The SMSF Association has launched an accreditation program to provide independent validation of fundamental sector knowledge and practical skills.
The SMSF practitioner, or SSP designation, will begin on 10 August and has been designed to acknowledge generalist skill with regard to SMSFs and provide an intermediate step to the pursuit of the association’s higher SMSF specialist advisor, or SSA, accreditation.
“The SSP program fits into a structure somewhat akin to what happens in other professions,” SMSF Association head of education services Liz Ward said.
“In medicine, for example, there are GPs and specialists, while in the legal profession you have paralegals and lawyers.
“From our perspective, those who earn our new SSP designation could be seen as GPs or paralegals, while those with an SSA are a lawyer or medical specialist.”
SMSF Association members of ‘associate’ level who satisfy continuing professional development and quality review program requirements will be eligible for the new accreditation.
Initially individuals will not have to complete any formal coursework to attain the SSP accreditation, but a coursework option as part of an SMSF postgraduate qualification will be introduced early next year.
“Those that enrol in the new SSP program will have their SMSF competency tested via an online case study-based examination that simulates a client scenario from initial inquiry of SMSF suitability right through to wind-up of the fund,” Ward said.
The inception of the new accreditation has come in response to employers’ requests to have a practical, foundation-based SMSF designation for their employees involved in the sector.
“It’s an encouraging sign that employers have recognised the need for such a designation that offers an excellent opportunity for those wanting to take the first step in demonstrating their practical knowledge in the SMSF space,” Ward said.
“As an association we have long argued for higher education standards and that SMSF advice is a financial services profession in its own right.
“This demand for this new SSP designation is evidence that our message is striking a chord with employers and that the notion of an SMSF profession is gaining wider traction.”