SOA hold-ups still plaguing licensed accountants
Statements of advice that are poorly tailored to accountants or extremely delayed continue to be a significant issue for licensed accountants, according to an advice group.
Merit Wealth accountants services director David Moss said some of the dealer groups providing licensing to accountants don’t have a thorough understanding of the services provided by accountants and don’t have the systems in place to deal with the surge in SOA document requests from SMSF accountants at certain points in the year.
“Our group has processed 1,200 SOAs over the past 12 months and 700 to 800 of those were during the months of May and June only. So there was suddenly a massive surge of accountants seeking to get their SOAs out. Unless you’ve got the systems to process them quickly and efficiently, you’re going to have a big problem,” Mr Moss explained.
“If you’ve gone from zero to 700 SOAs from accountants in a matter of months you’ve either got the processes to deal with that or not and from what I’ve heard most licensing providers don’t. If you’re reviewing all SOAs and you have 700 come in and you don’t have a dedicated team or have prepared for that then you’re going to have a large back-log.”
The other issue, Mr Moss, is that the process of producing an SOA is often not tailored towards the needs of accounting firms.
“Accountants look at the process and they don't understand it, because the process was created for financial planners and it's worded in the way in which financial planners need it,” he said.
Other dealer groups simply leave accountants to figure out the SOA process on their own, he said, and while this may alleviate issues with delayed documents, it can be more problematic given that many accountants don’t have a thorough understanding of how to produce and SOA correctly.
“As a result you've got statements of advice being prepared by people that have never done one before, with no supervision and no oversight, which creates a problem in itself,” he said.
“So this is a massive issue for accountants under a licence. They're saying well I thought I did the right thing by getting licensed, but I can't ever get these documents prepared, or I don't know how to prepare these documents.”
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates. Miranda has also directed SMSF Adviser's print publication for several years.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.