Accountants grateful but baffled by inequitable ASIC fee relief

30 August 2021

Australia’s professional accounting bodies are grateful for the temporary ASIC fee relief for financial advisers announced today by the Federal Government. However, we can’t understand why other parts of the accounting profession, which have also been hit by steep fee increases, have been ignored.

CPA Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and the Institute of Public Accountants are urging the government to extend this relief to all financial services participants, not just financial advisers. This will provide widespread regulatory certainty while the profession awaits the review of the ASIC Industry Funding Model, also announced today.

ASIC fees for financial advisers have increased by more than 230 per cent over the past three years. Most financial advisers are sole traders or small businesses and cannot afford these rising costs. The total number of financial advisers now sits at just over 19,000, a loss of more than 2000 since November 2020.

Restoring ASIC fees to their 2018-19 level for the next two years comes as welcome relief for financial advisers. This decision will directly improve business viability and adviser retention rates. These are issues which also severely impact other financial services participants.

Registered company auditors, for example, have seen their registration fee quadruple in a short period of time. In 2021, the individual levy for a registered company auditor rose to $811 from $208 in 2020. This comes at a time when auditor numbers are declining. Insolvency practitioners are charged ASIC industry fees at a flat rate of $2,500 per year and then per ‘notifiable event’. This structure makes it hard to precisely quantify ASIC fee increases. The professional accounting bodies are nonetheless aware that insolvency practitioners are finding rising fees debilitating and difficult to budget for. Today’s announcement recognises the debilitating impact that ASIC industry fees are having on the profession and acknowledges the government’s role in controlling fee increases. It doesn’t make sense to discriminate between participants by granting relief to some while ignoring others.

We look forward to the review of the ASIC industry fee model in 2022 and will actively participate in the consultation process. It will be important for this review to examine the impact of ASIC industry fees on all participants.