Distinguish boundaries for SMSF

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A week after the real estate industry was formally warned about recommending property investment through self-managed super funds, accountants have also been told to clean up the fuzzy edges in a drive towards the industry’s professionalism.

Accountants need to be licensed if they are going to provide services on setting up an SMSF and services on investments within SMSF, says Andrea Slattery, the chief executive of SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia.

Slattery told Wealth Professional accountants need to distinguish boundaries between tax advice and property, and tax and financial advice for property in SMSF, when recommending commercial and other property for investment.

“You’ll need to build your knowledge and understanding of legal requirements to provide those services and your professionalism, which means you’ll need to determine whether you need to be a member of another professional body and code of conduct as well as the IPA,” she said.

“You’ll need to determine what skills and competencies you need to have to deliver those things.”

Last week Slattery spoke at the Institute of Public Accountants’ annual congress.

She thought the most important thing that came out of the conference was in relation to the commitment of IPA members to practice in the SMSF profession. Accountants are realising they must understand the law of SMSF in order to build their competencies to give professional valued advice, she said.

“I think the conference highlighted the fact that accountants now need to become more diversified into the financial services regime or decide if they want to continue just on the compliance route.

“They really need to strengthen and build their own knowledge and competencies in other diversified areas, like SMSF.”

ASIC has also been concerned about people not understanding legal obligations when providing property and SMSF advice.

Last week the regulatory body sent a letter to the Real Estate Institute of Australia to warn the industry about recommending property investment through SMSFs without being licensed to provide the advice.

If a person does not hold an Australian Financial Services licence or is not authorised by an AFS licensee, they can only provide factual information to consumers in relation to SMSFs, warned ASIC.

Agents must immediately stop offering financial service until they get a licence or become a representative of a licence holder.

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