IPA pushes for return of accounting exemption
The Institute of Public Accountants has asked members for feedback around advocating for a return of the ‘accountants’ exemption’ to provide financial advice related to self-managed superannuation.
IPA chief executive Andrew Conway said members recently have been asking them to take the issue of the removal of the accountants’ exemption up with the government.
He said the IPA has always maintained that it will act in the best interests of members, and that the principle at play here is ensuring Australians have access to affordable financial advice.
“The capacity of an accountant to provide advice on self-managed superannuation funds has long been held as not being a systemic risk to the integrity of the financial services system,” Mr Conway said.
“We will engage with members over the next week to inform our advocacy and representation to the Minister to ensure our views are heard. I would encourage any member of the IPA or any other practitioner to make contact with me if they wish to make their views known.”
Ever since the accountants’ exemption was removed on 1 July 2016, Mr Conway believed some Australians have simply opted out of advice altogether, saying it “may ultimately place their financial future at risk”.
Further, he said trusted accountants have simply been hamstrung, unable to respond to clients’ questions, particularly around superannuation.
“The public rely on their annual interaction with their accountant to finalise their tax affairs and seek guidance on issues which unfortunately is now considered financial advice as part of this process,” Mr Conway said.
“Without this guidance many will receive no financial advice at all for important matters such as retirement planning.”
Mr Conway noted that before the Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) reforms became law, less than one in five Australians had any interaction with a financial planner.
He said FoFA has failed to achieve its policy objective of making financial advice affordable, and removing accountants from providing any assistance has made the situation worse.
“As trusted advisers, accountants can play an important role in helping clients manage their financial affairs and revisiting the accountant’s exemption is paramount to restoring access to basic financial advice,” Mr Conway said.
“Seventy per cent of the population and 95 per cent of all businesses have a trusted accountant behind them and denying them access to any guidance is not in the public interest.”