An advice boutique has warned that most accountants are “not panicking enough” about the impending changes to the AFSL regime, claiming they have underestimated the importance of licensing decisions.
Reflecting on the FOFA regulation stipulating accountants will no longer be exempt from licensing rules when providing SMSF advice from 1 July 2016, self-licensed advice firm William Buck – which also has an accounting arm – says accountants need to “act now” to obtain a licence.William Buck said that while Treasury estimates up to 10,000 accountants will apply for a limited licence before the exemption expires, only 65 have done so to date.Fausto Pastro, a director of the firm, said accountants need to start having a conversation about their licensing options now or risk losing the ability to provide SMSF advice altogether. “Over half a million Australians hold a SMSF and much of the advice they are currently obtaining is from their accountants,” Mr Pastro said.“If accountants choose not to obtain the licence they will only be able to offer clients tax and compliance advice.“In my experience clients are seeking total control of their financial position and are expecting direction across all facets of their finances. Stand-alone financial planning and accounting models offer limited advice,” he added.Mr Pastro told ifa sister publication AccountantsDaily that William Buck offers no AFSL consulting services nor an authorised representative model, and has entered the licensing conversation out of concern for the industry as a whole.
“I’m concerned that other accountants, particularly the smaller firms, aren’t panicking enough about this area and I’m concerned by what’s going to happen to their ability to continue providing advice to their clients.“Their ability to offer well rounded financial advice will be compromised, and with it, their potential to best service their clients,” Mr Pastro said.William Buck’s concerns echo those of both CPA Australia and the IPA who have both recently come out urging their members to act now on this issue or risk missing the deadline.The comments come as CoreData releases a report that found financial planners are “more bullish” than accountants when it comes to anticipated SMSF revenue growth.
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