SMSFs not flagged in standards upgrade

A recent proposal to raise the professional standards that financial advisers need to meet has made no distinction regarding SMSFs, despite their being increasingly regarded as a specialist area of superannuation.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) last month released Consultation Paper 212 (CP212), which proposes to enhance the qualification required to advise on Tier 1 products (which encompasses a vast majority of financial products outside some simple insurance and deposit-like products).

The increase would be from the current diploma-equivalent Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Level 5 to an AQF Level 6 (equivalent to an advanced diploma) in 2015, and then to an AQF Level 7 (equivalent to a bachelor’s degree) in 2019.

Financial services academic Dr Mark Brimble, who is an associate professor of finance at Griffith University, told SMSF Adviser it is “interesting” that SMSFs do not appear in the new framework.

“[SMSFs are] referred to but are not listed as a separate product area, and while I believe the position of ASIC is it’s incorporated into the superannuation product area, there’s still no individual line item in the superannuation knowledge requirement that refers to SMSFs,” he said.

“There’s a lot of emphasis on SMSFs at the moment; it’s the fastest growing super structure by type,” he added.

There are “a whole range of very specific issues” in terms of structuring, reporting, tax requirements and accountability when dealing with SMSFs compared to other financial products and vehicles, he said.

This serves to make SMSFs “quite a separate product”, similar to how the regulators have structured different insurances, Dr Brimble said.

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