Fresh figures released on accountants’ licensing take-up

Over half of all accountants in public practice are yet to apply for a full or limited AFSL or continue to be completely undecided, despite the looming phase-out of the accountants’ exemption, according to research from Investment Trends.

Speaking at the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) conference earlier this week, Investment Trends head of research Recep III Peker said that based on research undertaken in collaboration with CAANZ, there are currently 38,000 accountants in public practice, 33,000 of whom currently provide advice to SMSF trustees.

Of those 33,000, only 5,000 are currently an authorised representative or hold a licence. From the remaining 28,000, around 8,500 accountants plan to apply for the licence; 10,000 plan to refer their clients to other businesses for SMSF advice following the exemption's phase-out; and 3,500 accountants plan to apply for the full licence.

The other 6,000 remain completely undecided on what they will following the phase-out of the exemption.

Mr Peker said the research also indicates there is strong incentive for accountants to be able to provide SMSF advice past 30 June 2016.

Of the 206,000 SMSF trustees that currently use an accountant solely for tax advice, more than half said they would also be willing to receive investment advice from that accountant.

Despite the limited numbers of accountants applying for licencing or becoming authorised, Mr Peker said accountants are largely optimistic about the SMSF part of their business.

“If you look at accountants in general, they say about a fifth of their business income comes from their SMSF clients, and expect this to grow by almost 50 per cent in the next few years,” he said.

“So accountants want to grow their SMSF business and see themselves doing more in the SMSF space.”

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