Providing superannuation services

Limitations apply on the superannuation services and advice CAs can provide if they do not operate under an Australian Financial Services Licence

In brief

  • As of 1 July 2016 CAs need to operate under an AFSL to provide an opinion or recommend the setup or wind up of an SMSF
  • Traditional advice and services including audits of SMSFs and tax advice don't require an AFSL
  • Detailed guidance on what services CAs can and cannot provide if not operating under an AFSL

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“Accountants exemption” removed – what does this mean?

Under Regulation 7.1.29A of the Corporations Regulation 2001 accountants were permitted to provide advice on the establishment of self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) without the need to hold or operate under an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL). This was referred to as the "Accountants' Exemption"

However this has changed effective 1 July 2016.

From this date your firm will need to operate under an Australian Financial Services Licence (ASFL) – either your own licence, or a licence belonging to a third party, in order to establish a new fund, or wind down an existing SMSF. This includes the provision of related advice such as whether your clients should make additional super contributions while they are in the workforce, and advice related to starting a pension.

Importantly, other exemptions under Regulation 7.1.29 of the Corporations Act remain unchanged, ensuring that professional accounting services including compliance and audit services, tax advice related to financial products and broad asset allocation advice can continue to be provided in respect of SMSFs and superannuation.

As a guide, an AFSL licence is not necessary for your firm to provide advice regarding a SMSF's compliance status. Similarly your firm can continue to audit super fund accounts, offer tax advice and provide broad advice relating to a super fund's asset allocation without an AFSL.

What services can your firm offer?

There are a wide range of activities your firm can undertake with super funds even if you don’t operate under an AFSL.

As a guide, your firm won’t need an AFSL to advise clients on:

Certain matters relating to superannuation including advice regarding:

  • Tax implications relating to personal super contributions (subject to complying with conditions in Regulation 7.1.29)
  • An employer’s obligations under the Superannuation Guarantee - such as explaining what is meant by “choice of funds” and suggesting ways an employer can offer choice to employees.
  • Compliance for SMSFs and other superannuation funds (subject to conditions)

Super-related audit activity:

  • Conducting compliance audits of SMSFs and other super funds.
  • Advising clients if they are likely to breach, or have breached, the legal requirements governing super funds. It may be necessary to seek advice from a lawyer if problems are noted here.
  • Advising clients whether their fund trust deed complies with superannuation legislation.

Broad asset allocation advice on assets

  • An ASFL is not needed to have broad discussions with your clients about how their super assets are allocated across different investments - though your firm cannot recommend particular products or classes of financial products.

Establishing super funds

  • An AFSL is not necessary if you are helping a client with the process of establishing a SMSF based on the recommendation of a licensed financial planner.

Members are strongly encouraged to familiarise themselves with Reg 7.1.29 and 7.1.33A to ensure they have a clear understanding of what advice can and cannot be provided under these regulations.

Members in public practice in Australia are also encouraged to refer to our guide, Financial Advice and Regulations: Guidance for the accounting profession, which outlines what services you can and cannot provide if you do not hold or operate under an AFSL, and provides some guidance on operating under a limited AFSL.

Download our guide

Financial Advice and Regulations: Guidance for the accounting professional (PDF 1.5MB)

Read guide

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