Two of the accounting bodies have outlined how a new advice model for strategic advice could be legislated for accountants.
Details unveiled for proposed strategic advice model
In response to section 4.6 of the Quality of Advice Review issues paper, CA ANZ, the Institute of Public Accountants and SMSF Association have prepared a joint submission outlining a new model for strategic superannuation advice.
The submission noted that due to escalating licensing costs, ongoing compliance costs and the unintended consequences of the FASEA regime, most of the estimated 1,600 members of the major accounting bodies and the SMSFA who are authorised to provide limited advice have ceased to do so.
For many accountants, the submission stated that superannuation advice represents only a small portion of their business and it is simply no longer viable for practitioners to provide.
“Consumers need access to affordable strategic superannuation advice, which can be delivered through an efficient and effective model, utilising suitably highly qualified professionals with adequate consumer protections in place,” it explained.
In the submission, the professional bodies outlined a proposed solution that involves amending the definition of a tax agent service in section 90-5 of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA).
Under the proposal, qualified accountants who operate under a certificate of public practice and are a registered tax agent would be able to provide simple strategic superannuation advice where they are either:
- Listed in the Register of Relevant Providers as at the date the legislation is passed or within two years
- Accredited as an SMSF specialist adviser by CA ANZ or the SMSF Association
- Meet any SMSF specialist accreditation requirements specified by the Tax Practitioners Board
Practitioners who meet these criteria would be able to provide advice on the following areas:
- Calculating and making a payment of any contribution to an existing superannuation fund or an SMSF
- Establishing a pension and calculating payments in connection with a pension payable from an existing superannuation fund or an SMSF
- Establishing an SMSF
- Winding up an SMSF
The SMSF Association and accounting bodies stressed that they were not looking for a return of the old accountants’ exemption whereby any qualified accountant could advise on superannuation and SMSF issues without additional training and consumer protections.
“This proposal could be achieved either by way of inclusion in legislation, in TASA, or by way of regulations, in TASR, or by way of Legislative Instrument,” the submission stated.
“Whilst a legislative instrument is the most expedient method, inclusion in primary legislation would provide the most certainty. We would also be pleased to consult further on the most appropriate method of enactment.”
The SMSF Association and accounting bodies urged both the Quality of Advice Review and new Labor government to urgently consider its recommendations.
“We ask that suitably qualified accounting professionals with added conditions be able to provide advice in limited specific areas of superannuation without the need for an AFSL, so as to meet existing considerable consumer advice needs,” the submission stated.
In a separate submission to the Quality of Advice Review, a group of accounting bodies, financial planning associations and consumer groups, called the Joint Associations Working Group outlined the need for a more consumer-focused regulatory approach with reduced costs and greater recognition of professional judgement.
The submission explained that current regulatory requirements are confusing, complex, and overwhelming and do not cater for the needs of clients.
It has called for consumer-facing advice documentation requirements to be reviewed to ensure that the advice is meaningful and can be understood by the individual consumer.
It has also recommended a move towards a principles-based regulatory regime that is more consumer-focused, based on recommendations from the Quality of Advice Review and the ALRC review outcomes, and which is tied to the need for professionals to be able to respond and deliver advice aligned to different consumer and client needs.