Professional leaders call for inclusion

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Accountants now have three years to transition to the new licensing regime, with a streamlined process for ‘recognised accountants’.

The Government has amended the Corporations Regulations 2001, to provide a streamlined process for accountants affiliated with CPA Australia, the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Institute of Public Accountants. Under the streamlined process, they do not have to demonstrate that they meet the experience required for the organisational competence requirement. However, within three years from the date on which the licence is granted, ASIC may request those accountants to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and experience to provide financial service.

SPAA CEO Andrea Slattery says, “It is important that the new licensing regime recognises practitioners who have attained an appropriate level of competence regardless of which professional body they are affiliated with.”

The three bodies had the accountants exemption removed and were provided with a new, cost-saving opportunity to join the licensing regime. SPAAs

“SPAA’s accreditation program and practising certificate, as peak body resting on high level SMSF competencies, meets all of the requirements to access the limited licensing regime and SPAA is in discussions with the regulators and Government to be able to also access the reduced cost and opportunities provided through the limited licensing regime.”

She says SPAA will be speaking to Government “sooner rather than later”, and will be pressing their case very strongly to be recognised in the new regulations.

The IPA says it will be interested to see how ASIC implements the replacement to the accountants' exemption over time.  “This will include how the scope of advice will be interpreted and the enforcement action to follow will be implemented,” says IPA’s Vicki Stylianou.

“Hopefully, the so-called streamlined process will be exactly that - a streamlined process.  Again, it depends on what resources are thrown at it by ASIC and we are focused on the practical outcomes.  If our members can't get through the process quickly and efficiently, within a few days and with a minimum of paperwork then it won't be considered a success.”

Stylianou is interested to see how the relationship between accountants and planners will evolve with the implementation of the licence, and is encouraging members towards blended practices, more referrals and working together in the interest of clients. “There may be some resistance but the early adopters seem to be growing in numbers.”

Slattery says the limited licence will provide a level playing field, “where people can practise their business as they wish to practise their business, and their skills and competencies allow”.

“It’s one of those areas where there’s already a sig number of accountants that have committed to the licensing regime… and the majority of those have good working relationships with financial planners and where they are doing both you’ll find that financial planners are also spreading their wings and doing more on the tax side.”