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Accountant-focused licensing providers see adviser spike

Despite some of the fears that FASEA will cause an exodus from the advice profession, particularly among accountants, many of the accountant-focused licensing providers have actually seen a significant increase in adviser numbers.

Business Miranda Brownlee 13 February 2019
— 2 minute read

With the new standards set by the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority gradually being rolled out for financial advisers, there has been a lot of discussion in the industry around whether it will see a large number of advice professionals leave the industry, particularly accountants.

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Despite some concerns about the FASEA standards, analysis of the ASIC Adviser Register data set reveals that many of the accountant-focused licensing providers have actually experienced a jump in the number of advisers becoming authorised under their licence.

Merit Wealth, an accountant-focused licence owned by Easton Investments, saw a spike in the number of advisers joining last year, with 219 financial advisers becoming authorised representatives in 2018.

This was more than triple the number of advisers added to the licence in 2017. There is now a total of 455 advisers licensed under Merit Wealth, following the addition of a further four advisers in January this year.

The other licence owned by Easton Investments, GPS Wealth, has also seen a jump in the number of advisers joining as authorised representatives, with the licence bringing on 122 advisers last year. This was an increase from the 82 advisers added to the licence in 2017.

The total number of advisers now authorised by GPS Wealth has now climbed to 371.

The SMSF Advisers Network, run by the National Tax and Accountants’ Association, likewise has seen a spike in the number of advisers becoming authorised under its AFSL. In 2018, a total of 412 advisers joined its licence, doubling the number of advisers that joined in 2017.

NTAA still holds the lion’s share of advisers when it comes to accountant- or SMSF-focused licensing providers, with a total of 1,087 professionals under its licence.

Capstone also saw a small jump in the number of authorised representatives under its licence, with around 68 advisers becoming authorised in 2018, an increase from the 26 advisers that joined in 2017. Capstone now has around 204 advisers under its licence.

Count Financial also saw a small rise in the number of advisers joining as authorised representatives, with 54 joining the licence in 2018, up from 33 in 2017. Count Financial now has 401 advisers.

Last year, Hayes Knight director Greg Hayes said that accountants would need to be authorised by a licence by the beginning of this year if they wanted to be recognised as an existing provider under the FASEA standards.

Mr Hayes said that this prompted many accountants to make a final decision about licensing so that they could take advantage of the transitional arrangements.

“I think what we’ll see over the coming months is a lot of those firms making a decision and deciding whether they’re in or out. If they’re going to be in, then they’ll need to prepare for this new environment that we’re entering into,” he said last year.

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Accountant-focused licensing providers see adviser spike
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