Dealer groups ‘scaremongering’ on limited licensing
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) is urging practitioners to apply a high level of scepticism to the licensing process, warning that some dealer groups are providing misleading or false information.
Speaking to SMSF Adviser, CAANZ head of superannuation Liz Westover said licensees are often overstating the relationship and the work they do with the professional accounting bodies and exaggerating the amount of time required for compliance.
“Some of the scaremongering we’ve seen is coming from potential licensees,” said Ms Westover.
“I have seen them inflate the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining your own licence, so basically trying to direct accountants into seeking authorisation under their licence or their product offering rather than [seeking] their own licences.”
In some cases, Ms Westover said, the licensees are suggesting the time required to be spent on complaince by a responsible manager for a small firm is too onerous to undertake.
“I recently spoke to a member who had made a decision on what to do but then received a letter from a legal firm touting all this information that simply wasn’t correct,” she said.
“They started to panic, [thinking] they’d made the wrong decision because they’d received information that was wrong.”
Ms Westover said accountants should be asking potential licensees plenty of questions, including what the ongoing compliance obligations will be, what costs the licensee is charging and who will actually own the clients.
Accountants should also find out if they have to complete their training with the dealer group or if they have the flexibility to obtain training elsewhere, and if the dealer group has an understanding of how professional accountants actually operate, she said.
“We’re not suggesting for one minute one way is better than another; what we are saying is use our materials, by all means talk to potential licensees, but talk to your colleagues and your peers and talk to those who’ve already been through the decision making process,” she said.
“We’re saying engage with us, use the resources we’ve developed and use a little professional scepticism about the information that’s being provided by people who might have a vested interest in [you choosing] to go one way or another.”