Accountants ‘not worrying enough’ about licensing

Written by Katarina Taurian Tuesday, 05 August 2014

In light of recent research showing a decline in the proportion of accountants establishing SMSFs, practitioners have warned that accountants should consider an AFSL before it’s “too little, too late”.

Research from Vanguard and Investment Trends, released last week, showed 31 per cent of investors used an accountant between 2012 and 2014 to set up their SMSF, compared with 53 per cent between 2009 and 2011.

However, the use of administrators to set up an SMSF has increased from 16 per cent between 2009 and 2011 to 24 per cent between 2012 and 2014.


Speaking to SMSF Adviser, director of William Buck, Fausto Pastro, said he is concerned that accountants are not adapting to the changing SMSF advice landscape.

“I’m concerned because they’re not worrying enough about this. I’m concerned… very soon they’ll find themselves in a position where they won’t be able to legally provide the advice they’ve been accustomed to providing and for which they’re qualified to provide,” Mr Pastro said.

“I’m not seeing a degree of questioning, I’m not seeing a degree of worrying that I think should exist about now.”

Mr Pastro also noted that compliance work, the traditional domain of accountants, is becoming increasingly automated.

“Compliance work is being mechanised. It’s being standardised. It’s being made simpler, and therefore it’s not an area that accountants can build a career [in], build a business with in future, as much as they have in the past,” he said.

The Institute of Public Accountants’ executive general manager, leadership, Vicki Stylianou also expressed concern about accountants adjusting to changes in the compliance space.

“The ATO is doing a lot more around education and training and tools for taxpayers…. which is stuff that traditionally a lot of accountants are doing," Ms Stylianou told SMSF Adviser

“The government’s move to wean taxpayers off tax agents, and thereby saving billions of dollars in deductions, I think that’s going to start accelerating too.

“Between the automation, the competition that’s going on, accountants really have to just get stuck into what they’re going to be doing… and really having a good long hard look at what they’re doing and where they’re going.”

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-1 #4 Murray 2014-08-06 17:48

Couldn't agree more. If a client decides to setup a super fund and asks for my assistance in establishing the fund then I am happy to assist. In the same way I am happy to assist in the setting up of a company or trust.

I am not going to pay 4-5K to an AFSL in order to be able to "advise a client to setup a fund". I won't be providing advice it will be the client that decides if they want an SMSF. In my experience those that want an SMSF are sophisticated, educated and financially literate which I know the statutory authorities will struggle to believe. The self interest groups doth protest too much
-1 #3 KCA 2014-08-05 13:46
I still think there is a presumption being made by regulatory agencies and professional bodies that the fight over licensing and accountants exemption has been had. They are in fact only mere skirmishes. The real war begins about 6 months out from when licensing begins and the members of the profession finally start to focus on it.
I still see huge parallels with intro of GST and lots of talk about how small practitioners need to get organised early etc. It didn't happen then when it got close to D Day these members brought so much pressure to bear that rules got changed on how BAS's were to be processed and info required etc.
0 #2 Stuart 2014-08-05 13:39
Will you guys get real!!!At this stage there has been no changes and changes are a long way in the future. Hence, we are sitting on our hands and thinking about it. We will not be rushed by Panic merchants who want to get there own business model fulfilled - they are going to have to wait for that are there are no shortages of offers. And yes, the compliance work is getting more and more mechanised - thank god, but if you call the version that we have just been forced to move to simple I would hate to see your example of complicated. The Govt continually provides work and Waynes "Swan song" will provide enough work for a few years yet. Stop nagging - it will not get you anything quicker and all it does is risk alienating your organisation. WE ARE NOT STUPID. We will change when we want or have to.
0 #1 Colin Woodward 2014-08-05 08:46
Accountants are doing what they have always. Advising on the financial wellbeing of clients and assisting in the establishment of entities, Companys Trusts. Super fund is a Trust. I have seen a number of super funds set up by non-accountants in last 12 months, all have been established incorrectly.
All my friends in Public Accounting have informed me they will keep doing what they have always done, Establish entities.

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