Accountants risk damaging the hard-won positive consumer perceptions of their sector if they are found to be providing financial advice while being unlicensed, according to Count Financial chief executive, David Lane.
Answering a series of internal questions about the relatively slow take-up of licensing by accountants, Lane said that while research showed accountants were the most trusted subsector of the financial services industry, this could change.
"Accountants have done a terrific job in gaining that trust from their clients, However if the many accountants who currently provide self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) advice outside of the regulated financial advice environment, they will jeopardise the reputation of the entire industry," he said.
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Lane said this meant there was a need for accountants who are licensed to ensure their unlicensed colleagues understood the implications of their actions.
"For accountants who have already met their licensing requirements, now is the time to spread the word and make sure others understand the significant risks of operating without a license both to themselves and to the broader industry," he said.
"… as an industry, we need to help bring forward those who haven't made the move yet — and that means showing them what the opportunity looks like," Lane said.
"Once accountants understand how they can support their clients in more meaningful ways which in turn will enable them to drive further revenue for their business, it becomes a much easier decision."
"Since accountants have so many clients who trust them, they're ideally positioned to offer financial advice. And if they can make the shift effectively, accountants have the potential to become the premier financial advisers within the industry," he said.