Face of SMSF advice uncertain

The types of practitioners who will provide particular aspects of SMSF advice remains a little unclear due to the variety of licensing requirements currently applying to professionals operating in the sector, the head of an industry body has said.

According to SMSF Association chief executive Andrea Slattery, the uncertainty centres on the obligation for accountants to be licensed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in order to provide financial advice and the necessity for financial planners to be registered as tax agents with the Tax Practitioners Board in order to provide advice covering taxation, and the action these two groups will eventually take.

“So we’ve actually got a part of the advice community – we don’t know whether it’s big or small – that is actually in question as to whether or not they can legally provide the services their clients need,” she explained.

Slattery admitted no one is really sure where the SMSF advice community will end up in their efforts to comply with the new rules.

“So we’ve got a very critical time coming where the industry is going to [potentially experience] some real setbacks,” she said.

Slattery pointed out it was perfectly acceptable for accountants to provide tax and administration services without expanding into full financial advice capabilities, as it was acceptable for financial planners to stay away from tax advice.

“So long as they are working together and referring, then it’s all quite legitimate,” she said.

The findings of the “CommBank SMSF Report 2017” showed trustees are and will be increasingly looking for a one-stop shop advice solution and this is what could help shape future direction, the Commonwealth Bank’s head of SMSF customers, Marcus Evans, said.

“I think if you said what’s the future, given what Andrea has described, there’s got to be a one-stop shop and somehow or other those two pieces have to merge,” he said.

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