Sophie Grace manager of licensing and compliance Alicia Pevely says while accountants who are authorised representatives are generally provided with statement of advice templates and other legal documents by their dealer group, many accountants are not reading through them to ensure they are suitable.
“One of the issues we see, and that ASIC is picking up on, is people using template documents when they haven’t looked at them to determine whether or not it is actually suitable for their business, and that’s a big problem,” Ms Pevely said.
She said accountants who are authorised representatives should be looking carefully at the templates they receive and changing parts of it where necessary in order to make sure it reflects their business.
“That’s something that if ASIC was planning to do a review of your files, disclosure documents or compliance arrangements that they will pick up on,” Ms Pevely said.
“It’s not particularly hard to determine whether it’s a template that has no real relevance to your business. So that’s certainly something we see as an ongoing issue.”
ASIC has been publicly warning accountants for several years that it will be taking no prisoners on the issue of compliance with the requirements of an AFSL.
This was particularly the case in the lead up towards the end of the accountants' exemption phase-out period in July last year, when it became clear that the AFSL regime was having a limited take-up.
“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 on several occasions.
“Then you’re joining the club with the investment scammers, the property spruikers and all of the other people who choose to operate illegally,” Mr Tanzer said.