Adviser tax knowledge: Up to scratch?

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When the Tax Agent Sevices Act is finally passed and implemented, it will contain minimum educational standards that advisers will have to meet to provide tax advice.

There has been concern that by extending the time that advisers are able to provide tax advice without meeting this minimum requirement, the Government is placing consumers at risk. However, the FPA has fought back saying those with CFP designation are already held to the highest standards available.

“Our CFP professionals have had to reach the highest educational standards in the world. We don’t and never have doubted that they will also meet any new competency requirements,” says FPA general manager Policy and Conduct, Dante De Gori.

He says the problem is advisers can’t even prepare to update their tax knowledge yet. “That’s part of the problem. The educational requirements that the Tax Practitioners Board is wanting to impose on financial planners, that hasn’t yet been finalised…Planners, even if they wanted to, couldn’t start commencing to do the appropriate training requirements.”

Senior tax adviser Tony Greco agrees that the legislation isn’t complete, but says this shouldn’t be an issue.

“They haven’t established what the minimum tax educational requirements will be, and that’s fine because we’re not asking for it from day one,” says Greco. He says advisers can continue as per normal from 1 July, but that by the end of the transitional period they should meet those minimum requirements.

“I think it’s the wording of the legislation… We shouldn’t allow that to be the obstacle for consumer protection.

“The legislation acknowledges that we’re not asking for same level education and experience as fully-blown tax agents – it does reflect a lesser requirement.”

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