95% of firms forgoing ‘practical implications’ of licensing

One industry expert has indicated that in the wake of the end of the accountants' exemption, an alarming number of firms have failed to acknowledge the practical implications of licensing within their practices.

Greg Hayes, director of Hayes Knight, revealed to AccountantsDaily, that during a series of workshops held recently throughout Australia by the mid-tier, approximately 95 per cent of the 800 participating firms had failed to consider the day-to-day implications of obtaining an AFSL or becoming an authorised representative.

“I think that most of the thinking has been centred on ‘Do we get ourselves licensed? Do we get ourselves authorised?’ It hasn’t focused on, ‘Well, how does this affect the rest of our staff and the rest of the office?’” he said.

According to Mr Hayes, firms must ensure all their employees are adequately trained and informed about the way in which processes will change within their offices as a result of licensing.

“I don’t think that firms have thought about the practical implications across the office – I don’t think firms realise just how visible they are if ASIC does shadow shop, or if ASIC jumps on the firm’s websites and says, ‘let’s take a look at what’s being said here’.”

“What happens if a client is talking to a manager of a firm, that manager is not authorised at all, and the client goes into the self-managed super space – how does that manager deal with that at a practical level?”

“If ASIC brings in shadow shopping, the first person they might talk to might be your receptionist, or whoever happens to pick up the phone. Now if that person is answering questions, irrespective of whether it’s ASIC or a potential client on the phone, they need to know what the appropriate responses are and where their role fits in,” he said.

Mr Hayes said ASIC might seek to shadow shop for potential “cowboys” within the industry to make a public demonstration.

“I don’t think ASIC’s got any appetite whatsoever to try and manage thousands of accountants en masse who are either licensed or authorised. What they’re after is behaviour modification,” he said.

 

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