ATO, ASIC ramp up shadow shopping process

One prominent mid-tier firm has seen evidence in the market that the ATO and ASIC are now taking a real-time approach to shadow shopping, which significantly enhances their surveillance capabilities and reaction times.

BDO’s national leader for superannuation, Shirley Schaefer, has seen evidence of the ATO and ASIC sharing data as transactions occur, upping the ability to detect and capture non-compliance.

Specifically, and as previously reported, the regulators are monitoring accountants providing what is now considered unlicensed advice.

BDO told SMSF Adviser it witnessed a situation in which an accounting firm helped a client set up an SMSF. Twenty-four hours after registering the fund with the ATO, the accountants received a phone call from ASIC requesting copies of the fact find and statement of advice that are required if advising a client to establish an SMSF.

While this episode was an ‘execution only’ piece of work for the client, it is a clear example of the real-time approach the regulators are taking.

BDO reminded accounting firms they should ensure that if they do ‘execution only’ set-ups of SMSFs that they have it clearly documented, with the client outlining the scope of work undertaken.

“Accountants need to be really careful when talking to clients about super and SMSFs. For example, telling clients what the contribution limits are is okay, but unless the accountant is licensed, you cannot tell clients that they ‘should’ make a contribution,” Ms Schaeffer said.

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