In the lead-up to the phasing out of the accountants’ exemption, ASIC persistently reminded accountants that if they did not lodge their applications by 1 March this year they would run a “significant risk” that their application would not be assessed by 30 June.
Kath Bowler, chief executive at Licensing for Accountants, believes these accountants – possibly in the order of 500 – will face lengthy delays until they are able to provide SMSF advice to their clients.
While she has no concrete guide from ASIC on time frames for processing applications, she said she’s heard some delays could be “up to 12 months”.
“We’ve got a large number of accountants that are now in the holding pattern. [My understanding is] ASIC had funding until 30 June. Which is not actually when ASIC needed the funding,” Ms Bowler said.
“They had a lot of analysts sitting idle, because the applications didn’t come in then,” she said.
“ASIC made it very clear in the media in the lead-up to 1 March, but I guess it’s human nature to leave things to the last minute. Accountants did that, and now they’re suffering,” she added.
However, Ms Bowler reiterated ASIC’s very public messages – that there will be resources dedicated to compliance and monitoring.
“My take is that they will focus on the people who have done nothing,” she said.
In fact, in its corporate plan for 2016-17, ASIC pointed to a special focus on the surveillance and monitoring of accountants.
Accountants who have recently entered the financial advice industry, and unlicensed financial advice by accountants, will be part of one of ASIC’s key surveillance projects, according to the corporate plan.