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Audit measure sparks lobby group formation

Belinda Aisbett

Belinda Aisbett

The SMSF Auditors Lobby Group has been established in response to the strong opposition to the 2018 budget measure to allow SMSFs with a good compliance and record-keeping history to switch to a three-yearly audit cycle, which many believe will weaken the sector.

Super Sphere director Belinda Aisbett said the lobby group was created for all SMSF professionals interested in protecting the integrity of the sector by supporting an annual audit of SMSFs.

“A joint submission was sent to various parties last week voicing our collective concerns,” Aisbett told selfmanagedsuper.

“Today I have established an SMSF Auditors Lobby Group on LinkedIn to attempt to spread the word further and to garner more interest for our next submission, should it be needed.

“We are united in our attempt to present a collective voice to preserve the findings of the Super System Review, chaired by Jeremy Cooper, which found that ‘the panel believes that the annual audit provides a high level of assurance to members, regulators, government and the community more generally’.”

In addition, the review panel found the annual audit acts to engage trustees with their super, and given the growing size of the SMSF sector and the importance of the audit role, the panel concluded the current frequency of annual audits is appropriate and should not be reduced.

Aisbett said while auditors appreciate cost saving for the SMSF industry is a positive goal, there are other ways and options to achieve that.

“[This includes] removing the need for certain minor contraventions to be reported to the ATO, thereby saving audit time and ATO resources, and removing the need for the auditor to review certain documentation and its retention, thereby saving audit time,” she noted.

“Consultation with standard setters to design more relevant and efficient mandatory auditing standards applicable to SMSF audits [will also achieve that].”

The formation of the new lobby group comes in conjunction with the SMSF auditing community’s active rallying against the proposal.

Evolv founder Ron Phipps-Ellis has published a blog post, “Let’s take action together”, encouraging his peers to join his discussion on the subject and work collaboratively to prevent the proposal in its current form from being passed.

Phipps-Ellis called out the government for not properly consulting the industry before the measure was announced in the budget last week.

He also identified a number of consequences as a result of the change including a drop in registered SMSF auditor numbers and an increase in the price of audits conducted.

The SMSF Association weighed in on the argument with concerns for the effect of reduced activity on business practices.

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