Of the 103 accountants who responded to the AccountantsDaily survey, just 46 said they had begun preparing for the new licensing regime.
Fausto Pastro, a director of William Bucks' wealth management arm, told AccountantsDaily he is disappointed, but not surprised, by the result.
“I’m beginning to wonder whether accountants actually do realise the impact of all this, the fact that the exemption will cease effective 30 June 2016 and what it actually means for them,” he said.
“I’m wondering whether accountants really understand whether they won’t be able to continue to advise their clients.”
Mr Fausto dismissed the notion accountants are simply waiting until closer to the end of the exemption to act in order to put off increased costs incurred under self-licensing.
“I think it would be foolish to wait until 2016 because it will take time to qualify for license, the license isn’t just going to be handed out,” he said.
Accountants waiting to act in an attempt to reduce costs run the risk of missing out, meaning they will not be able to legally advise their clients “as their clients have come to expect them to advise,” according to Mr Pastro.
“I think the penalties for getting it wrong are so much higher, and the final penalty is clients going elsewhere to obtain their advice,” he said.
“Clients have always believed that they should be able to receive all for their advice from their accountants and I think accountants are putting this responsibility, this expectation in jeopardy,” Mr Pastro said.
Keddie Waller, policy adviser, financial planning for CPA said, "The fact is if an accountant wants to continue to recommend the establishment or winding up of an SMSF to their clients after 1 July 2016, they will need to be licensed.
“They do not need to choose now between applying for their own limited AFS licence or being licensed under another entity. However, if they know they will need to be licensed it is important they start their training now or they will run out of time.
“Importantly the professional accounting bodies have many exclusive resources available and members should be taking advantage of this to help them review their options and be ready for 1 July 2016 when the exemption is repealed,” said Ms Waller.
Are you thinking of expanding your offering into SMSFs to grow your client base? Become a pro at SMSF fundamentals and make your clients bulletproof with the SMSF Foundations course. Learn directly from Aaron Dunn from Smarter SMSF as he deep-dives into the fundamentals you need to know to successfully undertake your work as an SMSF practitioner. Earn up to 21 CPD hours! Learn more