financial advice, Legislation, SMSFA

SMSFA seeking clarity over adviser class

SMSFA Qualified advisers Quality of Advice Review Accountants

An industry body has called for further details regarding the implementation of the final recommendations of the Quality of Advice Review.

The SMSF Association (SMSFA) has voiced its dissatisfaction with several key provisions of the federal government’s final plan to implement recommendations from the Quality of Advice Review (QAR).

Specifically, SMSFA chief executive Peter Burgess expressed concerns about the proposal to introduce a new group of financial advice providers called ‘qualified advisers’ and urged Treasury to provide further clarification on the implementation of the measure.

“We acknowledge the need for broader advice to be available to consumers, but the introduction of a new category of adviser called a ‘qualified adviser’ has the potential to be misconstrued. It certainly requires much further consideration,” Burgess stated.

“At this stage it is difficult to assess the impact of this new category of adviser when the scope of advice, and the education requirements, experience and supervision requirements which underpin it, have not been released.

“We appreciate this is unsettling for the advice community that has been required to meet high educational and professional standards and we encourage the government to expedite the release of further details so meaningful and constructive feedback can be provided and necessary changes made.”

He also took issue with the decision to exclude accountants from providing advice, stating Treasury had missed an opportunity to bridge the financial advice gap for many Australians, including SMSF members.

“We are disappointed accountants have once again been left out in the cold. Despite accountants’ advice being included in the QAR terms of reference, there was again no mention of accountants and the role they play in the advice process in the final report,” he noted.

“The lack of a suitable model for appropriately qualified and experienced accountants is an opportunity lost and a poor outcome for consumers. It leaves a critical gap in the financial advice framework, particularly for SMSF trustees who have ongoing advice needs not involving product placement, portfolio management or discreet investment advice.

“As we have repeatedly said, the limited licensing model is a dying model. As of 30 November 2023, only 598 accountants who are limited licensed advisers remain.

“Increasing licensing costs, Australian Securities and Investments Commission adviser levies and now the compensation scheme of last resort will see this cohort continue to exit advice at a time when more licensed advisers are urgently needed. Put simply, it is not fit for purpose.”

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