The announcement of the replacement of the accountant’s exemption has grabbed much of this week’s headlines, but for SMSF approved auditors, the release of the ASIC registration requirements provided some much-needed guidance around minimum levels of competency and the costs of registration. For those auditing more than 20 funds, there was a reprieve from having to sit an exam, with this minimum number seen as the base competency level required continue to operate in sector. This direct pathway into the ASIC framework for some must come as a huge relief!! However, for those auditing less than 20 funds, the exam creates an interesting challenge for those who have previously ‘dabbled’ in the sector.
As you can see from the table below, published in the latest ATO SMSF Statistical Summary (2009-10), more than 50% of current approved auditors are going to need to sit a competency exam to continue to work as an approved auditor from 1 July 2013.
The issue here won’t be cost, with a $100 registration fee and a $50 ongoing fee when submitting their annual statement. For those that have to sit the exam, a further $100 fee will apply. Less than the cost of one audit (for most)!! The challenge will be whether many practitioners currently auditing SMSFs have the necessary skills around audit and SIS compliance to continue to operate in the new regulatory environment. Recent ATO research into SMSF auditors conducted by Colmar Brunton Social Research, showed a very high likelihood of the more than 11,000 auditors would move into the ASIC regime.
With registrations to start from 31 January 2013, many existing auditors (and aspiring approved auditors) need to think about getting themselves ready for the new framework from 1 July 2013. For those becoming serious about forging a career in the SMSF sector, the exam may just be the start moving into a specialist SMSF role.
What are your thoughts on the auditor requirements? Should everybody have been required to sit an exam? Is 20 funds too low? I’d love to hear your thoughts!!