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APESB allows asset-based fees

Accountants who also give financial advice will officially be able to continue to charge asset-based fees after the Accounting Professional & Ethical Standards Board on Friday confirmed a scaled-down version of new ethical standards.

Proposed new APES 230 standards had generated widespread criticism for going well beyond Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) requirements, include a total ban on commissions and asset-based fees for accountant advisers.

Following intense lobbying from key accounting bodies, the APESB formulated a new draft of APES 230 which was formally passed in a board meeting on Friday.

The APESB also announced it is extending the FOFA Best Interests Duty to “all clients and financial planning services”, including mortgage broking and other financial services not subject to the FOFA amendments to the Corporations Act.

Despite the moderated approach to asset-based fees, however, the APESB reiterated its view that a total fee-for-service model should be preferred.

“The board strongly recommends to professional accountants that clients be charged on a fee-for-service basis for financial planning services to minimise the opportunity for conflicts of interest,” ABESB chair Kate Spargo said in a statement.

The majority of the standard will be effective from 1 July 2014, with remuneration provisions to be effective from 1 July 2015.