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Accountants Advising Licence Requirements released

By: Jeff Mazzini| Tags:

Wednesday, 05 June 2013 | Chris Kennedy

Regulation outlining the limited licence for accountants to advise on self-managed super funds (SMSFs), replacing the current accountants’ exemption, has been finalised – but its usefulness has been questioned.

The regulation confirmed that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will “use its existing criteria for making assessments of training and education competency set out in its regulatory guides such as Regulatory Guide 146”.

The regulation also confirmed the limited licence will allow recognised accountant practitioners (defined as an accountant certified by one of the three major accounting bodies) to advise clients on whether or not to set up or dispose of an SMSF, as well as provide limited class of product advice but not to recommend specific products.

Contrary to some expectations, the legislation does not allow for more complex advice such as transition to retirement or insurance advice.

David Lane, chief executive of CBA-aligned, accountancy-focused dealer group Count Financial, questioned how many accountants would want to commit to so much extra training for such a small increase in their capabilities.

“It really is a very limited licence,” Mr Lane toldInvestorDaily. “In reality, you’ll see very few accounting firms take this up.”

Mr Lane said the training required is not significantly different from what is required to get the RG146 qualification.

“Being able to go the next step and recommend a transition to retirement plan or [a specific product], you can’t do that,” he said. “In the conversations I’ve had with accountants they’ve said, ‘why would I do 95 per cent of the training required to become a full authorised rep [if] I can only do 10 per cent of the advice work?’”

Accountants would still have to send clients elsewhere for matters such as insurance advice and transition to retirement advice. “If I have to send them elsewhere and it’s not helping me grow my business, I might as well become a fully-fledged financial adviser and do all the training anyway,” Mr Lane said.

The regulations also provide for a six-year phase-in period, from when the limited licence commences until 1 July 2019, under which licensees who apply are granted relief from the full application process. The main difference between the transition arrangements and the obligations of a full licensee is a reduction in the responsible manager obligations.

“Why cannot everyone be required to complete the same studies and qualifications then the clients will receive the required and best advice no matter where they go for the advice. Resistance to undertaking the full study requirements also has something to do with the need to undertake further continual professional development education. Perhaps with 60,000 accountants in Australia and they are regarded as the most trusted advisors combined with an election coming up this year may also have some effect on the gradual 6 year journey. Sadly clients are the ones that will be inconvenienced here.”


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