Accountants hit out over licensing changes

Industry research indicates a majority of accountants believe the government has failed to communicate the details of the new licensing regime, amidst ongoing warnings that a failure to comply will result in hefty regulator backlash.

A straw poll hosted by AccountantsDaily, which asked ‘Has the government adequately communicated the changes to the financial services licensing regime?’, indicates a majority of accountants are dissatisfied with the available resources.

Of the 1,063 participants, 72.2 per cent voted no, while the remaining 27.8 per cent voted yes.

Industry lawyers, including The Fold Legal’s Jaime Lumsden Kelly, conceded that ASIC’s guidance in some cases “is not as clear as it should be”.

Nevertheless, ASIC has warned accountants there will be no grace period or leniency where non-compliance is detected.

“Frankly, if you decide after 1 July to give advice on establishing or operating an SMSF and you don’t have the requisite licence, where you’re not operating under a licence for someone who does, you’re acting illegally,” ASIC commissioner Greg Tanzer said earlier this year.

“Then you’re joining the club with the investment scammers, the property spruikers, and all of the other people who choose to operate illegally.”

Accountants have been warned on several occasions that the regulator will likely be shadow shopping with them, particularly in light of the $127 million budget boost the government gave ASIC in May.

“Even without the boost, we knew it was going to happen. It means that it might happen even more so, and it’ll be more intense,” said the Institute of Public Accountants’ Vicki Stylianou.

“If I was an accountant, I’d be thinking ‘there’s a greater chance of being caught out’.”

 

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