The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has sent a clear message to financial planners that if they want “key intermediary” status alongside other tax professionals they will need to be prepared to call out bad behaviour on the part of their peers and unscrupulous others.
ATO assistant commissioner, Superannuation, Kasey Macfarlane used an address to a planning conference to point to the degree to which financial advisers wanted greater recognition from the ATO as key intermediaries in the tax and superannuation system but made clear this came with conditions.
“We know that financial advisers desire greater recognition from the ATO as a key intermediary in the tax and super systems, as well as better access to ATO held data and information about your clients so that you can provide them with the best possible level of service of advice. And we recognise that you are seeking more tailored guidance and access to ATO subject matter experts,” she said.
Macfarlane said the ATO knew there was further work to be done in the area and was actively exploring and consulting with the financial advice profession about how things could be improved.
“However, like any positive working relationship, it is not unreasonable to expect that there be reciprocal obligations and expectations. The question that we would expect financial advisers to ask themselves in return is what can we do to support the ATO in its role in the superannuation system?” she said.
“The ATO is very much aware that the overwhelming majority of financial advisers and professionals act with the highest level of integrity and professionalism and are dedicated and committed to making a real difference to their clients through supporting them with the very important task of achieving their financial goals.
“However, it only takes a very small number of unscrupulous operators to damage the credibility of the whole profession and when these inappropriate and unprofessional behaviours permeate into the superannuation sector then that ripples through to also dent the trust and confidence in the superannuation system and indeed self managed superannuation funds (SMSFs).”
“Each of our respective roles in the SMSF sector comes from different perspectives but undoubtedly a common objective for us all is that we want SMSFs to continue to thrive and we want trust and confidence in the integrity of the SMSF brand to remain strong,” Macfarlane said. “Therefore, we would ask that in supporting us in this goal, that the financial advice sector stand with us in calling out and addressing inappropriate behaviours; whether that be the provision of inappropriate advice, the promotion of aggressive planning schemes, or even more serious matters involving the theft of people’s hard-earned superannuation monies through fraud.”