No breathing room for accountants, says ASIC

No breathing room for accountants, says ASIC

The regulator has re-affirmed its stance that there will be no extension to the kick-off date for the new SMSF licensing regime for accountants.

"There are no proposals to extend the 30 June cut-off date for the transitional arrangements to apply for a limited AFS licence," ASIC senior executive leader, financial advisers, Louise Macauley said in an email.

She further said she was "unaware" of any proposals for an "unconditional exemption" based on experience or qualifications.

This statement comes after the AIOFP raised concerns with ASIC that the relatively low rate of applications for a limited licence may be due to an expected hope for leniency.

"There is a general perception in some sections of the marketplace that accountants will get an extension to the deadline beyond 1 July 2016, and some will get an unconditional exemption due to their experience and/or qualifications," AIOFP executive director Peter Johnston said.

"This may just explain the very low enquiry ASIC have had to licensing."

As at 22 February, ASIC said it had received 323 applications for a limited licence, with 95 applications being approved.

The number of applications received since 28 January this year has increased by 47, and the number of applications it has approved has increased by seven.

Last month, the Institute of Public Accountants executive general manager – advice and technical Vicki Stylianou told ifa's sister publication SMSF Adviser that while ASIC can traditionally be "a little lighter" in terms of enforcement at the beginning of a new regime, accountants should not be relying on any form of grace period once the accountants' exemption expires on 30 June.

She noted there has been an extensive transitional period for accountants to get their licensing arrangements sorted, with FOFA reforms effectively being in the works for six years.

"If you get any kind of leniency then you're lucky, but definitely do not rely on it and be as prepared as you must be come 1 July," Ms Stylianou said.

"It is really going to be crunch time come 1 July."

No breathing room for accountants, says ASIC
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