Licensing regime to devalue accounting firms

Written by Miranda Brownlee Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Accounting firms that have not prepared for the end of the accountant’s exemption but that plan to sell should be aware their practice may see a significant decline in value, warns the principal of a boutique advice firm.

Principal at Paramount Wealth Management, Wayne Leggett, said if an accounting firm has not taken steps to prepare for the licensing regime – and many services that are currently provided to clients will require a limited licence or authorisation under another licence – then this will have a clear impact on the valuation of the business.

“If, historically, the business has worked close to the line, particularly in regards with SMSF advice, for example, if a lot of the work is going to be taken off the table legislatively because they don’t have the appropriate qualifications in place, then this may undermine some of the business valuation multiples that would have otherwise applied,” he said.

Mr Leggett said the regulatory regime in general is having an impact on what practitioners can do and how they are paid.

“That puts a bit of a question mark over business valuations into the future,” he said.

“People are looking more closely at how your business is structured, what sort of agreements you have with your clients and how they pay you, how sustainable that revenue is, and what sort of services you are able to provide and charge for.”

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0 #10 Charlie3 2016-01-12 09:08
re Corporate Trustee fees, If the registered office is at the Accountants(as this must be available to the general public during working hours) and all the registers are kept there as required by ASIC then a fee is applicable
The usual fee includes these services not processing the annual ASIC lodgement
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0 #9 Leo 2016-01-08 10:36
Quoting George Lawrence:
Cam, what exactly are the fees you would charge the trustee company of a SMSF? There are no financials or a tax return so what would you be doing for it?

$250 charge for 10 minutes work by Accounting admin staff for processing annual ASIC lodgements is fairly standard in the Accounting industry.
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0 #8 George Lawrence 2016-01-06 08:49
Cam, what exactly are the fees you would charge the trustee company of a SMSF? There are no financials or a tax return so what would you be doing for it?
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0 #7 Cam 2016-01-05 08:46
Scott - setting up a SMSF with individual trustees isn't bad advice. Just because some people advocate corporate trustees as better doesn't make them right for every SMSF. Certainly corporate trustees have benefits, but they also have upfront and ongoing costs, and in many scenarios the costs outweigh the benefits. As an accountant, for many clients I'd feel a corporate trustee was more about me getting annual fees for looking after the company than it benefitting clients.
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0 #6 Scott 2016-01-02 11:50
From the previous comments I assume all accountants always give excellent advice. The last article from SMSF Adviser I read however stated that SMSF's should be set up with Corporate Trustees but 78% of all SMSF's have individual trustees rather than a corporate trustee structure. I haven't checked the percentages but it seems that some accountants and super administrators may simply be setting up cheap and nasty SMSF's to boost their revenue. If you give good advice then licensing is not an issue, if you give bad advice it makes it easier for action to be taken -- not something which is against the consumer's best interest in my opinion. Welcome to the compliance regime or change your business focus.
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0 #5 wondering 2015-12-31 13:55
If an accounting firm has no AFSL or authorised representative status & refers the financial planning & wants to sell, I actually think that will enhance the value as they do not need to untangle their licence or authorised rep status if the purchaser is not an authorised rep of the same organisation. Mr Leggett has a vested interest to talk down the price of accounting firms so he can buy them cheaply.
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0 #4 GeorgeVC 2015-12-29 15:53
Quoting Kym:
I don't know why the debate has to be so vitriollic.
For my reckoning, the 2 professions should be trying to discover how they can work together not 'drawing battle lines'. Everyone looses under that approach.
Advice firms of the future are a work in progress. Join the development and help shape a great future.


Because one is a "profession", the other is not. It's a rag-tag conglomeration of barely educated salesman, purporting to disguise their wares as care & attention.
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0 #3 Kym 2015-12-29 13:15
I don't know why the debate has to be so vitriollic.
For my reckoning, the 2 professions should be trying to discover how they can work together not 'drawing battle lines'. Everyone looses under that approach.
Advice firms of the future are a work in progress. Join the development and help shape a great future.
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0 #2 GeorgeVC 2015-12-29 10:09
Needless posturing Mr Leggett. Whatever your vested interest is, it falls on deaf ears. It is financial planning firms that shall lose value & revenue, should accountants choose to extend their professional services into financial & other services. We are after all, the only ones clients trust.

If you expect ASIC to swoop in & attack the accounting profession from 1 July 2016 then you are sadly mistaken. Not only do they not have the resources, they havent a leg to stand on. Accountants who continue to provide factual advice & accounting & audit services to their smsf clients are not in breach of the law.

Should that fact be put to the test, the Accounting profession will move in and lobby Govt for change. We have been dilatory in allowing your annoying AFSL regime to get this far. No more. The battle lines are drawn. Clients neither want nor need your half baked advice nor your exhorbidant & wasteful "looking-after" fees.
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0 #1 George Lawrence 2015-12-29 10:02
Thank you, Mr Leggett, for the lesson in valuation. I am sure firms will be aware of this issue but let me say one thing: clients will always (and rather) go to an accountant with whom they have had dealings for many years rather than someone (a financial planner ) who they have never met. This alone will ensure that accountants will take the necessary steps to comply with their regulatory obligations.
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