CPA hits back at critics of SMSF accountants

In spite of suggestions to the contrary from ASIC and other industry stakeholders, CPA Australia insists most accountants are actively preparing for the phase-out of the accountants' exemption.

Speaking to SMSF Adviser, CPA policy adviser, financial planning, Keddie Waller said accountants have in fact been looking at the limited licence but are still completing their training.

“Realistically, one of the reasons we advocated for a three-year transition period is because it would take most accountants on average between 18 months and two years to actually complete the training,” said Ms Waller.

“So if you look at that timeframe you wouldn’t expect the bulk of members to apply until later this year or early next year.”

Ms Waller said she disagrees with the view that accountants are ignoring the issue because she spends most of her day talking to CPA Australia’s members about limited licensing and has seen consistent enrolments every day.

“Really, the focus is getting the training done. So they are thinking about it; it’s just a matter of taking the steps before you apply,” she said.

Ms Waller said there have, however, been a “lot of mixed messages over what’s changing” due to the number of stakeholders in this space.

“The main thing that will change from 30 June 2016 is the streamlining provisions will go – at the moment if you’re a member of one of the professional accounting bodies and you hold a public practice certificate, you are deemed to have met the experience requirements.

“Post-30 June 2016, the streamlined provision will be repealed; it will cease to exist, and essentially if a member wants to continue giving a recommendation to set up or wind up an SMSF, they’ll have to become an authorised representative with the training set by the licensee."

Ms Waller said the required training will be at the discretion of the licensee.

“Realistically, there won’t be much difference because if they’re going to be licensed it gives them the same sort of authorisations as a limited licence so their training needs should be the same,” she said.

“They just won’t be able to apply for their licence without becoming authorised and working under someone else in the industry first.”

Some members only provide advice very rarely or half a dozen times a year, so becoming licensed would not be worth the additional compliance cost, she added.

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