In media release No 2012/036, issued 23 June 2012, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten, announced a new form of financial advice licence that will significantly increase the availability of financial advice for all Australians.
The new limited Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) is expected to see up to 10,000 accountants become licensed and able to provide a much broader range of financial advice than they were previously able to.
In addition to being able to advise on self-managed superannuation (SMSF) funds and superannuation generally, licence holders will be able to give "class of product advice" on basic deposit products, general and life insurance, securities, and simple managed investment schemes.
"This new licence will extend the consumer protection provisions of the Corporations Act, such as the best interests duty in the recently passed Future of Financial Advice reforms, to financial advice provided by accountants," Mr Shorten said.
Importantly, the new licence does not allow specific product recommendations but is designed to enable accountants and any financial advisers who may hold this licence to provide more strategic and low-cost forms of financial advice.
Mr Shorten also announced a streamlined transition period that will be available for accountants between 1 July 2013 and 1 July 2016. These arrangements will make it easier for accountants to transition into the AFSL regime in recognition of their existing professional qualifications.
"This replacement to the current accountants' licensing exemption is a major step forward and will help to facilitate a significant expansion in the provision of financial advice to Australians," Mr Shorten said.
There will be public consultation on draft regulations to give effect to these measures in the second half of the year.
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