Of the 115 respondents to the question ‘Should professional association membership be a compulsory requirement of advising on SMSFs?’ 68.7 per cent answered ‘yes’, with the remaining 31.3 per cent answering ‘no’.
Both the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) and the SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia (SPAA) told SMSF Adviser these results are “surprising”.
Executive general manager of the IPA Vicki Stylianou said while the Institute would welcome compulsory membership for SMSF advisers, it wouldn’t actively lobby the government for it.
She added that professional membership can enhance a practitioner’s value proposition because of the “extra layer of rigour” required to be a member.
“I think also it is a point of differentiation for those who are members. If you’re a member, certainly with one of the professional accounting bodies like the IPA, you are subjected to quite rigorous professional and ethical standards,” Ms Stylianou said.
SPAA’s education manager, Liz Ward, added that while the association is not mandating “third party enforcement”, it suggests professional association membership is a way to motivate practitioners to increase their standards of knowledge and competence.
“It wouldn’t be our line to say that [membership] should be categorically mandatory because it’s not the way [the SMSF sector] works. However, in terms of encouraging people to be more competent… that’s a fantastic thing.”
Some respondents to the straw poll have nevertheless suggested compuslory professional association membership would not be beneficial, with one respondent saying “paying a fee to another association wouldn't achieve anything”.