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CA ANZ, CPA defend accountants’ exemption decision

Jotham Lian
20 September 2019 — 2 minute read

A straightforward return of the accountants’ exemption would simply be “putting a band-aid over a very deep wound”, say CA ANZ and CPA Australia.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and CPA Australia have come out in defence of their decision to not support a return of the accountants’ exemption, one of the options floated by Treasury in its review of the Tax Practitioners Board.

Both accounting bodies have stood by their decision, noting that the “extreme limitations” of the accountants’ exemption meant that it was “no longer relevant in this current, increasingly complex financial advice environment”.

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The accountants’ exemption, which was repealed in 2016 as part of the Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) reforms, had only permitted accountants who were members of the three accounting professional bodies to help with establishing and winding up an SMSF.

“There is widespread agreement among members that the current regulatory and licensing regime for strategic advice needs work,” said Simon Grant, CA ANZ group executive, advocacy and international.

“So rather than putting a band-aid over a very deep wound, we need to look at the issue holistically and find a solution for strategic advice that is fit for purpose, permanent and serves Australian mums and dads.”

The joint decision by CA ANZ and CPA Australia to not back the option was first revealed by Accountants Daily, alongside news that the Institute of Public Accountants and the Tax Institute were open to exploring a return of the accountants’ exemption.

Accounting software boss Ron Lesh of BGL, who has been a key figure in lobbying for a return of the accountants’ exemption, was critical of both CA ANZ and CPA’s decision, suggesting that they had failed to measure members’ sentiments.

Addressing FoFA failures

CPA’s Paul Drum believes the current debate misses the real issue of the failure of the FoFA reforms, which was to provide affordable and accessible financial advice to Australian consumers.

“The objective of the Future of Financial Advice reforms was to ensure advice is in the best interests of clients and advice should not be put out of reach of those who would benefit from it, and this has arguably not been achieved,” Mr Drum said.

“CA ANZ and CPA Australia are calling for a wholesale review of the current financial advice frameworks to address regulatory complexity.”

The external affairs general manager added: “This complexity has been caused by years of layered regulatory reforms, without appropriate consideration to ensure these reforms are meeting their policy intent. 

“The wholesale review must identify policy changes needed to ensure that consumers can access quality, affordable advice from their choice of trusted adviser.”

Accountants Daily understands both CA ANZ and CPA Australia will now undertake extensive consultation with their membership base, including public practice member surveys to nationwide workshops, in a bid to gather feedback to work towards a solution.

CA ANZ, CPA defend accountants’ exemption decision
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