Unlicensed accountants risk ruining positive image

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.

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.

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Perhaps the CPA should act on this area. The high standards required under the code of conduct mean that any accountant providing unlicenced advice does not meet the code. Hence they should not be able to continue to be a CPA.

Nothing for the accountants to worry about here. If it ever does blow up for them, ASIC will use the term "financial adviser" in the press release, even though they are unlicensed. It will then be followed up by David Whitely jumping on his soapbox screaming about how we get paid, and probably that banks are too profitable.

You heard it here first!

its funny. I just read an soa from an adviser attached to an accounting practice. His SOA was totally investment focused i.e. how to get the clients current fum under management, no strategy. The client wanted super strategy advice as well. In the SOA though the planner referred to 'your accountant has advised you will be making x,y,z contributions non concessionals and turning on a pension etc' - i.e. the accountant is not licensed to do so, but his planner has just incriminated him in the SOA!! Hilarious I thought.

When an Accountant eventually gets caught providing unlicensed advice it will be handled just like property spruikers when they get caught recommending property/SMSFs for clients etc...

"ASIC has banned the person/entity from holding a financial services license"....

Accountant continues to provide unlicensed advice as they were before.

Perhaps it more of an indication of what's really has been happening in the sector for decades. i.e accountants have been ignoring the laws (either knowingly or unknowingly) and will continue to do so.

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