Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten, today announced the next step in enabling accountants to offer a wider range of services through regulations to replace the accountants’ licensing exemption with a limited Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL).
After feedback from industry on the draft regulations in late 2012, the Government today announced that it will finalise the regulations in April 2013.
Addressing the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Parramatta with Federal Member Julie Owens, Mr Shorten said this reform is a major step forward in delivering affordable financial advice and improving consumers’ confidence in the financial industry.
“These regulations are an important part of the Gillard Government’s Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms and delivers on the Government’s commitment to expand access to financial advice and to increase consumer protection,” Mr Shorten said.
Ms Owens said the local community in Parramatta has benefited from the pro-bono work the Institute of Chartered Accountants has been doing.
“I know that many local community groups benefit from the advice of Institute of Chartered Accountants members on their committees, donating their time and expertise to worthwhile causes”, Ms Owens said.
The limited AFSL will enable licence holders to provide more strategic advice to their clients. Licence holders will be able to provide advice on self‑managed superannuation funds as the accountants’ exemption currently provides for, plus licensees will be licensed to provide advice on "class of product advice" on basic deposit products, general and life insurance, securities, and simple managed investment schemes. The new licence will be open to accountants and other financial practitioners.
In addition to better access to financial advice, the new regime will require licensees to provide advice in accordance with the consumer protection provisions of the Corporations Act including the best interests duty obligation enacted through the FOFA reforms.
A streamlined application process will apply from 1 July 2013 to 1 July 2016 to make it easier for accountants to transition into the AFSL regime in recognition of their existing professional qualifications. Consideration will also be given to other professional organisations accessing the streamlined process.
Mr Shorten’s Media Contact: Jessica Lindell 0408 642 804
Ms Owens’ Office: 02 9689 1455