In its submission to the Government’s Financial Services Inquiry (FSI), SPAA called for a separate licencing category for independent advisors that have achieved higher competencies or specialisation than general authorised representatives.
“This type of licensing category could be similar to the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) licence in the United States of America where RIAs are licensed under separate legislation with a full fiduciary responsibility to their clients and can only market themselves on a fee for service basis,” the submission stated.
“A separate licencing category that guarantees a consumer is receiving independent advice made in their best interests by a professional who has achieved a higher standard of competencies or specialisation would make it easier for consumers to seek and identify high quality, independent financial advice”.
SPAA claims that encouraging product differentiation in financial advice based on independence and competencies will allow consumers to more easily attain high quality advice “that can prevent poor financial decision making”.
“This would consequently benefit all consumers of financial advice, not just those that seek advice from the independent/higher competency advisor,” according to the submission.
With the accountants' exemption due to expire in 2016, accountants are being urged to consider their licensing options now, with recent AMP research revealing many are unaware of the time it will take to obtain a limited AFSL.
"They should begin business preparations at least a year in advance if they are planning on acting under a limited licence," an AMP statement said.