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‘Expect carnage’: New reporting requirements could cause mass exodus of AFSL licensees

Nicholas Benbow
By Tony Zhang
06 May 2021 — 1 minute read

AFSL licensees will be caught in the crossfire of new financial reporting requirements for companies that previously were not reporting entities, creating a potential mass exodus, according to an accounting firm.

From 1 July 2021, AASB 2020-2 Amendments to Australian Accounting Standards will come into effect, which will end the usage of Special Purpose Financial Reports by entities that report to ASIC, principally large proprietary companies, unlisted public companies, and foreign-controlled subsidiaries, according to William Buck. These entities are currently and mostly self-designated as non-reporting entities under Australian Accounting Standards.

Nicholas Benbow, director, audit and assurance at William Buck, said the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) also makes it clear that AFSL licensees fall within the scope of AASB 2020-2. This is notwithstanding that under s.989B of the Corporations Act their annual financial reporting requirements to ASIC consist only of an audited balance sheet and profit and loss statement.

However, Mr Benbow said ASIC is yet to formally address the impact of AASB 2020-2 on AFSL licensees which is present in Form 71, which auditors attach to an AFSL licensee’s disclosures under s.989B that refers to the current status quo.

“As a consequence, the majority of Australia’s 6,248 AFSL licensees will face elevated reporting and auditing requirements under a general purpose framework, with disclosure obligations not too dissimilar from that of ASX-listed entities,” Mr Benbow said. 

“Such an elevation will place significant cost and compliance pressures on those AFSL licensees.”

Mr Benbow stated this is likely to create “carnage” in the financial services industry, as AFSL licensee holders, looking to manage costs of compliance, en masse retire their own licence and seek a Corporate Authorised Representative (CAR) arrangement in order to continue to ply their trade.

“In a couple of years, and without further clarification from ASIC on this matter, expect a markedly different AFSL compliance industry, dominated by much larger, corporatised ‘super-AFSL’ licensees, with extensive CAR networks,” Mr Benbow stated.

“This will mean a corporatising of the responsibility for policing AFSL compliance effectively farmed out to these ‘super-AFSLs’, rather than having a direct relationship between licensee and ASIC.

“Also expect the rise of a new job description — the ‘CAR-Broker’ — responsible for connecting these former AFSL licensees with a ‘super-AFSL’.”

‘Expect carnage’: New reporting requirements could cause mass exodus of AFSL licensees
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Tony Zhang

Tony Zhang

Tony Zhang is a journalist at Accountants Daily, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the accounting sector.

Since joining the Momentum Media team in 2020, Tony has written for a range of its publications including Lawyers Weekly, Adviser Innovation, ifa and SMSF Adviser. He has been full-time on Accountants Daily since September 2021.

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