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Key aspects of MBR worth saving: SMSFA

peter burgess smsf sa ey7wrw
By Keith Ford
08 September 2023 — 2 minute read

On the back of the government scrapping the MBR program, the SMSFA says there are aspects worth salvaging.

Last week, the government announced it would stop the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program following independent review findings that the program “could not deliver value for money, with massive budget and timeline blowouts”.

“The independent review found the MBR program was way off course and could now cost up to $2.8 billion. This is more than five times the original $480.5 million estimate announced by the Morrison government,” Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones said in a statement.

“The review, commissioned by the Albanese government and led by Mr Damon Rees PSM, found the expected economic benefits of the program do not justify the revised costs. It also found that the program would not be able to be delivered in full until 2029 – a delay of five years.”

In response, the SMSFA has urged the government not to lose sight of key aspects of the MBR program that would have delivered “improved administrative efficiencies and enhanced data security”.

The SMSFA said there were parts of the MBR program that would streamline the way company details are registered, viewed, and maintained to reduce duplication of information and unlock administrative efficiencies.

SMSF Association chief executive Peter Burgess said: “With around 400,000 SMSFs with a corporate trustee, it was envisaged the consolidation of the Director ID and ASIC’s core business register would deliver better data linking, improved security and ultimately an uplift in data integrity for the SMSF sector.

“For example, there have been instances in the past where ASIC has de-registered the corporate trustee of an SMSF because changes to the trustee’s contact details have not been updated across all company registers and ASIC has been unable to notify directors of overdue annual review fees.

“Reinstating the company in these situations is not a straightforward task, and it was hoped with better data linking, scenarios like this, could be avoided.”

He added that reinstating the company in these situations is not a straightforward task and that better data linking could avoid these scenarios.

“There was lots of promise in the MBR program which we hope will not be lost and instead will be taken up in future projects in line with the government’s budget, timeline and resources,” Mr Burgess said.

He also said that limitations with accessing client data require immediate attention.

“With the government presumably re-calibrating its digital and IT program of work, we are calling on the government to review access to client data via the ATO’s portals,” Mr Burgess said.

“We see this as an opportunity for the government to address data access limitations which currently prevent licensed financial advisers and administrators from accessing vital client data.”

Currently, he said, only registered tax agents can access TSB and TBC information for a client from the ATO portal, despite many tax agents not being licensed to provide personal financial advice.

“In contrast, a financial adviser who is licensed to provide personal financial advice must rely on their clients accessing this data via MyGov and then sharing this information with them,” Mr Burgess said.

“This has a significant impact on the timeliness and efficiency of advice and erodes the trust established between client and adviser.”

In his statement, Mr Jones said that the government remained committed to “making it easy for businesses to register their details and will prioritise the stabilisation of existing registers”.

“The independent review found that additional targeted investments could deliver improvements to the current registries. The government will consider options to uplift registries following further analysis,” he said.

“The overarching conclusion of the review is: bigger is not better. The temptation to load programs up with greater scope than necessary reduces the likelihood of success. The Albanese government will look to apply the lessons from the MBR review to other digital and IT projects, including future projects.”

Key aspects of MBR worth saving: SMSFA
peter burgess smsf sa ey7wrw
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