Do you need to be licensed?

On 1 July 2016 the accountants' exemption was repealed.

Recognised Accountants can no longer recommend the establishment or winding up of a self-managed superannuation fund unless they are appropriately licensed.

Superannuation - Do you need to be licensed? (PDF) provides guidance on what superannuation advice and services require you to be licensed.

What has changed?

Regulation 7.1.29A of the Corporations Regulations 2001 previously permitted a Recognised Accountant to recommend a client to establish or wind up an interest in a SMSF without being licensed under the Australian Financial Services (AFS) licensing regime.

That accountants' exemption was repealed on 1 July 2016.

If you recommend a client establishes or winds up an SMSF without being appropriately licensed you will be in breach of the law and could be liable for significant penalties. This includes the provision of related advice, such as a recommendation to commence a pension or make additional superannuation contributions. You will also risk your professional membership and may not be covered by your Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) policy.

The penalties for providing unlicensed financial product advice include up to two years' imprisonment or a fine of $36,000 for individuals or $180,000 for companies.

What are your options?

ASIC has warned accountants that from Friday 1 July 2016 they must hold a limited Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence or be an authorised representative of an AFS licensee to provide financial product advice on self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs).

Your options include:

Become licensed
Apply for and obtain your own limited (or full) AFS licence, noting you will need to meet the experience requirements. You must advise CPA Australia of your AFS licence details. If you have not notified us please contact finplan@cpaaustralia.com.au to supply a copy of your licence.

Become authorised
Become an authorised representative of another entity's AFS licence. Considerations when selecting an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licensee (PDF) provides guidance on the key factors to consider and questions to ask any potential AFS licensee as well as help you to select a potential licensee.

Refer clients
Refer clients who require financial product advice to an appropriately licensed entity or individual (this can include joint venture arrangements). Financial advice and regulations: Guidance for the accounting profession (PDF) provides detailed information for members on what advice and services can be provided without being licensed under the AFS licensing regime. In addition a complimentary webinar recording provides guidance on what advice and services you can provide.