Practice Management

TPB issues confidentiality guidance

The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has released an information sheet detailing the obligations of advisers in relation to confidential client information as outlined in the industry body’s Code of Professional Conduct.

TPB(I) 32/2017 Code of Professional Conduct – Confidentiality of client information for tax (financial) advisers is for the specific purpose of clarifying how registered tax (financial) advisers can meet their confidentiality of information requirements under Item 6 of the TPB Code of Professional Conduct, including illustrative examples.

It sets out appropriate methods of obtaining client consent if information of a confidential nature has to be disclosed that includes permission by way of a signed letter of engagement or signed consent.

The guideline also recommends practitioners inform clients, when seeking permission to disclose confidential information, where and to whom the disclosure will be made.

In addition, the fact sheet touches on a tax (financial) adviser’s obligations in regard to information stored on the cloud, either directly or via an outsourcing arrangement, and stipulates practitioners must ensure confidentiality of client information, including appropriate disclosure in regard to where data is being sent and stored in adherence to Item 6 of the Code of Professional Conduct.

“We were keen to ensure that our key stakeholders had an opportunity to contribute to the development of this new information sheet,” TPB chair Ian Taylor said.

“Consultation was conducted with financial planning associations through the TPB Financial Adviser Forum, as well as government agencies including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

“The result of our extensive consultation process is practical guidance to assist tax (financial) advisers to understand how to comply with their confidentiality obligations under the code.”

Public submissions regarding the original exposure draft of the information sheet closed on 19 February last year with a further round of consultation undertaken by the TPB.

“I encourage all registered tax (financial) advisers to read the new information sheet and familiarise themselves with its contents,” Taylor added.

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