Hayes Knight director Greg Hayes believes some accountants are delaying their AFSL authorisation because they are waiting for the ‘noise’ to die down and seeing how the regime pans out in the next couple of months before setting their plans in stone.
“There’s so much feedback, so much commentary, so much marketing. Many accountants have felt they need to get past June 30 and then get a better understanding of the differences on offer and what the best path for them is,” Mr Hayes told SMSF Adviser.
As the new licensing regime progresses, finer and potentially problematic details are beginning to emerge that accountants should take note of.
“You might have someone in your firm licensed or authorised, then a whole bunch not licensed or authorised – you’ve got to consider how the firm will then manage things like basic client inquiries. Do all staff know where the dividing line is and what the rules are?” Mr Hayes said.
“Also consider your website, have you met all of your new disclosure obligations? You might need to review your marketing material online and see if there’s any statement you are making that would now, technically, be regulated advice, and make sure you have the appropriate disclosures on them,” he added.
Mr Hayes also noted that details, right down to what letterhead is used, are essential from a compliance perspective.
“If you are an accounting firm, you’ll hold a PI policy in your own right as the accountant. If you’re licensed, you’ll also be covered by the PI policy of your dealer group, for example. In terms of client engagement, if your activities are covered under the dealer group’s authorisation, make sure it’s clearly coming from the right arm of the business.
“You don’t want to be sending the client a statement of advice, or any advice piece, on your accounting letterhead. If you start crossing over into financial advice areas under your accounting label and that accounting label is not the licensed entity, you’re opening it up to risk.”