ASIC warns of 'significant risk' with licensing

ASIC has identified key deficiencies in limited licence applications – resulting in more than 80 applications being withdrawn so far  and warned that those lagging with their submissions face a “significant risk” of not being approved by deadline.

At the end of August, ASIC had received only 161 applications for the limited licence.

“This number is very low if you consider the number of accountants who are likely to rely on the exemption,” said ASIC senior manager Trevor Clarke at the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand National SMSF Conference on the Gold Coast earlier this week.

Of that 161, 70 have been approved, seven are currently under assessment and 82 have been withdrawn by the applicant because they had supplied insufficient information.

One applicant converted from a limited to a full licence, and “interestingly”, one application had an offer withdrawn after information surfaced that was not originally disclosed to ASIC, Mr Clarke said.

Some of the common issues that ASIC has seen in applications include insufficient evidence of training course completion, failure to include critical mandatory financial information, and failure to provide evidence of adequate professional indemnity insurance, Mr Clarke said.

“If issues can be rectified easily, we will give the applicant the chance to do so. However, if it can’t, we will give the applicant the option of withdrawing the application so they can attend to the issue,” he said.

Mr Clarke also expressed concern about those accountants who have yet to lodge their limited licence applications.

“Those who delay lodging their application until soon before June 2016 may very well find themselves unable to advise on SMSFs for a period of time until we finalise the assessment of the application,” Mr Clarke said.

“If we receive an influx of applications, depending on the numbers, processing the applications may take several months.

“We encouraged accountants applying to do so by 1 March 2016. This date is not mandatory, but if you lodge it past this date, you are facing significant risk that the application will not be assessed before 30 June [2016],” he said.

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