Accounting, Financial Planning

Accountants’ exemption return rejected

Accountants’ exemption return rejected

Two major professional accounting bodies have expressed their concern regarding the reintroduction of the accountants’ exemption as part of their joint submission to the Treasury’s review of the Tax Practitioners Board.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) and CPA Australia have voiced their opposition to the reintroduction of an exemption for accountants to provide basic SMSF advice.

The professional accounting bodies said the exemption was irrelevant in the current financial advice environment because of its “extreme limitations”, and unlikely to help accountants meet their clients’ needs.

As part of their joint submission to the Treasury’s review of the Tax Practitioners Board, CAANZ and CPA Australia noted, “Tax is a key consideration for the majority of financial planning strategies, it is material to the advice and recommendations and not incidental.”

Pointing out the accountants’ exemption would only permit the recommendation to either establish or wind up an interest in an SMSF, they said the exemption was too limited to even allow a recommendation to not establish an SMSF.

“Restoring such a limited exemption is not going to address the need to enable affordable, accessible and quality advice by trusted advisers,” they added.

CAANZ advocacy and international group executive Simon Grant said: “There is widespread agreement amongst members that the current regulatory and licensing regime for strategic advice needs work.”

“So rather than putting a band-aid over a very deep wound, we need to look at the issue holistically and find a solution for strategic advice that is fit-for-purpose, permanent and serves Australian mums and dads.”

CPA Australia external affairs general manager Paul Drum said: “The objective of the Future of Financial Advice reforms was to ensure advice is in the best interests of clients and advice should not be put out of reach of those who would benefit from it, and this has arguably not been achieved,”

“CAANZ and CPA Australia are calling for a wholesale review of the current financial advice frameworks to address regulatory complexity.

“This complexity has been caused by years of layered regulatory reforms, without appropriate consideration to ensure these reforms are meeting their policy intent.

“The wholesale review must identify policy changes needed to ensure that consumers can access quality affordable advice from their choice of trusted adviser.”

Last week, the Institute of Public Accountants voiced their support for the reintroduction of the accountants’ exemption, saying it would help accountants play a role in satisfying the current unmet financial advice needs of Australians.

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