Auditor points to ‘common’ independence breaches
One SMSF auditor has called for more regulatory action to be taken against SMSF auditors who are not effectively self-regulating, and therefore breaching, their independence obligations.
Speaking to SMSF Adviser, chief executive of Engage Super Audits Jo Heighway said not enough is being done in the regulatory sense to combat independence issues wthin the SMSF sector.
Ms Heighway suggested there are many auditors who are content to potentially breach their independence obligations until they are approached by the regulator.
“There needs to be more active action being taken,” Ms Heighway said. “The general attitude does tend to be ‘I know that I’m not independent, but I’m going to wait until I’m told to do something’.
“I don’ think there’s enough focus on the importance of that self-regulation side. If you are coming to that conclusion, it’s not OK to wait for someone to tell you,” she added.
However, in today’s Q&A, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand’s head of superannuation, Liz Westover, believes the ATO has been “very effective” in combatting independence issues.
“What the ATO has actually said is that their issues around independence are actually down, but still think there’s an area of focus and there’s more that can be done,” Ms Westover told SMSF Adviser.
Ms Heighway also said that while auditor registration has had some positive impacts, she believes the ongoing requirements could be improved.
“The big question, I think, especially with the ones who got in early under grandfathering, is whether the requirements ongoing for the experience component are high enough,” Ms Heighway said.