Don’t rely on ASIC’s leniency, accounting body warns

With reports that ASIC is already shadow shopping, those accountants hoping ASIC will take a light enforcement approach to the new SMSF licensing regime after 30 June this year are putting themselves in the regulator’s firing line, one accounting body has warned.

While ASIC can traditionally be “a little lighter” in terms of enforcement at the beginning of a new regime, accountants should not be relying on any form of grace period once the accountants’ exemption expires on 30 June, the Institute of Public Accountants' executive general manager – advocacy and technical, Vicki Stylianou, told SMSF Adviser.

She noted there has been an extensive transitional period for accountants to get their licensing arrangements sorted, with The Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) reforms effectively being in the works for six years.

“If you get any kind of leniency then you’re lucky, but definitely do not rely on it and be as prepared as you must be come 1 July,” Ms Stylianou said.

“It is really going to be crunch time come 1 July,” she said.

Ms Stylianou echoed ASIC’s sentiments, and believes there will be a substantial portion of the accounting community who will exit SMSF advice.

“There’s a lot who have decided they don’t do enough of them, so it’s not worth beefing up or staying in, so they’re just going to exit,” she said.

Late last week, ASIC reported an increase in the number of applications received for a limited licence, but commissioner Greg Tanzer believes many accountants have “changed their business model” for the provision of SMSF advice after 30 June.

“We think that probably a lot of people have decided either not to get a limited licence and actually to operate under someone else’s licence, or that they have changed their business model so that they won’t be advising on establishing or operating an SMSF, but instead they’ll be referring that business to somebody who is,” Mr Tanzer said.

Read more: 

AMP’s SMSF arm restructure sees further staff shifts

Surprising barriers to female leadership in accounting firms

Managed funds popularity spikes as loan numbers fall

Research points to looming client retention issue for advisers

SUBSCRIBE TO THE SMSF ADVISER BULLETIN

promoted stories

Strategy