Speaking to SMSF Adviser, Sophie Grace Legal director Sophie Gerber said that, across the board, ASIC is conducting more background checks into people applying for any type of financial services licence.
For example, Ms Gerber said ASIC may Google the accountant or licence applicant and ask them to address anything negative they find on the web.
“They’ll go through failed companies the [accountant] has been a shareholder of or investigate if they’ve been the director of a company who hasn’t filled out important forms," she said. "They may say, 'well, what kind of person are you? You can’t even fill out a form for a company – why should we give you a licence?'.
“Accountants are usually associated with lots of companies so they need to make sure they’ve cleaned up their record and that they don’t have any outstanding ASIC bills.”
Claire Wivell Plater from The Fold agrees that ASIC is becoming more rigorous about making sure that what they are being told is actually correct.
“I suspect what will happen is that ASIC will look at other people associated with the business to make sure there’s no one associated with the business who may have had difficulties or problems in the past,” said Ms Wivell Plater.
“We’ve found ASIC is being a lot more rigorous in their analysis of responsible managers than they have been in the past, and we expect that sort of rigour will increase.”
Ms Wivell Plater said she has seen indications in some instances of ASIC looking outside the information being submitted, and instead making their own enquiries.
“From a regulatory perspective, that could make it harder for people to get a licence, but on the other hand, I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing,” she said.
“ASIC are trying to make sure the limited licences are only given to the right people, people who’ve got a good track record because they see licensees as being gatekeepers. The licensees are the ones who need to be sure that the financial services being provided under the licence are being provided appropriately.”