Accountants and auditors come under ASIC's 17/18 spotlight
ASIC has published its business plan for the current financial year, outlining its renewed compliance focus on accountants and auditors, as well as their role in illegal phoenix activity.
ASIC’s business plan follows its corporate plan, which is a four-year rolling plan aimed at explaining the corporate regulator’s strategy in achieving its vision of “what good looks like”.
Continuing on from its 16/17 plan, ASIC will continue its crackdown on accountants who have entered the financial advice industry and are providing unlicensed financial advice.
Accountants who are in the SMSF space will also be reviewed for their “legal compliance with their best interest duty in providing advice to consumers who set up an SMSF”.
Auditors will also be subject to checks on their audit quality, with focus on asset values, revenue recognition, firm culture, sufficient audit evidence, application of professional scepticism and use of experts.
Large audit firms will be particularly under surveillance to ensure quality does not drop due to the volume of work.
ASIC will also be prioritising the independence and remuneration of registered liquidators, using its new ILRA powers to investigate and take action on issues including liquidators’ relationships with pre-insolvency advisers, liquidators who may be at a higher risk due to undertaking a high volume of appointments, and inadequate amount disclosure.
The corporate regulator’s focus follows its previously stated intention to combat illegal phoenix activity, with ASIC set to issue regulatory guidance about director and company obligations as part of a new project for the year.
Directors of companies in financial distress with a history of involvement in failed companies where allegations of phoenix activity will also be under surveillance by ASIC.
Facilitators - pre-insolvency advisors and register liquidators - will also come under the microscope, with ASIC planning on disrupting the facilitation of illegal phoenix activity through collusion between them and directors.