The accountants’ exemption is now officially phased out and accountants providing SMSF advice need to be operating under either a limited or full AFSL.
The accounting community has been warned on various occasions, including by ASIC and industry lawyers who work closely with ASIC, that non-compliers will be not be afforded a grace period of any kind.
One industry consultant, director at Wilkinson Super, Mark Wilkinson, believes accountants should brace themselves for some “clear demonstrations” that ASIC will be taking no prisoners with accountants who have failed to implement appropriate procedures under the new regime.
“What I suspect is that ASIC will do some shadow shopping, they’ll collect some information from the tax office around establishment, they’ll talk to trustees about who is giving them the advice in certain circumstances,” Mr Wilkinson said.
“There will be some clear demonstrations that accountants who give advice without being licensed risk prosecutions – ASIC will be putting everyone else on notice,” he said.
“I think they’ve got to, to a certain extent, because it’s the only way ASIC will be able to get its message across.”
Mr Wilkinson noted the regulator’s ‘take no prisoners’ approach is consistent with the government’s public push to increase professionalism and quality in financial advice.
“I’m not convinced that the level of advice provided by a lot of financial planners is all that flash either around this area. So when you put the changes together and look forward five or six or ten years, I think the level of advice will be much better,” he said.