After a significant bottleneck last year, the corporate regulator has distributed a number of draft limited licences to accounting firms and is currently working through outstanding requirements with the remaining applicants.
ASIC on the home stretch with accountants’ licences
An ASIC spokesperson confirmed to sister publication SMSF Adviser that as of 7 July 2017, ASIC had offered 30 applications a draft Limited Australian Financial Services licence and it is “awaiting further mandatory basic documentation from those applicants in order to complete the applications”.
“ASIC is still assessing another six applications,” an ASIC spokesperson said.
Speaking at the SMSF Association’s National Conference in February, ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell said there were 320 applications still being worked through and that had been returned to the applicants due to incomplete information. Mr Kell said 523 applications, at the time, had been granted a licence.
ASIC received a total of 1,181 applications during the three-year transition process, according to Mr Kell.
The take-up of the limited licence has fallen significantly short of ASIC’s expectations, with the corporate regulator finding that at the time it had resources dedicated to processing applications, a minimal amount were coming through.
“I do wonder whether ASIC in the next five years or so will actually remove the limited licence altogether because the take-up has been marginal and there’s been so many implementation issues with it in terms of how you operate under a limited licence,” said Mayflower Consulting director Sarah Penn recently.
The limited licence has failed to add any real value to the industry, Ms Penn added, and resulted in “headaches instead”.
“I don’t think there’ll be much work done on it and they’ll either die a natural death or at some point someone at ASIC will turn around and say, ‘This is just causing everyone more work for no added benefit’”.