The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) has today announced that it is seeking member feedback on advocating for a return of the ‘accountants’ exemption’ to provide financial advice related to self-managed superannuation.

“Since the accountant’s exemption was removed on 1 July 2016, we believe some Australians have simply opted out of advice altogether which may ultimately place their financial future at risk,” said IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway.

“Simply, trusted accountants have been hamstrung, unable to respond to clients’ questions, particularly around superannuation.

“The public rely on their annual interaction with their accountant to finalise their tax affairs and seek guidance on issues which unfortunately is now considered financial advice as part of this process.

“Without this guidance many will receive no financial advice at all for important matters such as retirement planning. Before Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) became law less than 1 in 5 had any interaction with a financial planner.

“FoFA has failed to achieve its policy objective of making financial advice affordable and removing accountants from providing any assistance has made the situation worse.

“As trusted advisers accountants can play an important role in helping clients manage their financial affairs and revisiting the accountant’s exemption is paramount to restoring access to basic financial advice.

“Seventy per cent of the population and ninety five per cent of all businesses have a trusted accountant behind them and denying them access to any guidance is not in the public interest.

“We have always maintained that we will act in member’s best interests, and recently members have been asking us to take the issue of the removal of ‘accountant’s exemption’ up with the Government.

“The principle at play here is ensuring Australians have access to affordable financial advice.

“The capacity of an accountant to provide advice on self-managed superannuation funds has long been held as not being a systemic risk to the integrity of the financial services system.

“We will engage with members over the next week to inform our advocacy and representation to the Minister to ensure our views are heard. I would encourage any member of the IPA or any other practitioner to make contact with me if they wish to make their views known,” said Mr Conway.