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.”