Accountant licensing changes dents profits

Underestimating the time and resources required to invest in further study for accountants in light of the changes to self-managed superannuation (SMSF) licensing requirements resulted in many firms experiencing reduced profit and productivity, according to Count Financial.

Chief executive officer, David Lane, wrote in a blog that many firms failed to accurately account into their costings team members completing further studies to qualify to provide SMSF advice under the new accountants' exemption rules that came into effect in July 2016.

According to Lane, accountants who still needed to complete RG146 requirements needed to consider three things: understand how many hours a week they would need to study over what period of time, consult with the team how many business hours they would need to study and how much they could do in their own time, and negotiate who would step in to help with the workload.

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"While the education challenge may seem like a burden on the business, it's important to remember that, despite upfront losses, it will be an investment that pays off down the track," Lane said, adding accountants should view this as ongoing professional development.

Accountants must also realise the value of providing a comprehensive financial advice offering and move into this territory once they iron out their compliance issues, adding firms that had successfully done this were capitalising on opportunities from both a client relationship perspective and a growth perspective.

"It's also important to remember that the regulatory changes are about more than just compliance: they're designed to raise standards of financial advice across the industry as a whole," Lane said.

While the process could be difficult, especially for smaller firms with limited in-house capacity, it was very important for them to network with industry peers who had already transitioned successfully, Lane said.




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