The new standards, to be set by the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA), will apply to those licensed to provide financial advice from 2024.
Those with a bachelor’s degree in a related field - accounting, financial planning or advice, business, commerce, law or economics - will need to complete a bridging course of three study units to meet these standards.
The new guidance does not distinguish between those operating under a limited licence and a full AFSL, meaning accountants providing basic SMSF advice will be - as it stands - expected to do the same training as those providing holistic advice.
“SMSF professionals are not distinguished in any way,” Kath Bowler, chief executive of Licensing for Accountants, explained to SMSF Adviser.
“SMSF professionals tend to come from either an accounting or a financial planning background and it is that background that seems to be taken into account, rather than SMSF qualifications or designations they may hold. If they are from an accounting background, they are likely to need to do three additional units of study,” she said.
The scope of advice given under a limited versus full AFSL is vastly different, and as such, principal at Ariel & Associates Jeremy Danon believes it’s “definitely not reasonable” to group the education requirements of all licensed advisers together.
“I believe that it is important to distinguish between those ‘financial advisers’ operating under a limited AFS licence,” Mr Danon told SMSF Adviser.
“Recommending and organising the creation of an SMSF is part of an accountant’s duties and responsibilities in regard to the financial health and wellbeing of a client. It is the accountant who recommends whether a client’s business or activities would operate best under a trust, SMSF, company or sole trader structure,” he said.
“For something that was traditionally their domain, accountants are being lumped with all other financial planners with no exemption or grandfathering relief,” he added.