Regulators up ante on shadow shopping exercises

The ATO and ASIC are boosting their surveillance efforts in the hunt for unlicensed SMSF advisers, according to a mid-tier accounting and audit firm.

BDO’s national leader for superannuation Shirley Schaefer has seen evidence of the ATO and ASIC sharing data as transactions occur, enhancing the ability to detect and capture non-compliance with licensing laws.

Ms Schaefer told ifa sister title SMSF Adviser it witnessed a situation in which an accounting firm helped a client set up an SMSF.

Twenty-four hours after registering the fund with the ATO, the accountants received a phone call from ASIC requesting copies of the fact find and statement of advice that is required if advising a client to establish an SMSF.

While this example was an ‘execution only’ piece of work for the client, it is a clear example of the real-time approach the regulators are taking.

BDO reminded accounting firms they should ensure that if they do ‘execution only’ set-ups of SMSFs that they have it clearly documented, with the client outlining the scope of work undertaken.

“Accountants need to be really careful when talking to clients about super and SMSFs. For example, telling clients what the contribution limits are is okay, but unless the accountant is licensed, you cannot tell clients that they ‘should’ make a contribution,” Ms Schaefer said.

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