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Tailoring, updates vital to SOA compliance

Accountants using white-label statement of advice (SOA) services must ensure their templates are specifically tailored to each client, as well as kept up to date with the ongoing changes to the super reforms, in order to meet Australian Securities and Investments Commission standards.

In response to industry speculation the corporate regulator will be taking a closer look into this area, AccountantsIQ director Bronny Speed said there was a danger with “cookie-cutter” templates that did not compel accountants to actually learn how to execute a compliant SOA.

“Where I’ve seen others be more cookie cutter is where all the strategy text is in the document and accountants just go through and delete information,” Speed told selfmanagedsuper.

“If you’ve got everything in a document and you need to pull out parts that you don’t need, you tend to miss them [later].

“Once an accountant using our white label works out what the objectives of the client are in line with their personal circumstances, accountants have to pull down the appropriate strategy text and follow our colour-coding, which helps accountants understand the parts of an SOA that need to remain in the document, be read and acknowledged, and changed to fit the client.

“So our approach forces the accountant to actually think about the client’s objectives in order to pull that information in, and in turn making it as tailored, streamlined and highly compliant for the clients as possible; it can cater for any number of strategy situations.”

AccountantsIQ is also supported with technical input from Heffron SMSF Solutions and compliance input from Brett Walker at Smart Compliance.

“As a trained chartered accountant, filling out advice documents isn’t a skill that you’re taught,” Speed noted.

“Then, of course, the new super rules made life much harder for accountants in working out what the legislation is actually saying and, in some cases, we didn’t have clarity with some issues, so it took a while to flush out.

“Regardless, I had to rewrite a lot of the strategy text and have it signed off by Brett because that’s another big issue – potentially sending out information that’s old or out of date.”

AccountantsIQ’s white-label SOAs were carved out of its compliance support business off the back of strong demand from accountants asking for help in how to complete an SOA template, she added.

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