There is no doubt that the introduction of Limited Licensing has brought its fair share of challenges for accountants. As we are more than a year into the regime and the dust is starting to settle, we thought it was timely to explore the issues these licensed accountants are grappling with.
So at our Limited Licence Workshops, we asked attendees what their top challenges were. Here is a summary of their top 5.
Resources is quite general and when we asked about this, there did seem to be a general concern about a range of resources including human, time and money.
The concern didn’t seem to be so much with providing the advice, but more with the time, cost and people needed to manage the licence. It will be interesting to see if this concern rates as highly in 12 months time. I suspect the resource drain will reduce significantly now that the initial set up is largely complete.
2. Understanding and working within the licence limitations
A lot of time and resources have been spent educating accountants on when licensing is needed. In fact, our induction program has a dedicated webinar and section to address this.
Now that accountants are into the world of licensing, they want and need to understand when their licence stops, just as much as when it starts. Some limitations are easy (eg: recommending a specific investment), however it is less clear cut when talking about superannuation and in particular, a client’s existing fund(s).
3. Extracting the value from licensing
As with any new regime, the accountants spent the first 12 months understanding when an SOA is needed, and what needs to be included. Now that those basic concepts are in hand, it’s no real surprise that there was a clear shift at recent workshops from questions around the mechanics of providing licensed advice to the value.
Unlike some of the other challenges, I suspect this one will remain for some time to come as accountants first need to believe in the value of advice themselves before they will be able to sell it to their clients.
4. Client expectations
This challenge is somewhat unique to accountants (as opposed to new advisers) who have been interacting with their clients in a particular way for a long time – in some cases decades.
By the end of the workshops, most accountants accepted that they needed to change their client expectations. The question was HOW?
I’m no marketing expert, but I suspect the answer would be slowly!
5. The compliance burden
Last but by no means least was the compliance burden. Having assisted hundreds of firms with their initial compliance set up, I would have been shocked if this challenge didn’t make the list.
I believe the initial compliance burden is not a good gauge on what can be expected on an ongoing basis, the challenge will be for accountants to involve the right resources and support, so this does not become too onerous.
To counter the challenges, at these same workshops, accountants also came up with their top tips to make licensing work, which we’ll share in our next article.