Accountants get most generous treatment and still miss

Accountants were granted the longest-ever transition period allowed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to gain their limited licensing, and most left it to the last minute or totally missed the deadline.

That is the bottom line spelled out to a Federal Parliamentary committee as ASIC explained why a number of Brisbane accountants were still waiting for the regulator to process their applications.

ASIC commissioner, Greg Tanzer, told the committee that the accountants had been given "the longest transition period we have ever had for a regime like this — three years".

"We received 66 per cent of applications in the last four months, after a huge amount of work done between ASIC and the joint accounting bodies to get people to apply early," he said.

"We put very public notices out through the accounting bodies and publicly that we wanted people to apply by March this year."

"If they had applied by March this year we gave a guarantee that we would have finished their application assessment by the deadline and handed that out. Unfortunately a lot of practitioners did not heed that message and took until the end."

Tanzer said Government funding for the transition period ended on 30 June, so ASIC had no extra resources it could deploy but had nonetheless deployed resources dedicated to dealing with the issue.

"At this stage our expectation is that we will get through most of the backlog probably by the end of this year. However, I would still expect, given that a high number of the applications we have on hand at the moment are poor, in terms of their content, that we would still have in the low hundreds still on hand into the next year," he said.

"... it depends on what the nature of that application is."

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Why am I not surprised by ASIC's comments and concerns? For far too long some accountants have paid lip service to compliance and completely ignored it. One accountant told me compliance is only an issue if you get caught!. So there is the problem right there. May I suggest ASIC stop pussyfooting around and take action before this becomes the dog's breakfast that vested interests have caused in Financial Planning and Insurance services?

A visiting BDM once asked me if we had a stockbroker in our office. I replied no it's just the accountant talking to a client. they just don't care, and are laughing at a gutless regulator ASIC.

As a small practice we have gone through all our options to get licenced. We have found that the cost of compliance is too much for our client profile as we serve only small businesses. We do refer to other financial advisers. But have found that most registered financial advisors do not have the required knowledge or skills to understand the clients position
The just use the templates provided by trainers, licence holders and make their position safe. They have no idea how to treat each client separately and provide proper advice. I do not believe the new licencing regime will serve any purpose other than make more money to financial sales persons masquerading as financial planners

Hi Abi, I think that's probably a fair general comment. However, I'm sure if you do some more/better due diligence on the advisers you'll find some that work well with accounting firms and their clients. Best to ask if the adviser has worked in an accounting firm environment, my experience is that unless someone has been in that environment for a period then its hard to understand. That said, every accounting firm environment can be a little different as well.

Pretty harsh comments there. Sounds like you've just been reading generic computer generated Statement of Advices. It's great that you're looking to focus on your core strength but don't think you're trying hard enough Abi. The best outcome is when Accountants and other advisers work together. So keep looking. Personally, I could say most accountants I've dealt with also don't have the skills to fully understand the clients position and what is driving them. They fail to do this as the every thing is done in a standard 20 minute tax return meeting. They just look at everything from the perspective of benchmarking a clients tax position to the industry and so long as an average rate of tax is paid that is the outcome. .. but I know this is not true of all accountants and I've taken the time to work with some really great accountants who place the client at the centre of the relationship and we all work well together.

I have worked in an accountants office CPA and then a Charted Accountants office, chalk and cheese as they say, CPA, very unprofessional, screw the clients for as much as they can get versus Charted Accountant, client fist philosophy to the point of declining to take on a client, because the client wanted something dodgy, where as the CPA office just didn't give a toss as long as they made some fees. Totally unimpressed and bring on the Shadow Shopping from ASIC, can't wait to see this happen.

The best way to make these relationships work is for advisers to own the accounting practice then ethics can be kept at a very high standard. Human nature seems to be that if they can get away with anything then they will most likely try.

Interesting comments here, Abis aside as it seems he/she cant research and likes to generalise, I think we all agree to work together will be the best for the client. I cant keep abreast of all tax changes and implications and doing returns, same with the accountant if they are doing business cash flow planning properly for example we fit right in with them., Its the sitting in the corner whispering about each other that ruins it for clients. Working together is a lot better for all of us and you know what? We may even learn something from eachother!

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