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Dr. Mark Sinclair
Dr. Mark Sinclair, Mentor Education

FPA Head Questions Accountants Exemption Transition

25 January 2014

The Financial Planning Association (FPA) has criticised the phase-out period for the exemption that accountants receive for advising on SMSFs and has labelled it as generous.

Dante De Gori, The FPA’s general manager of policy and standards, said that, ”although the three-year timeframe is not problematic, the phase-out period lacks action points.”

Currently, accountants are able to provide advice on the establishment of SMSFs without an Australian financial services licence but this will cease on July 1 2016.

Mr De Gori said the transition period planners received for TASA has phases that require specific actions of financial planners and “the accountants’ exemption is effectively a three-year phase-out, which means there is no incentive.” De Gori emphasised that, “they can continue using the exemption for another two-and-a-half years”, rather than having to go through a phased program to help those who want to get licenced.

De Gori lamented the lack of action points “within that three-year period to encourage accountants to go through the process and understand their obligations, and there is no awareness for ASIC to understand how many will want to become planners.”

The general manager confirmed the FPA’s position and ideally he said that, “we wanted some sort of phased program where those who really wanted to get licensed, and were committed to it, could notify ASIC and ASIC could then start delivering education and training.”

Furthermore De Gori has also questioned the decision to restrict the limited licence to accountants who are members of one of the three joint accounting bodies, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, the Institute of Public Accountants, and CPA Australia.

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