Unlicensed accountants likened to property spruikers

Accountants who continue to provide self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) advice in the absence of being appropriately licensed are placing themselves in the same category as property spruikers and will be treated accordingly, according to Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) commissioner, Greg Tanzer.

Tanzer told Money Management's Fintech Platforms and Wraps Conference that the regulator was conscious that the number of accountants who had sought to become licensed had fallen short of ASIC's expectations, notwithstanding the spike which had occurred just ahead of the 1 July, 2016 deadline.

He also noted the number of licensing applications which had so far failed to gain ASIC approval and said that the regulator would be continuing to closely monitor the situation.

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In doing so, Tanzer said that there may be some in the accounting community who believed they were above the licensing requirements but urged them to reconsider such notions.

"By continuing to give advice around SMSFs without being licensed they are placing themselves in the same category as property spruikers and others who have given advice without being appropriately licensed," he said.

Elsewhere in his address to the conference, Tanzer pointed to ASIC's current review of the regulatory environment around separately managed accounts and the fact that the relevant class orders would reach their sunset in October.

He referred to some liberal interpretations MDA promoters had given to no action letters issued by ASIC in 2004 and indicated the regulator would be addressing the issue when new arrangements were announced in October.

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We have seen how the ban on property spruikers work- banned when they were unauthorised to do it anyway (i.e. provide financial advice) and keep spruiking property without any financial penalty. Where is the deterrent? Unless banning will affect TASA licensing of the accountant I guess they will continuing running the risk of getting caught?

This is pitiful. Accountants with 20-30 experience in giving sound financial advice to 1,000's of Australians are being made out to be criminals as a result of inane legislation from hopeless governments and regulators. Accountants are not property sprukers. They are professionals doing the right thing in the vast majority of cases for their clients

Unfair characterisations - not a pleasant feeling. Perhaps you might receive more sympathy if so many Accountants weren't so willing to denigrate experienced financial advisers and other financial professionals (also 'doing the right thing').

Also, your disdain for regulators and the laws that are designed to protect consumers from ill-informed or duplicitous Accountants seems at odds with your claim that you are all 'professional' when this clearly is not the case. I agree, most Accountants (like Financial Advisers) are solid citizens, but there continues to be isolated issues in both areas, and if left unchecked reputations and public confidence will continue to erode, perhaps unfairly.

So instead of resisting change, Accountants should just quickly embrace the reforms, update their knowledge, and begin to win back lost ground - it's good for business and reassuring to clients. Other than a little inconvenience I just don't see the downside.

We have seen how ASIC handle property Spruikers banned for something they were unauthorised to do anyway being unlicensed to do (i.e. provide financial advice) but presumably can keep spruiking property without any financial penalty. Where is the deterrent? Without ASIC banning affecting Accountants licensing with TASA I guess they will run the risk of getting caught giving unlicensed advice.

@ George,
Seriously ? Do you really think that every accountant who recommends a SMSF fund appropriate or not does so because they think they know every thing.
Do you think accountants tell client in retail super funds with life/TPD benefits attached ever give consideration when setting up a SMSF. Do you think w2hen accountants set up a SMSF fund their clients have the capacity to act and understand their responsibilities as Trustees. ? Or is it just a convenient way for accountants to generate on-going tax return and audit fees.
Give us all break,.... if you think like that.

how do accountants when licensed and recommend an SMSF have to disclose the conflict that will pick up the ongoing admin work? What do their SOA's say to show they considered alternatives and why the SMSF puts the client in a better position? That will be the interesting test.

A) Spot on Steve, property spruikers have had it so easy even after getting 'prosecuted'.

B) George, nobody is stopping Accountant's from giving financial advice... They are just now required to follow the law and legislation that everyone else does. Common sense really as many Accountant's did do the wrong thing (starting SMSFs with very low balances etc).

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