Count Financial reveals cost impact of licensing for firms

Recent estimates provided by Count Financial show that for many SMSF firms, compliance with the limited licence regime has cost them tens of thousands of dollars and substantial hours away from their businesses.

Speaking at a panel session at the SMSF Association national conference, Count Financial head of practice recruitment Euan Sneyd said while the compliance process with the limited licensing regime has often been touted as a straightforward process, for most accounting firms, the entire process has taken them an average of 292 days.

“In our experience, it [took] 292 days for the average accounting firm. From the time that they decided to do something about licensing to exploring it to doing RG 146, going and doing some sort of orientation so that they could actually start to produce advice for their clients, just to get to the starting point [it was] 292 days,” Mr Sneyd said.

He said some firms time-costed the amount of time it took to complete their RG 146.

“[Some people] might say it’s eight days, four modules – it’s not that hard – well, some people really struggled. It took some accountants almost two years to get through the program. They’re running a business that’s their main process.

“For some businesses, it was $100,000 worth of time that they hadn’t spent in the business, trying to comply with a regulatory change, and that’s just to get started.”

After these accountants completed the requirements to provide advice under the limited licensing regime, they then had to spend time understanding new concepts such as financial services guides, the Financial Ombudsmen Service and statements of advice.

“You have this sort of year and a half J-curve to get comfortable with the concepts of advice,” Mr Sneyd said.

“While it seems like it’s an easy thing to comply with, it was really time-consuming and it’s a different skill set, they are different conversations, it’s a whole new world of jargon for accountants who haven’t been previously licensed.”

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