Despite the accountants' exemption being phased out in June 2016, Licensing for Accountants chief executive Kath Bowler said the confusion around what training is required of accountants who apply for the limited licence remains a significant issue.
“It’s not one-size-fits-all; it would be great if ASIC could provide some examples of different areas of advice, and then what’s required in terms of training and what the licence application would be,” Ms Bowler said.
Ms Bowler pointed out that licensing applications are being rejected because accountants don’t have the right level of training.
“There’s certainly a massive amount of miscommunication at the moment. Accountants aren’t undertaking any training because they don’t actually know what [course] to take,” Ms Bowler said.
“Different training providers are telling them different things, different licensees are telling them different things, so I believe it’s one of the reasons accountants aren’t moving because they don’t know how to move.”
Director of Mayflower Consulting, Sarah Penn, believes that while getting a financial services licence should be an intensive process, there’s potentially an opportunity to provide further support to accountants.
“I don’t think it should be easy to get a financial services licence, and I think it’s really important that the standards aren’t lowered, and that ASIC continues to expect evidence of experience in this area and responsible managers who know what they’re getting into and be able to fulfil their duties effectively,” Ms Penn said.
“[ASIC] provide fantastic support for consumers on their MoneySmart website, but there probably is opportunity to provide support to accountants as well.”