Date posted: 01/02/2023

Chartered Accountants ANZ: Small business support must be a key priority in Federal Budget

The creation of a new fund to help small businesses across Australia access financial advice to plan their future viability is the central plank of Chartered Accountants ANZ’s Pre-Budget Submission lodged with the Federal Government.  

“Small businesses suffered on a number of fronts during the pandemic, and those that were able to survive and thrive are now at a point where they need detailed financial advice,” said Simon Grant FCA, CA ANZ Group Executive Advocacy.  

“Chartered Accountants ANZ is calling on the Federal Government to create a small business grant to ensure small businesses can:  

  • Work with their trusted adviser  
  • Bring business records up to date  
  • Produce a cash flow forecast for at least the next three months, and  
  • Explore the various pathways available to build a sustainable business.  

“Many small business owners have spent the last few years in survival mode and haven’t had the opportunity or funds to engage a financial expert to ensure their business operations are viable.  

“There is a broader economic benefit here too. The earlier a business under financial stress acts, the more likely it can be restructured or administered and retain employees or, if no longer viable, exit with some return to its creditors.  

“May’s Budget will be just under the one-year anniversary of the election of the current Government, and while October’s Budget was more about funding election commitments, this Budget will provide a great insight into short and long-term priorities.  

“Chartered Accountants ANZ is also asking the Government to take a systematic look into the provision of financial advice more generally as it's currently very difficult for an accountant to provide the advice that a business needs, despite their qualifications.  

“The cost of providing financial advice in Australia is excessive. As a result, many consumers who would benefit from receiving advice are priced out of the market. Some product providers or advisers reduce costs by restricting their services to wholesale or sophisticated investors.  

“Under the current regulatory environment accountants who do not hold an Australian Financial Services License are being asked to navigate a very fine line where one wrong step means they could stray into providing unlicensed advice and may be subject to substantial penalties.  

“It is both unfair and inefficient for the regulatory environment to create such uncertainty and we ask the government to commence work on fixing this problem as soon as possible.  

“In fact, a survey released by Chartered Accountants ANZ in 2020 found that Australians are more likely to seek financial advice from family and friends around a barbeque or dinner table than seek the help of a professional adviser.  

“The report found that as people get older, and the need for advice transitions from tax and mortgage to planning for retirement, the importance and value placed on professional financial advice increases.  

“While family and friends are considered a good source of advice, accountants are viewed as the most competent and trustworthy - above other professions, including bankers and lawyers, but it's too difficult for them to provide that advice under current regulations.  

“Another feature of our Pre-Budget Submission this year is for the Government to continue to be vigilant in informing businesses about cyber security and how easy it is to fall victim to cyber-crime.  

“Recent high-profile events have highlighted the importance of cyber security for all Australians and business operators, and how far reaching the damage can be.  

“The Budget should fund a marketing campaign, at least annually, to raise community awareness of the excellent, free tools and resources produced by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to encourage cyber security practices.  

“Chartered Accountants ANZ is also looking forward to seeing tax reform measures in the Budget; a national discussion on the need for carefully designed, staged, broad-based expenditure and tax reforms is needed. All expenditures and taxes should be up for discussion."  

The Budget should address the following key tax issues of immediate concern to our members:  

  • Announced but unenacted measures – a status update is required addressing the measures not covered in the October 2022 Budget. 
  • International tax measures starting 1 July 2023 – there is an urgent need to publish draft legislation and ATO guidance and commence consultations.  
  • Board of Taxation Reviews – publish completed reports and the Government’s response to recommendations.  
  • The Treasurer and Minister for Small Business should publish the draft strategy of the ATO and other agencies for digital transformation of small business operations.  

“As always, Chartered Accountants ANZ looks forward to open dialogue with the Government and Treasury on the expansion of these ideas and how best to implement key policy initiatives for the broader good of the economy,” Simon Grant said.  

Pre-budget submission 2023-24 

Read our main comments and download the submission.

Read more