Perpetual general manager of professionals Nathan Jacobsen says it is difficult for unlicensed accountants to adjust to the removal of the accountant’s exemption, given superannuation has always been a core element of tax structuring advice.
“One of the biggest hurdles to face goes to the very heart of the relationship [the accountant has] with their clients as their trusted adviser providing personal advice,” Mr Jacobsen said.
He said accountants need to be aware of the fact that some clients could consider the advice they receive to be personal.
“Even if your intention was to simply provide factual information.”
A client asking their accountant to convert their super fund into pension mode is one scenario where accountants are at high risk of stepping into the realm of financial advice.
If an accountant gives guidance on how much their client’s minimum pension payment should be, they are considered to have provided advice, Mr Jacobsen said.
If an accountant suggests that there isn’t much value in running an SMSF with a balance of $250,000, this is also classified as advice, he warned.
Other examples of where advice has occurred is where the client wants to purchase a property with the SMSF and the accountant suggests rolling over funds for the deposit from client’s current retail fund into the SMSF.
“These sorts of scenarios illustrate how easy it is to provide personal SMSF advice,” Mr Jacobsen said.
“Particularly when these are the sorts of natural conversations you’ve been having with your clients for years.”