Accountants warned on delaying licensing

In spite of warnings that compliance work for accountants is dwindling, recent data show expectations that accountants would get their SMSF licensing sorted early have not been realised.

Speaking to SMSF Adviser, the Institute of Public Accountants executive general manager, leadership Ms Stylianou said early indications from various industry surveys suggested that 30 per cent of accountants were interested in getting licensed in 2013, but only 25 per cent in 2014.

“Over the last six months it was expected, or hoped, that accountants would start applying to either obtain a limited license through ASIC or become authorised representatives of AFSL holders. Early estimates do not seem to have been realised,” Ms Stylianou said.

In relation to the limited license, treasury estimated that about 10,000 accountants would apply, Ms Stylianou said. So far, approximately 20-30 have obtained a limited license.

However, Ms Stylianou said this figure may improve “dramatically” once accountants realised that the requirements for applying for a limited license were not as onerous as they were at the beginning of the transition period.

“To its credit, ASIC has made the application process more practical; and has issued extensive guidance on how to apply,” Ms Stylianou said.

“Compliance once a license has been granted is another matter; and some accountants may not fully realise that about 90 per cent of the Corporations Act applies to the limited license including the licensing obligations in section 912A.”

Ms Stylianou also indicated getting a licence cannot be left to the last minute, and that accountants need to allow themselves enough time to deal with ASIC’s requirements.

“Accountants have to accept the changes and get on with deciding how to respond to them,” she said.

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