ASIC report puts accountants on top

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ASIC has released the findings from its first major taskforce project into the SMSF sector and shows that people prefer to go to accountants for SMSF advice over financial advisers.

According to the report, 32% of SMSF members cite an accountant as their main source of advice. The next popular option was no advice, at 23%. Financial advisers came in at third, with 19% of respondents using them as their main source of SMSF advice.

However, ASIC said it did not see strict compliance with some of the accountants providing product advice under the AFSL exemption rule. One of the main mistakes by accountants was not keeping a copy of their written statement required by the Corporations Regulations.

In the report, ASIC have provided a list of tips for advice professionals. These include:

  • Provide investors with a copy of key ATO publications with their SOA to ensure investors understand their obligations.
  • You should explain to investors the duties and obligations that each trustee has to meet by law.
  • You should explain to investors that, within 21 days of becoming an SMSF trustee, they will need to complete the ATO’s trustee declaration.
  • You should walk investors through the ATO’s trustee declaration, explain each obligation and duty, and allow investors to ask any questions about their obligations.
  • If you do not adequately understand the role and obligations of SMSF trustees, it is inappropriate for you to advise investors about SMSFs.

On the release of the report, ASIC commissioner Peter Kell said “ASIC has ramped up its attention on a sector that is of growing importance to more Australian investors. We want to help ensure that we have a healthy SMSF sector.”

“At the very least, investors need to understand the time, resources, compliance obligations and risks associated with do-it-yourself superannuation, before moving their superannuation savings out of an APRA-regulated environment,” he said.

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