In addition to the CPA Australia By-Laws, a public practitioner may be required to satisfy a number of licensing requirements and other regulations when conducting public accounting services, depending on the services offered.

Separate licensing or registration requirements must be met where a practitioner intends to practise in New Zealand as:
  • an accountant
  • a tax adviser
  • an auditor
  • a liquidator or trustee in bankruptcy
  • a financial adviser and financial service provider.

Understanding your obligations in these areas will assist you in identifying the appropriate criteria you need to meet in order to provide the services you wish to offer as a practitioner.

Accountants

The regulation of the accounting profession has been through a period of change to allow the profession to be more efficient and effective. The principal changes:

  • amend the rules as to who may perform statutory audits
  • replace references to “chartered accountant” in legislation with “qualified statutory accountant” or “qualified auditor”
  • allow audit firms to incorporate
  • introduce a requirement for the independent assurance of the financial statements of large and medium-sized charities.

Qualified auditors and statutory accountants are required to be members of an accredited body. A qualified statutory accountant means a person who is either a chartered accountant or a member of an accredited body (other than the Institute) who holds the full professional designation of that body, for example, a certified practising accountant. An accredited body is a body that is granted accreditation, or is treated as having been granted accreditation, under the Auditor Regulation Act 2011.

A CPA Australia membership enables practitioners to perform a range of audits including Financial Market Conduct audits in New Zealand in certain cases.

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Tax advisers

New Zealand does not require registration of tax advisers. However, tax practitioners often choose to register with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) as tax agents, which allows them an extension of time for filing their clients’ tax returns and to receive standard communications from Inland Revenue.

Most professional tax advisers are either accountants or lawyers and are members of their respective professional societies. If tax advisers provide financial advice, they are covered by the Financial Advisers Act 2011.

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Auditors

The audit profession in New Zealand is primarily regulated by the Auditor Regulation Act 2011.

The requirements for auditors who carry out audits of Financial Market Conduct (FMC) reporting entities are covered by the legislation. FMC reporting entities include:

  • issuers of regulated products
  • listed issuers
  • banks
  • insurers
  • credit unions
  • building societies.

The legislation requires every natural person who carries out an FMC audit to hold a licence that authorises the person to act as an auditor for that kind of FMC audit. Audit firms must also be registered and must contain a licensed auditor. An audit firm cannot accept an engagement or appointment to act as the auditor of an FMC audit unless it is a registered audit firm. If an audit firm is engaged or appointed to act as the auditor for an FMC audit, the audit firm must ensure that each engagement partner or director is a licensed auditor whose licence authorises them to act as the auditor in respect of that kind of FMC audit.

If an audit firm that is a partnership is engaged or appointed to act as the auditor for an FMC audit, each partner of the audit firm who is a licensed auditor and whose licence authorises him or her to act as the auditor for that kind of FMC audit will be regarded as acting as the auditor for the FMC audit.

A licensed auditor means a person who holds, or is treated as holding, a licence issued by an accredited body or the Financial Market Authority (FMA). The FMA oversees the licensing regime and prescribes the requirements for the licensing and registration of auditors. It is also responsible for implementing and maintaining adequate and effective audit regulatory systems, which includes regular quality reviews of every registered audit firm and licensed auditor.

The FMA is empowered to grant accreditation to persons and bodies that it is satisfied are fit and proper. The FMA has accredited CPA Australia to license auditors who carry out issuer audits in New Zealand.

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Liquidators and trustees in bankruptcy

In an insolvency, accountants or a person who keeps the creditor’s or bankrupt’s accounts can represent creditors or the bankrupt at a creditors’ meeting. Accountants are permitted to act as receivers and liquidators. Anyone may be appointed an administrator of a company, although an accountant will usually be appointed.

An administrator can be appointed by the company, the liquidator or interim liquidator, a secured creditor or the court. While a company is in administration, the administrator has control of the company’s business, property and affairs. The administrator may carry on the business of the company and manage its property and affairs. The administrator may terminate or dispose of all or part of the business, or property; and may perform any function, and exercise any power, that the company or any of its officers could perform or exercise if the company were not in administration.

The Insolvency Practitioners Bill is currently making its way through Parliament. The Bill creates powers to restrict or prohibit individuals from providing insolvency services and strengthens measures to automatically disqualify insolvency practitioners. The Bill also seeks to introduce a core regulatory licensing framework under a new stand-alone Act. If enacted, this could be a significant change for insolvency practitioners.

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Financial advisers

A financial adviser is an individual who performs a financial adviser service. Someone gives financial advice when they make a recommendation or give an opinion or guidance in relation to acquiring or disposing of a financial product. An authorised financial adviser is an individual who is registered and authorised by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA).

Financial advisers are regulated by the provisions of the Financial Advisers Act 2008. The responsibility of overseeing this legislation rests with the FMA.

The legislation aims to protect investors by requiring that financial advisers be competent. This requirement is intended to ensure that the financial advisers available to investors and consumers have the experience, expertise and integrity to match a person effectively to a financial product that best meets that person’s need and risk profile. The Act also aims to ensure that financial advisers are held accountable for any financial advice that they give. The Act requires financial advisers to manage conflicts of interest appropriately.

A code governs authorised financial advisers as well as providing a basis for discipline. It details the minimum standards of adviser competence, knowledge and experience, ethical conduct and client care and lays down guidelines for continuing professional development and specifies standards for the various classes of authorised financial advisers.

Qualified financial accountants are not defined as financial advisers and are not required to comply with the provisions of the legislation.

Financial advice given by an accountant, who is not qualified statutory accountant, in the course of that person’s professional practice, is not normally exempt from the need to comply with the requirements. There is an exemption only if that advice given by an accountant is a necessary incident of professional accounting advice. Even there the implementation of the code requires accountants to undertake further training.

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