When being a chartered accountant is not enough

10 January 2019

Being a chartered accountant for many years and not having breached the rules is not sufficient reason to be granted a limited Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) to give advice around self-managed superannuation funds, according to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) determination.

In issuing the determination, the AAT has upheld an Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) decision to deny the granting of a limited to AFSL to an accountant and authorised representative, Michael Watson, who was represented by his father, Professor John Watson, who the AAT was told had lectured in accounting in Western Australia for more than 40 years.

In making representations on behalf of his son, Professor Watson was saying that in terms of ensuring compliance and ongoing record-keeping obligations, Watson had been “a tax agent for years, and chartered accountant for years”.

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ASIC issued a statement this week confirming the AAT had affirmed ASIC’s decision to refuse Watson an AFSL, noting that the Tribunal had found that Watson had not provided all the relevant information that ASIC required to appropriately assess and grant a license.

In doing so, the ASIC statement claimed the AAT decision was “a reminder to industry that applicants need to provide ASIC with all relevant information that ASIC’s requests to demonstrate that they are able to meet all AFS licence requirements if a licence is to be granted”.

Commenting on the determination, ASIC senior executive, Warren Day said the regulator welcomed the AAT’s decision which reinforced that ASIC was “not simply a rubber stamp”.

We need applicants to provide all relevant supporting information, rather than just insisting what they have chosen to provide is adequate,' said Day.

“The applicant must be able to demonstrate that educational courses they seek to rely on, cover the appropriate technical content needed to operate the licence,” concluded Day.

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