Accountants in the dark over licensing process

Accountants remain confused about the process involved in the uptake of the limited licensing regime but they need to proceed quickly if they want to advise on self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF), the SMSF Association (formerly SPAA) warned.

The association's CEO, Andrea Slattery, said accountants remain nonplussed about the transition because they are unfamiliar with the Australian financial services licensing (AFSL) world.

But she urged accountants to start the process right now, and said there is no time left for accountants to not at least start considering it.

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"According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's statistics a month ago, there were less than 60 people that had limited licensing arrangements organised," Slattery said.

She said there was an initial expectation that 10,000 accountants would sign up for this option over the three-year period but this expectation is far from being met.

"The concern of the SMSF Association is that there will be a lack of accountants to give specialist advice if this situation does not change.

"If people don't start on their journey very soon they're going to have a problem with who can actually provide advice on various aspects in 2016 under a limited licensing regime," Slattery said.

The association's chairman Peter Crump said the confusion arose because accounting groups wanted to be led to the solution, whereas what has materialised is a self-led process.

He also stressed accountants have to get on with investigating the options, and deciding whether they want to commit to strategic advice or just provide financial statement, tax and audit services.

ASIC data from July 2014 showed the regulator had received 62 applications for a limited AFSL with only 27 applications approved.

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