYS XNAS XLON XTSE XHKG New York Stock Exchange NASDAQ London Stock Exchange Toronto Stock Exchange Hong Kong XSES XNZE XTKS Singapore Exchange New Zealand Tokyo Stock Exchange Supported currencies. USD CNY JPY EUR KRW NZD GBP United States Dollar Chinese Renminbi Japanese Yen Euro South Korean Won New Zealand Dollar British Pounds SGD INR THB MYR IDR VND AED Singapore Dollar Indian Rupee Thai Baht Malaysian Ringgit Indonesian Rupiah Vietnamese Dong United Arab Emirates Dirham PGK HKD CAD ZAR CHF PHP Papuan New Guinea Kina Hong Kong Dollar Canadian Dollar South African Rand Swiss Franc Philippines Peso Copyright Class Super Pty Ltd ABN AFSL

9 Are you a Class Client? If you re an existing Class client, please refer to the Class User Guide which provides comprehensive details on using this new functionality. Discover the Benefits Class foreign asset support delivers major benefits to you and your clients. Here s a quick summary. Reduce the time you spend accounting for foreign assets. You ll quickly discover that automated translation, processing and accounting and tax treatment saves significant time. Then you can focus on delivering more profitable services. Reduce write-offs and improve profitability. Saving time and improving client service means better results for your bottom line. Reduce spreadsheets, calculators and paperwork. With Class smart processing, automatic income generation and daily direct-connect data feeds you can significantly reduce the manual work involved in processing foreign assets and improve accuracy. Foreign transactions are converted using daily sourced exchange rates and pricing. Comprehensive reporting and audit trail. Foreign equities and cash transactions are simple to reconcile and communicate to your clients, advisers and auditors. Class has developed a range of reports providing information on foreign income, purchases, sales, gains, cash movements and exchange rates used. Diversify without the headache. Now it s easy to support your clients with diversification through international exposure. You can forget about the previous complexity, time costs, manual work and challenges of sourcing the right information. Provide up-to-date information and access. Not only do you have up to date information on foreign asset transactions you can also provide your clients and their advisers an up-to-date view of their investment portfolio on any device, anywhere, anytime. Copyright Class Super Pty Ltd ABN AFSL

10 About Class Class is the developer of Australia s marketleading SMSF cloud administration software, Class Super, and the powerful investment reporting solution, Class Investment Reporter (CIR). Every day, thousands of accountants and financial advisers rely on Class to efficiently administer and report on over 70,000 funds. To learn more about Class foreign asset support, or for further information on Class Super or Class Investment Reporter, call , us at or visit Class Level 3, 228 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 P E W class.com.au Copyright Class Super Pty Ltd ABN AFSL

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