In an interview with Accountants Daily, Hayes Knight founder Greg Hayes said that since the accountants’ exemption was removed last year accountants have fallen into three groups.
“There's a small number who have actively said no we don't want to be in this space, there’s a large group who have got a licence or got themselves authorised under a licence, and then there’s probably an equal size group that actually haven't really made a call on it,” he said.
Mr Hayes said that 2017 will be “the crystallising year” for the group of undecided accountants, and that there are going to be two main drivers for that.
The first driver is the regulatory piece.
“ASIC’s said if you're in this space you need to be operating under an authorisation, and you can't give advice without doing it in a regulated form,” Mr Hayes said.
“Clearly the evidence is ASIC is looking to manage enforcement in that area and I would imagine that whatever ASIC is doing in that space will also be supported by the professional and if they see any evidence of firms providing advice in that space then that would become a professional issue.”
The second driver is the clients themselves.
“2017 is a massive year for change for members of SMSFs with the changes in the regulations that were introduced in the later part of last year,” Mr Hayes said.
“Anybody in that 55 to 70 year age group who are members of a self-managed fund are going to need to have a look at what they're doing in their self-managed fund and probably get some advice to check that they're on track or what the effect of the various changes to legislation coming in on 1 July will be for them.”
Mr Hayes said statistics show that there are in excess of half a million people who fit in to that demographic and that “the natural point for many of these people is their first conversation is going to be with their accountant”.
Mr Hayes said time is running out for the accountants who have put off making a decision.
“There are a lot of unauthorised accountants who between July and December of last year were of the view that they could afford to not have made a call on their position as they didn’t have a lot of SMSF work happening,” Mr Hayes said.
“But over the next three or four months those people are going to just have client after client after client who is saying can we talk about this, so I think they’ll be forced to make a decision one way or another in terms of what they're going to do.”