ASIC reminded those accountants without an AFSL and who do not intend to become an authorised representative of an AFS licensee to start applying for a limited AFSL now if they want to keep giving advice after 30 June 2016.
“Accountants who do not lodge applications which meet ASIC’s requirements by 1 March 2016 run a significant risk that their application will not be assessed before 30 June 2016,” ASIC said in a public statement.
ASIC has, to date, only received 160 applications for the limited AFSL and has granted only 70 licences, despite the application process having been open for the past two years.
The regulator's deputy chairman, Peter Kell, said accountants should ensure they have allowed enough time to properly prepare an application and to undertake any relevant training.
“Where an application is in good order, ASIC can assess the application within four weeks, but if further details are required because the information provided is insufficient, this will take longer,” said Mr Kell.
Licensing for Accountants' chief executive, Kath Bowler, said ASIC's message has effectively cut three months from the time accountants have to complete their training.
“So there’s now only six months left to complete their training, if they want to apply for their own licence,” said Ms Bowler.
One possible reason why ASIC sent this message could relate to the initial limited application numbers, and ASIC may be expecting a last minute rush.
However, Ms Bowler said the main reason for ASIC informing accountants of their deadline is to get them moving.
“Accountants have been extremely slow, unfortunately, in this licensing area, and I guess ASIC is doing what it can to get them moving and make them realise that time is running out,” she said.
“Certainly our experience is that nearly half haven’t even made a decision about how they’re going to tackle licensing.”
Speaking to SMSF Adviser’s sister publication Accountants Daily, IPA executive general manager, advocacy and technical, Vicki Stylianou said the Institute of Public Accountants is pleased ASIC has put out a warning to accountants.
Ms Stylianou said while there is no ruling around this March 1 date, the initiative gives accountants a good idea of the length of time it will take to process the last-minute applications expected by the regulator.
“ASIC has always said that if all your documents are in place then it takes them like 28 days to process, so if they get this flood at the last minute, they're not going to process them within the last 28 days,” she said.
“[ASIC] have been given extra funding through the budget process, but that doesn't mean that people are necessarily going to get their application done within the 28 days if there were suddenly 500 of them.”