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Accounting, Financial Planning

Accountants well qualified to give advice

accountants SMSF advice

Qualified accountants should be able to provide limited SMSF advice, having already met the standards needed to do so.

Qualified accountants should be able to provide advice on a range of limited SMSF matters, given many meet current professional and education standards and are appropriately regulated, according to a submission from a number of industry bodies.

The submission to the Treasury Quality of Advice Review, drawn together by the SMSF Association, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) and Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), said the ability to allow accountants to provide superannuation advice could be achieved by amending the definition of tax agent service in section 90-5 of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009.

The submission stated this amendment would allow a ‘qualified accountant’ who was a member of one of the major accounting bodies, who operated under a certificate of public practice and was a registered tax agent (RTA) with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) to provide advice on establishing or winding up an SMSF, establishing and calculating pension payments from an existing super fund and calculating and making contributions to the same.

However, the amendment would only apply where the accountant was listed on the Register of Relevant Providers as at the date the legislation is passed or within two years prior to this date or was accredited as an SMSF specialist adviser to provide a service in the ordinary course of business as an RTA.

In putting forward this recommendation, the three groups stated: “We are not asking for a return of the old accountants’ exemption, whereby any qualified accountant could advise on superannuation and SMSF issues without additional training and/or consumer protections.”

The three bodies also added the recommendation made sense as tax (financial) advisers had been removed from the TPB and were now under ASIC’s guidance and “we likewise believe that the small cohort of accountants who are suitably qualified should be removed from the ASIC regime and be placed under the regulation of the TPB”.

“This cohort of professional accountant advisers are already practising under the tenets of being professionals: degree qualified with postgraduate accounting studies, significant mentored experience, a code of ethics enforced through a rigorous quality review and discipline process, annual CPD (continuing professional development) requirements,” the submission said.

“The former FASEA (Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority) regime seeks to bring all industry participants to these levels by 1 January 2026. We believe it is in the public interest that these qualified advisers should be able to practise in this capacity.”

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