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Unlicensed SMSF accountants get clean bill of health

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ASIC has not found any systemic concerns with unlicensed SMSF advice.

The corporate regulator’s recently completed assessment investigating unlicensed accountants recommending clients set up an SMSF has found no systemic concerns around the provision of unlicensed SMSF advice.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) review did, however, identify significant levels of inaccurate and out of date information on websites and in promotional material of accountants reviewed.

Since 1 July 2016, accountants need to be covered by an Australian financial services licence (AFSL) in order to recommend their client set up an SMSF.

ASIC’s review used a broad range of sources to identify accountants who were possibly providing unlicensed SMSF advice including information provided by the ATO, information obtained in the course of ASIC’s current project looking at the quality of SMSF advice and information available from AFSL applicants provided to ASIC.

The regulator also based its examination on reports of misconduct from members of the public, the outputs of a regulatory technology tool used to scan accountants’ websites for potential compliance issues, search results produced by a social media analytics platform and publicly available advertisements or statements about SMSF services or specialisation.

Further enquiries revealed most of the accountants identified were not providing unlicensed SMSF advice, ASIC said.

It has reminded any other accountants who may not have updated their service or AFSL details on their websites to do so.

“Having clear and accurate disclosure of any relevant AFSLs, as well as services provided and who provides them, is important for consumers and should avoid future misunderstandings,” the regulator said today.

“ASIC continues to make enquiries of five accountants whose services we have concerns about and will take appropriate regulatory action where necessary.

“Unlicensed advice poses a high risk to consumers and ASIC encourages anyone who becomes aware of potential unlicensed conduct to submit a report of misconduct using the online form on our website.”

ASIC will continue to work with the ATO to identify any accountants who may be providing unlicensed SMSF advice.

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