Speaking to SMSF Adviser’s sister publication AccountantsDaily, Greg Hayes, joint managing director at Hayes Knight, said so long as accountants can continue to operate under the exemption there is no impetus to act now.
“To do so would simply bring on additional cost, work and professional development responsibility,” he said.
“The current market commentary expressing surprise at the lack of action by accountants to date reflects a lack of understanding of the accounting market.”
Mr Hayes' call is, however, at odds with recent warnings from many industry stakeholders.
The industry bodies have been a strong voice in calling for accountants to act now, which Mr Hayes described as understandable, but cautioned that what is good for the industry as a whole may not be cost effective for individual firms.
“From the industry bodies’ point of view, their concern is that we get to 1 July 2016 and the accountants haven’t done anything, or enough of their membership haven’t done anything, and then all of a sudden the media will be saying accountants have had two years to prepare for this and done nothing.
“From the industry bodies’ point of view, that puts the profession in a bad light because they weren’t the profession to be taking a leading role.”
Mr Hayes said many of the other institutions calling on accountants to act now have more self-serving interests.
“From the institutions’ point of view, who are out there saying, 'we have a solution for you', it is much more about the benefit to the institution than the benefit for the accountant.”
Our clear message to accounting firms is 'do not rush', said Mr Hayes.
“We have plenty of examples of firms who have rushed into something and said, ‘Oh hold on, I think I’ve done the wrong thing, I don’t think I’ve done what is going to necessarily be best for me’.
“You actually do have time to think about this, work out what is going to be best for your firm, what your business model is going to be like and then start to put in place the pieces that need to be there.
“The market knows they don’t need to be rushed and they don’t want to rushed; they want to take a considered view and then they want to get themselves either authorised or licensed at the time that’s appropriate for them,” Mr Hayes said.
Knowledge Shop, an associated company of Hayes Knight, provides practice support services to more than 1,500 accounting firms across Australia, including webinars on the licensing issue.
“This engagement gives us a very good pulse of what the accounting profession is thinking at any time," Mr Hayes said.
"The majority of firms that we speak with are using the current year to consider and decide between their options. 2015 will be the year to complete any necessary training or qualification and they will have their position in place during the first half of 2016,” he said.