Accounting, Regulation

Govt unlikely to bring back accountants’ exemption

Accountants calling for the reinstatement of the accountants’ exemption should be mindful of the fact the federal government’s appetite to reduce regulation will be low in light of recent and ongoing inquiries, according to a superannuation expert.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand superannuation leader Tony Negline told a recent SMSF Association roundtable discussion it is highly unlikely the exemption will be reinstated given the banking royal commission and its upcoming final report, and the findings of the Productivity Commission probe into superannuation.

“If you’ve got your eyes open and you’re taking even a moderate amount of interest in the royal commission, you’ll know Canberra is not even in the slightest bit interested in less regulation,” Negline told the roundtable, held as part of the association’s inaugural SMSF Week.

“And anybody who thinks otherwise probably needs to go and review the newspapers for the last few months. And they then might want to read the interim report of the royal commission, look at what the Productivity Commission is doing and might then want to wait until the Governor-General receives the full final report from the royal commission.

“And have a little bit of a think on whether or not a government might want to run with less regulation.”

Speaking to selfmanagedsuper today, Negline warned if accountants find the new education requirements under the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority too onerous, a fair portion of them may exit the limited licensing regime, which will limit their eligibility to advise on SMSFs.

“That won’t be good for consumers,” he said.

Property Financial Services principal director Nidal Danoun said there needs to be a conversation about the hurdles accountants have been facing since the accountants’ exemption was scrapped, including costs and the processes involved in advising under a limited licensing regime.

“Accountants are saying they are still providing the same service to their clients, but now they have to charge them this extra amount [because] there’s extra work,” Danoun told the roundtable, titled “Accountants and SMSFs – what lies ahead?”

He added the downside of regulation is it involves extra work and someone has to pay for it.

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