ASIC has released Information Sheet INFO216, which summarises the AFS licensing requirements for accountants who are providing services to self-managed superannuation funds.

With the significant changes to superannuation announced as part of the 2016 Budget now law, this is a timely reminder that accountants who provide advice to clients on superannuation issues must either be covered by an AFSL or limit the advice and services they provide to ensure they are not in breach of the Corporations Act.

Given the complexity of the new rules and their wide ranging impact (particularly the application of the transfer balance caps), this area will be extremely high risk for accountants assisting SMSF clients in revising their superannuation arrangements, including their pension and estate planning strategies.

For example, accountants will need to be covered by an AFSL if they provide advice on:

  • stopping a transition to retirement income stream;
  • converting a transition to retirement income stream to an account based pension;
  • commuting part of an existing pension back to accumulation phase or as a lump sum; or
  • starting a new account based pension.

Many clients will need advice on these issues in 2017 and beyond to deal with the 2016 Budget changes to the superannuation system. It will also be quite easy for regulators like ASIC to detect as the client’s circumstances will have changed with a very obvious paper trail (for example tax returns).

This is not a complete list. Accountants who are not covered by an AFSL must be very careful as to what they say or do to help clients.