Advisers vs Accountants: The war can't last

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Tension between accountants and financial planners has risen following a scathing press release of the financial planning profession, sent out by an accounting association.

The release from the National Tax and Accountants’ Association (NTAA), encouraged people to go to their accountant instead of their financial adviser, citing ‘stranger danger’ as a concern of visiting an adviser.

NTAA spokesperson Kristyn House, said that the law change requiring planners to act in clients’ best interests was worrying, and many retirees were not aware of it.

 “How can an industry be so bereft of integrity that the government has had to legislate that they act in their clients’ best interests?” said NTAA spokeswoman Kristyn House.

However, the Institute of Public Accountants says that this does not represent the views of all accountants, and is not helping with the animosity that is already out there between the two professions.

Vicki Stylianou of the IPA says that there is already some hostility on both sides, with disrespect towards each other’s profession. While accountants are resentful over their obligations surrounding FoFA, planners are feeling the same way towards TASA. But that there are also plenty of planners and accountants who work very happily together, says Stylianou.

“I think sometimes it’s a bit dangerous to take one very particular view and say it represents all your members,” she says.

“Of course you’ve got to stand up and represent your members, but at the end of the day you’ve got to recognise where legislation is going... I think there’s got to be a recognition that this is all happening and how do you help your members make the transition... Not doing it in a necessarily aggressive kind of way, but really just trying to help them in a practical way.”

She says that with an increased blending of the professions, it is important for the professional bodies to be working together. With new licensing regimes, the lines between accounting and planning will blur, and while there may not be a whole scale blending, Stylianou believes there will be a lot of overlap.

“I think it will be harder for them to survive independently of each other... I think at the very least, most of them will have to have some kind of referral arrangement, whether it’s to an accountant, a tax accountant or to a planner or different type of adviser...”

“I call it the circle of trusted advisers. I still think accountants are in the middle of that circle but I think it’s become a situation where any of those professionals need to have a circle around them.”

  • Craig Yates on 31/07/2013 10:58:58 AM

    For 24 years, I have worked closely with a number of Accountants who have all been more than happy to refer clients requiring specialised financial advice across a broad range of area's, in the knowledge that their clients will receive advice in their best interest.
    These referrals are based on trust and there has never once been any fees change hands between myself or the Accountants.I similarly, have referred a number of my clients to these Accountants as I know they too will receive quality advice in my clients best interest.We have the same ethical and moral approach to the treatment of our clients and an appreciation of the level of trust a client places in their advisers to assist them in the best possible way.Krysten House of the NTAA appears to be uneducated and immature in her commentary.She may not be uneducated or in fact immature, but at this point, without any evidence to negate otherwise, it is clear she has little capacity for the understanding of how the "circle of trusted advisers" really works day to day for clients and consumers.

  • Certified Financial Planner on 31/07/2013 1:18:02 PM

    National Tax and Accountants’ Association (NTAA) & NTAA spokesperson Kristyn House is the stranger.

    Beware ‘stranger danger’

    National Tax and Accountants’ Association (NTAA) & NTAA spokesperson Kristyn House do not have any Best Interest at all for any one & specially to their own profession.

  • Mark on 31/07/2013 1:29:38 PM

    I think her name says it all, Kristyn House - you know what they say about people who live in glass HOUSES.
    Any self respecting business owner does their best to act in their clients best interest, thats obvious. IF you understand the legalities behind Best Interest Duty it's far beyond what would in the real world equate to acting in your clients best interest - an expensive lawyer could provide the detail. Obviously Ms House is not fully informed on FoFA's Best Interest Duty, hence her foolish & provocative comments.

  • James Smith on 31/07/2013 4:26:14 PM

    House does raise a good point - FOFA does infer that advisers cannot be trusted to do the right thing and need additional regulation. Given the regulation and professional standards already in place how did this happen ? Clearly it has been in the vested interests of the industry funds to paint this picture but why was the response from the industry so weak ? We seem to have confused professional standards with regulation. ie if we accept more regulation we will be seen to be more professional. Really??? Or additional regulation will weed out the rogues. The existing regulations did not prevent that so why will additional regulation achieve that ? Success in this industry always has and always will be based on quality advice and service based on experience,education and earned trust. Regulation that promotes industry and retail super funds to employ 'advisers' is waving the white flag to professionalism and client best interest. FOFA needs to be reformed and the input of experienced professional advisers should lead the way and put the self righteous industry and retail funds in their place.

  • PR person in the industry on 31/07/2013 4:48:33 PM

    I understand that everyone is outraged but I think that people should also consider that Kristyn House is a PR person employed by NTAA. Unfortunately sometimes we are made to do things we dont neccessary agree with doing because it's part of our job.

  • Clem on 1/08/2013 10:51:03 AM

    Lets also remember NTAA own a dealer group - Interprac Financial Planning - and are promoting their own accountants licencing solution. Small conflict of interest perhaps ...

  • Exelsuper on 1/08/2013 10:59:24 AM

    As one of the few organisations specialising in SMSF with both an AFSL and a tax license, I, as CEO of Exelsuper am aghast that this animosity has been aired so publicly. I'm sick of being part of a professiona that acts like a bunch of seagulls fighting over a chip!!
    We are in fact in the same industry of delivering high quality advice to clients. To suggest that accountants professional standards are higher than those of the financial planning industry is just not true. We can all site disgraceful examples of poor advice tainted by self interest from both accountants and financial planners. Conversely, there are some outstanding professionals practicing in both industrys. The simple fact is that standards of SMSF knowledge and advice needs to be raised in both professions. The NTAA's professional development program for SMSF advice leaves a lot to be desired, and falls well short of SPAA SSA requirements. I note with interest their accreditation process for becoming a finacial planner involves a handful of modules with 10 questions at the end of each module????? Of all the funds that we have had to fix in the last 3 years, 92.6% were established and administered by accountants who had lead their clients into situations of non compliance with SIS and innaproriate strategies that were ultimately harmful to clients. It's alsp important to note that the NTAA's vested interest has not been disclosed in the article, in that they are now running their own AFSL encouraging accountants to sign up to be Axuthorised Reps. Talk about advice that smacks of self interest!!! Perhaps the NTAA should practice what it preaches.

  • Peter Johnston - AIOFP on 1/08/2013 7:03:07 PM

    Lets not forget that over 40% of Great Southern's inflows where directly from Accountants [too greedy to share it...] and there are a lot more Accountants in jail than advisers... Up until now i thought the Accountants had a very good PR strategy to deflect the blame and stay under the radar....

  • Alan on 21/02/2014 10:17:16 AM

    Appears from comments this issue or article was raised last year in July. I don't think it helps to personally disparage Krysten House who I do not know. She does make a very valid point about government needing to legislate to act in a client's best interest. If you cannot do that without more regulation you definitely shouldn't be here. Unfortunately bad apples remain in the barrel so the government needs to act for the lowest common denominator and after all, isn't that how all laws operate? The professional advisers, accountants, planners etc. who have always operated on best interest principles need not worry. If you don't do that, you simply won't remain in business, you will be found out. Good comments from Craig Yates too, makes lots of business sense.

  • Rodney Johnston on 21/02/2014 10:23:21 AM

    We have spent the last few years having Industry Super bagging the industry and now Kristyn. It's time we all learned to "build each other up" We are not all perfect, but the overwhelming majority are just decent people doing the best for their clients. I am getting tried of the negative, it just pulls down us all down.

  • Best Interest on 21/02/2014 10:24:55 AM

    Surely Ms. House is now out of a job?

  • Jon Dixon on 21/02/2014 11:34:20 AM

    The old saying about people in glass houses and those stones !!!! Kristyn House please take note - accountants missed very basic tax advise for my mum over 6 years costing her over $100,000 in capital gains tax. When I questioned the accountant his response was ' But it is not my job to give tax advise'!! Believe folks...that was his answer. Secondly ever 4th person that comes to see me with a smsf from their accountant has a balance less than $150,000 !!!!....and almost all of them have been in cash for years citing advise from the accountant that they do not need a financial adviser......great work accountants !!!

  • Ben (CFP) on 31/07/2013 9:51:58 AM

    How arrogant of the NTAA (yes it may be the opinion of one person however she is representing the NTAA!)! There are plenty of 'ordinary' accountants out in the market place however financial planners (or the industry as a whole) at least have the respect not to open their mouths before engaging their brains to let rubbish like that come out. Kristyn House needs to take a good hard look at herself and realise that she (and the industry she represents) is not as perfect as she thinks. It is arrogance like that which makes relations between professional groups so tense at times. I deal with plenty of accountants and vice versa and we respect each other and what we each do and by doing that we are ensuring we are BOTH looking after our clients the best way we can. Kristyn at least by having laws that state we must look after our client's best interest it shows that we are not scared and do not need to hide behind anything, as it is out there in full view for eveyone to see! Perhaps it may be people like you that clients need to be aware of, as clearly there is no protection from the government for them should you do something wrong!

  • Innocent Observer on 31/07/2013 9:56:45 AM

    Comments like those of Kristyn's are not only inflamatory, they are outright stupid.

    Clearly she is ignorant of the role that advice (of which tax advice is only one -- albeit important -- element) plays in helping consumers make sensible financial decisions.

  • DPM Financial Planner on 31/07/2013 10:04:08 AM

    Re. NTAA spokeswoman Kristyn House.... Kristyn, diplomacy is a skill you need when holding such a position. If you remove 'the smoke screen' called FOFA ....... you have at its very core a Labour party driven agenda to give industry super (ie Trade Union Super) a bigger slice of the superannuation pie. Regulation of an industry is a good thing to a point. The Finance industry is already regulated. FOFA is an unnecessary addition, with an agenda of Trade Union bias.

  • Bill (CFP and FCA) on 31/07/2013 10:11:43 AM

    As a Chartered Accountant with CFP status I do not agree with the NTAA's comments. With respect to the NTAA it is one of the smaller Accounting bodies and in my view does not represent the accounting profession but rather a small segment. I agree that it is important that all professionals work towards achieving the best outcome for their clients and comments like this do not in any way contribute to this debate.

  • Alan Tickle on 31/07/2013 10:27:51 AM

    The NTAA comment is a shame but reality is that best interest was always in RG practice but is now enshrined. Rules and laws are put in place in all works of life to direct the behaviours of those who need directing and not a reflection on the majority professionals in both accounting and Financial planning professions who have and will always act with integrity and passion for the wellbeing of their clients.

  • EC on 31/07/2013 10:28:57 AM

    As a financial planner I have ALWAYS had the best interest of my clients upper most in my advice. As in any profession there are always the "cowboys" out there whom are only out for themselves! I believe Kristyn House should have a good look at her own profession and the advice some of it's "Cowboys" give! "BID" should be utilised in all circumstances wether that be financial planning, banking or accounting and the 3 of these should be able to co exsist with the same rules and obligations!! we should all stick to our "core" businesses and stop underminding each other, it is, after all about what is in the "Best interest of our clients"

  • Leo on 31/07/2013 10:51:51 AM

    Before bagging the FPs, Kristyn, should look in her own backyard. Need we remember the likes of Andersen Consulting?
    Everyone knows the BID legslation was put in place as a smoke screen to give industry super funds an additional advantage.

WP forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

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