Accountants split on SMSF advice

With the accountants’ exemption on SMSF advice set to expire in 2016, accountants are divided on what course of action to take when it comes to licensing.

An industry poll conducted by AccountantsDaily has revealed the most popular licensing option will be to become an authorised representative of an AFSL holder. However, there was also much support for two alternative options.

Of the 109 respondents, 36.7 said they will become an authorised representative, while 23.9 per cent said they will refer clients to an SMSF specialist and 21.1 per cent said they will obtain their own limited AFSL. The remainder said they will obtain a full AFSL (6.4 per cent) or get out of the SMSF space altogether (also 6.4 per cent).

AMP’s head of SMSF advice, Stuart Abley, told AccountantsDaily he agrees with the results and isn't surprised that becoming an authorised representative is the most popular option.

“The knowledge, wisdom and experience they [authorised representatives] have access to will help them make the most of the opportunities licensing can bring their practice,” he said.

“Deciding about becoming an authorised representative should be based around things like the benefits a well-resourced institution parent can offer, what value-added services can they provide and what’s their technology like,” added Mr Abley.

However, Tim Mackay, of independently owned financial planning firm Quantum Financial, told AccountantsDaily that referring SMSF advice to specialised SMSF advisers will produce the best results for clients.

“I don’t believe that anyone can be the best at both accounting and financial planning or SMSF advice,” Mr Mackay said.

“From our perspective, it’s in the client’s best interest for the two parties to work together.

“We have our own licence, we went to all the trouble of getting our own licence. If you’re going to operate in this space and you can’t get your own licence - you don’t have the qualification and experience necessary to get your own licence - well, perhaps that’s telling you something,” he said.

Quantum Financial already has relationships in place with many accountants and, according to Mr Mackay, will be looking to develop relationships with more accountants as the exemption expires.

“As long as there is a relationship of trust and we can work together with the accountants, then certainly we are open to working with more and more accountants,” he said.

“From our perspective, that works well for our clients in that they get the best of both worlds.”

 

 

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