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ASIC to assess licensed accountants

ASIC has said it plans to conduct 'targeted surveillance' activities, while denying claims that accountants are forming a “passive resistance” against the licensing regime.

Deputy commissioner Greg Tanzer told the CPA National SMSF Conference the regulator will be visiting small groups of accountants in each state to understand how they are operating.

“We’re going to conduct targeted surveillance on some licensed accountants to assess whether they’re meeting their ongoing obligations when giving financial product advice in relation to SMSFs. We’re going to seek in particular to identify unlicensed conduct and to take appropriate action,” Mr Tanzer said at the conference yesterday.

“We have begun that program of surveillance. I won’t tell you if we’ve actually started visiting [accountants] but the planning is definitely under way.”

According to Mr Tanzer, ASIC will likely release the findings of its surveillance in a report towards the end of the financial year.

“From our perspective, the transparency of outcomes is quite important,” Mr Tanzer said.

The deputy commissioner said he does not believe there are large numbers of unlicensed accountants continuing to give advice.


“Some people, when they look at the 1,159 licences having been applied for, say to me that there are a lot of accountants out there who are continuing to give advice on SMSFs and haven’t got a limited licence or haven’t become an authorised representative or haven’t taken out a full licence themselves. In a sense [they're suggesting ]it’s like some form of passive resistance to the new regulatory regime,” he said.

“I don’t think that’s true. All I would say is that I can’t imagine that anyone who comes from a professional background would want to join the club of deliberately [being] unlicensed advisers, because that is a club that has the property spruikers, the cold-calling scammers, and the offshore investment scammers.

“That’s the club that a person would be choosing to join, not some virtuous passive resistance,” Mr Tanzer said.