In response to the question ‘Is the phase-out period for the accountants’ exemption long enough?’, 56.2 per cent of the 315 respondents voted ‘no.’ The remaining 43.8 per cent, or 138 respondents, voted ‘yes.’
However, the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) said the three-year transitional period should be long enough for accountants to prepare for the replacement of the accountants’ exemption.
“Initially, the government was going to provide two years and then with further lobbying it was extended to three years. It was highly unlikely that any longer period was going to be granted,” the IPA’s executive general manager, Vicki Stylianou, told SMSF Adviser.
“The IPA has always held the view that accountants should be preparing earlier rather than leaving it to the last minute. Given the time it may take for some accountants to gain RG 146 qualifications and to prepare and then apply for a license… the sooner they act the better.”
Ms Stylianou added that with the legislative imperative aside, there are many “valid business reasons” to consider becoming licensed under an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL).
“The market, driven by technology, competition and other factors, is moving quickly, and the IPA has been encouraging members to adapt and move earlier during the transition period,” she added.
The transition period accountants have been granted to move from the accountants’ exemption to the AFSL regime has been previously labelled “generous” by the Financial Planning Association (FPA).
FPA general manager of policy and standards Dante De Gori told SMSF Adviser that although the three-year timeframe is not problematic, the phase-out period lacks “action points”.
“The accountants’ exemption is effectively a three-year phase-out, which means there is no incentive… to try and encourage accountants to go before 30 June 2016. So they can continue using the exemption for another two and a half years,” Mr De Gori said.
“There [are] effectively no action points within that three-year period to encourage accountants to go through the process and understand their obligations, and there is no awareness for ASIC to understand how many will want to become planners.”