In media release No 2013/011, issued 27 February 2013, the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, announced that the next step in enabling accountants to offer a wider range of services through regulations, to replace the accountants' licensing exemption with a limited Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL), will take place with the finalisation of the regulations in April 2013.
The limited AFSL will enable licence holders to provide more strategic advice to their clients. Licence holders will be able to provide advice on self-managed superannuation funds as the accountants' exemption currently provides for, plus licensees will be licensed to provide advice on "class of product advice" on basic deposit products, general and life insurance, securities, and simple managed investment schemes. The new licence will be open to accountants and other financial practitioners.
In addition to better access to financial advice, the new regime will require licensees to provide advice in accordance with the consumer protection provisions of the Corporations Act including the best interests duty obligation enacted through the FOFA reforms.
A streamlined application process will apply from 1 July 2013 to 1 July 2016 to make it easier for accountants to transition into the AFSL regime in recognition of their existing professional qualifications. Consideration will also be given to other professional organisations accessing the streamlined process.