Prior to 1 July 2016, accountants were able to provide advice in relation to superannuation products including the appropriateness of self-managed superannuation funds for retirement planning. Much of this advice revolved around the taxation concessions that could be achieved by making concessional and non-concessional contributions that would contribute to wealth creation.

We have never been able to provide specific investment product or insurance advice. Even class of product advice i.e. investing in real property, shares, managed funds etc was restricted to the relative tax concessions of each product rather than investment returns.

Nevertheless, our ability to advise on these matters without strict license requirements and documentation has been removed with effect from 1 July 2016. There were several choices available for us to be able to continue providing advice on these matters. We could have operated under a licensed financial planner or a full financial licence holder or obtain our own limited license.

To ensure complete privacy of your sensitive information and to continue to provide the same level of service as previously, we decided to obtain our own limited license.

This involved the firm’s Directors obtaining additional Post Graduate Diploma qualifications and investing in computer software and templates that would enable us to provide the appropriate written investment advice that will comply with strict ASIC requirements.

The result of these requirements is that, when providing you with advice on superannuation contributions, pensions and associated matters, we will be required to provide you with a written Statement of Advice (SOA) that will set out the scope of the advice and any limitations. This will come at an additional cost, which will be agreed with you before we proceed.

Even under our own licence, we will not be able to provide you with specific product advice or advice on insurance. We can, however, provide advice on class of product as our software will be able to compare investment returns under various scenarios. This will include a comparison of returns from retail superannuation funds with returns from your proposed investments under a self-managed superannuation fund.

We cannot stress enough how important it is that we comply with the new requirements. They have been put in place to protect you from making inappropriate financial decisions by not taking into account all the relevant considerations.

We can, of course, continue to supply you with strictly factual information such as that contained in the previous news story. However, as soon as we provide advice specific to your circumstances, an SOA will be required.