ASIC on heels of accountants

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is visiting accounting firms to ensure they are complying with the new licensing regime to advise on self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF) rather than continuing to advise without adhering to licensing requirements, it warned.

Deputy chairman, Peter Kell told a panel discussion at the 2017 SMSF Association conference in Melbourne on Thursday that while ASIC wanted to examine how accountants were adapting to new licensing requirements following the scrapping of the accountants exemption, it also wanted to "check to see whether anyone is still thinking that they can carry on like they were before and not comply with the new regime".

While Kell acknowledged he did not have figures to ascertain this occurrence, he said he had anecdotal evidence of such behaviour.

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"We have that anecdotally that there are some that are thinking oh well yeah sure the deadline has passed; I'm just going to keep on doing what I've always done. We found that in other licensing regimes before," Kell said.

Kell called on the industry to report to ASIC if it found players practising outside compliance parameters.

"We would encourage people here... if you see that sort of behaviour let us know because for the purposes of everyone being on a level playing field it's only fair that you either move to the new regime or you modify your business. That's the choice," he said.

According to latest ASIC figures, it received 40 per cent of the applications for a limited license in the past three to four weeks, which it said it was attempting to complete by the end of March.

ASIC had received 1,181 applications while 523 had been granted a license and 320 of those who had lodged their applications were having their applications reviewed, with some retuned due to deficiencies or incomplete elements.

"That's where we think the associations have a role to play in informing their members about what's to be required," Kell said.

Two applications had been refused while 42 applicants received a letter of offer. Just under 300 applications were under assessment.

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