ASIC issues warning to accountants

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When the 'accountants' exemption' expires on 1 July 2016, accountants will be breaking the law if they provide advice on SMSFs without a valid licence, ASIC has warned.

In an statement released to the market yesterday, the corporate regulator issued a warning to accountants who provide advice on SMSFs are yet to apply to an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL).

"From 1 July 2016, accountants must hold a limited AFSL or be an authorised representative of a licence-holder or licensee in order to provide financial product advice on self-managed superannuation funds," said ASIC.


This follows a three-year transition period that commenced on 1 July 2013, said ASIC.

"On 25 August 2015, ASIC issued a media release warning accountants wishing to apply for a limited AFSL that failure to lodge applications in line with ASIC’s requirements by 1 March 2016 would result in a significant risk that their application would not be assessed and approved by 30 June 2016," said the regulator.

"ASIC is now writing to applicants for limited AFSLs who have applied since 1 March 2016 advising them that they should prepare for the contingency that their applications may not be assessed and approved by ASIC by 30 June 2016."

ASIC senior executive leader for assessments and intelligence, Warren Day, said any accountant found to be providing unlicensed advice after 30 June 2016 risked "regulatory action".

"Providing unlicensed financial services is a criminal offence," Mr Day said.

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