On 17 February 2012, CPA Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants published an open letter in the Australian Financial Review to the Hon. Bill Shorten, Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation.
In April 2010, the Australian Government announced, as part of the Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) reforms, the removal of the accountants’ licensing exemption. The exemption allows professional accountants to recommend opening or closing self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) without the need to hold a licence to provide financial product advice.
Since the announcement, CPA Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants have been engaged in extensive consultations with the Australian Government, Treasury, and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission to implement an appropriate replacement to the accountants’ licensing exemption. The open letter is part of a public awareness campaign to emphasise the important role that professional accountants play in providing independent, professional advice in the community and for more than two million small-to-medium businesses in Australia.
An appropriate solution to the exemption would allow CPA Australia members to continue to provide their clients with the broad strategic advice they demand. It must also ensure our members can maintain their professional independence.
Consultations have now stalled and CPA Australia sees this as a potential sign of a sub-optimal outcome for consumers and an unworkable solution for members.
Open letter to Bill Shorten, MP
Friday, 17 February 2012
The Hon. Bill Shorten MP
Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation,
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
House of Representatives
Canberra ACT 2600
Re: The critical need to give consumers greater access to financial advice
Dear Minister Shorten,
CPA Australia and The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia commend the government’s objectives in respect of the Future of Financial Advice reforms, however it must get the policy settings right in achieving the desired outcomes.
In adopting a suitable replacement to the accountants’ exemption, the government must not limit the capacity of professional accountants to advise clients on financial matters, otherwise it could have a detrimental impact on the ability of consumers in regional and metropolitan areas to access trusted advisors.
We urge you to give full and careful consideration to the financial wellbeing of Australians, and welcome the opportunity to consult further on this vitally important issue.
Alex Malley FCPA
Chief executive officer
Lee White FCA
Chief executive officer
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia