‘More work to be done’ on accountants’ advice framework: SMSFA
The SMSF Association says it will continue to push for an alternative advice model for accountants despite the lack of traction on the issue in the Quality of Advice Review.
Speaking at the SMSF Association National Conference, SMSF Association head of policy and advocacy, Tracey Scotchbrook said the association has long been calling for an alternative regulatory framework for accountants to provide simple strategic advice.
With the current framework plagued by escalating licensing costs, ongoing compliance costs and unintended consequences from the FASEA reforms, the SMSF Association along with the major accounting bodies previously proposed an alternative regulatory model.
Last year, the bodies put forward a potential solution which would involve amending the definition of a tax agent service in section 90-5 of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA).
Under the proposal, qualified accountants who operate under a certificate of public practice and are a registered tax agent would be able to provide simple strategic superannuation advice where they met certain criteria including having an accreditation as an SMSF specialist advisor.
Ms Scotchbrook said the association was hopeful it would be able to get a solution from the Quality of Advice Review.
“We worked with several of the accounting bodies to create a workable solution and we worked very closely with Michelle Levy and the Treasury secretariat. Members on the ground also provided us with case studies to illustrate the issues around this,” she said.
“The reality is though that we got nothing from the quality of advice review.
Ms Scotchbrook said she was sympathetic to Ms Levy given the weight of expectation from industry across the board about coming up with solutions to address all the pain points.
“[Given], the breadth of the terms of reference, it was never going to be possible to get answers on everything.”
Despite the lack of progress from the Quality of Advice Review process, Ms Scotchbrook said the association would continue its advocacy work in this area.
“This isn’t dead though, there’s more work to be done and we’re pushing really hard,” she said. She also stressed that the association is not calling for the return of the accountants’ exemption.
“However, we’ve got some serious issues that we need to ventilate and finally get some solutions for because it just makes for a better working eco-system and a better solution for clients.”
“We have a carve out for the large super funds to be able to provide simple advice, which is how it’s been positioned in the Quality of Advice Review, which is an important recommendation, but we need to have the same considerations on the accountant side.
“We look forward to the opportunity to consult on the Quality of Advice Review with the government but we won’t be waiting for that, we’ll be working behind the scenes.”
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 also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.