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ASIC to conduct visits for licence monitoring

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has revealed it will carry out visits to businesses with new limited licence accountants to ensure the regime is operating well, but to also examine whether there are any lingering issues.

“Over the next 12 months we will conduct a range of surveillance activities in relation to the accountants because they’re new to our regime,” ASIC financial advisers team senior executive Joanna Bird told the SMSF Association Sydney chapter breakfast yesterday.

“This will be one of, what I call, our proactive thematic surveillances.

“We’re planning on doing visits on a small number of accountants operating under a limited licence and that’s partly to help the small number that we visit, but also for us to get an understanding of what some of their issues are.

“So in a sense it’s called a surveillance, but it really is an opportunity for us to learn how the regime is working for you and whether there’s any more guidance that we need to do.”

In addition, the corporate watchdog would conduct targeted surveillance on some accountants providing financial advice, Bird said.

“That will be more of an [official] surveillance to find out whether there is any non-compliance with the law,” she noted.

“We will also be seeking to identify unlicensed activity and conduct a surveillance, and then take appropriate follow-up action.

“We’re also proposing to release an information sheet explaining how the financial services law applies to accountants.”

She revealed that as of 5 October, ASIC had issued 408 limited licences and there was a considerable backlog of applications due to late submissions.

“In spite of the fact that ASIC and the relevant industry associations made it very clear that applications would have to be in by 1 March if they were to be determined by the 1 July date, when the three-year transition period ended, the bulk of applications actually came in after 1 March,” she said.

“Forty per cent of the total applications that we received came in during June, 25 per cent of the total applications came in during the last week and 96 applications were received on the very last day of the three-year transition period.”

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