An accountant wanting to provide self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) advice services after 30 June 2016:
Alternatively, an accountant may become an authorised representative of another AFS licensee. In this case, the accountant would give advice under the supervision of that licensee.
As part of the Future of Financial Advice (or FOFA) reforms, the 'accountants' exemption' has been repealed and will cease to operate on 1 July 2016. From this date, accountants will only be able to continue to provide SMSF advice and related services if they are licensed to do so under an AFS licence.
A full AFS licence enables the holder to give financial advice across various areas, including SMSFs. The new and less burdensome limited AFS licence effectively provides an authorisation to give superannuation advice (including SMSF advice) and other financial services which can be broader than those currently allowed under the accountants' exemption. The limited AFS licence was introduced on 1 July 2013.2
The limited licence is available to anyone — not just accountants. However, 'recognised accountants' who apply before 30 June 2016 benefit from entering the AFS licensing regime under the transitional arrangements. Those arrangements:
Those issued with a limited AFS licence under transitional arrangements will need to comply with a condition that they can demonstrate to ASIC within three years (if required by ASIC) that they have knowledge of their obligations under the Act and Regulations, and are competent to provide the services covered by the limited AFS licence.
However, accountants will need to act now in order to benefit from the transitional arrangements. If they do not submit their application for a limited AFS licence by 30 June 2016 then, like other applicants, the accountant will need to demonstrate in detail their specific relevant experience and expertise in providing the financial product advice and other financial services they propose to provide under the licence.
The other standard requirements for the grant of an AFS licence will also need to be met regardless of whether the applicant qualifies for the transitional arrangements. These include requirements that the applicant is of good fame and character, has the financial resources to provide the services proposed and has adequate risk management systems.
The holder of a limited AFS licence can be authorised to provide:
Accountants can specify which financial services and products they want covered by their limited AFS licence in their application. The final authorisations provided could include one or a combination of the above services.
Importantly, responsible managers must be able to demonstrate that they have appropriate training in the licence authorisations that their accounting firm applies for. Some accountants will therefore need to complete some training before the application is lodged with ASIC.
Applications for a limited AFS licence can be made to ASIC via its online application system. Accountants wishing to take advantage of the transitional arrangements will need to act now to ensure they have enough time to prepare the application.
ASIC has advised that applications that are in good order and contain all the necessary information and documents should be assessed within four weeks. However, those that require the applicant to supply further details or information to ASIC will take longer.
Despite these stated timeframes, applicants should expect that there could be delays in ASIC's processing due to a large number of accountants applying at the same time. It is therefore best to apply as early as possible. ASIC advises that applicants should submit their application by 1 March 2016 if they want their application to be processed in time for the 1 July deadline.
The Cleardocs Limited AFS Licence Application package provides the essential documents that ASIC requires and step-by-step guidance on the application process.
Stay on top of the never ending changes affecting superannuation with the following resources from Thomson Reuters: The Essential SMSF Guide and the Australian Superannuation Handbook. Available in book, ebook and online.
For more information, contact Maddocks on (03) 9258 3555 and ask to speak to a member of the Commercial team.
You can read earlier ClearLaw articles on a range of topics.
 Regulation 7.1.29A
 Introduced under Regulation 7.6.01BA
Leigh is a partner in the Maddocks Tax & Revenue team.
Leigh regularly provides advice on:
His advice covers both direct and indirect tax considerations.
Leigh advises Australian and multinational companies, high net worth individuals, accountants and financial advisers on all areas of taxation law.
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For more information, contact Maddocks on (03) 9258 3555 and ask to speak to a member of their team.