The push for accountants to be allowed to provide incidental advice around superannuation and the creation and use of SMSFs has received support from a senior government minister.
Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said he was supportive of the move and believed it was consistent with the other forms of advice already provided by accountants.
Sukkar made the comments following a speech to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) National Congress in Adelaide late last week, where he responded to questions from attendees, including the possibility of the government changing regulations to allow accountants to provide incidental advice.
The Assistant Treasurer prefaced his comments by stating the issue was not part of his portfolio and was overseen by Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology Jane Hume, but he regarded accountants as holding a central advice role for many Australians.
“I would reiterate my earlier comments that accountants play a central role to most small businesses’ lives, and when I say a central role, I mean you are not pigeonholed in the minds of your clients the way accountants in other parts of the world are,” he said.
“When I think of the US, it is the lawyer that is the all-round trusted adviser, but in Australia it is very different, and it is the accountant who is the centrepiece of external advice, and my view is that our regulatory system, including financial advice, should recognise the unique role accountants play.”
He said this meant allowing accountants to have “those broader conversations that have sensibly been occurring for many decades to continue. That is my instinctive reaction”.
“On the basic premise of the question, you will not get any arguments from me. The devil is in the detail and in how to construct a regime that allows light-touch advice to occur that is incidental to your primary function without it being a back door to circumventing the significant regulatory changes to advice,” he said.
Also at the IPA National Congress, IPA chief executive Andrew Conway announced the three major accounting bodies – IPA, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and CPA Australia – had been joined by the Financial Planning Association and SMSF Association to investigate reducing the complexity and costs of the current licensing regime.