Members of both CPA Australia and the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) could mount a challenge if those organisations were to adopt the Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board APES 230 ruling dealing with financial planning services.
The IPA has signaled it will not be promulgating APES 230 and will be delivering its own standard, while both CPA Australia and the ICAA are considering their options with respect to APES 230.
However it has been pointed out to Money Management that the constitutions and by-laws of at least two of the accounting organisations are such that, taken together with the Corporations Act, members could mount a challenge based on "oppressive, prejudicial or discriminatory" actions.
The capacity for members to act in such a way has been laid out in a submission to the APESB on behalf of Bongiorno Group, the Small Medium Sized Accountant Financial Advisers group and Lonsdale Financial group.
The submission states "the issue of commercial detriment is central to the issue of whether a requirement is oppressive, unfairly prejudicial or unfairly discriminatory against a member or members".
It went on to say that if CPA Australia or the IPA moved to promulgate APES 230 they would be exposing themselves to a serious challenge from their members.
It has also become clear that the APESB board was well aware of the depth of feeling among Australian accountants against much of its APES 230 proposal dealing with financial planning services, but decided to proceed with only minimal amendments.
That has become obvious from the results of two key surveys presented to the APESB board dealing with the APES 230 issue, both of which revealed overwhelming unhappiness with the direction in which the board was heading.
A survey of members by Count Financial revealed that more than 97 per cent were opposed to the introduction of APES 230 in its current form, with a similar number indicating they believed it would lead to an increase in the cost of providing advice to clients.
A survey conducted by the SMSF Professionals Association of Australia (SPAA) revealed more than half of respondents (55 per cent) believed the implementation of APES 230 would require them to restructure their businesses.