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TPB Financial Advisers Forum Report 23 June 2015

TPB Financial advisers forum report – 23 June 2015

On Tuesday 23 June 2015, Ian Taylor (Chair) and Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) colleagues held a TPB financial adviser forum in Melbourne with representatives from associations that have an interest in financial planning.

The key points discussed at the forum are summarised below. This brief report is intended only to provide an overview of the issues that were discussed and does not represent the final views of the TPB, nor is it intended as minutes of the forum.

Update from the TPB

The following was noted during the overview provided:

  • As at end of May 2015, there were 15,547 registered tax (financial) advisers - comprising of 688 Australian financial service (AFS) licensees and 14,859 authorised representatives. The TPB is continuing to receive a small but steady number of applications from AFS licensees and authorised representatives. Overall, the notification process has worked well.
  • The TPB will also consider the issue of interactions between the TPB’s public register of tax practitioners and data.gov.au, and report back to the forum as appropriate.
  • One of the TPB’s current key priorities is to ensure operational readiness in the lead up to the transitional and standard registration phases commencing from 1 January 2016.
  • A range of material continues to be developed, with finalised documents including:
    • TPB (I) 24/2015: Relevant experience for tax (financial) advisers (for the purpose of explaining the relevant experience requirements to register as a tax (financial) adviser under the standard registration option)
    • TPB (I) 25/2015: Sufficient experience to be able to provide tax (financial) advice services to a competent standard (for the purpose of explaining ‘sufficient experience’ and ‘competent standard’ for registering as a tax (financial) adviser during the transitional period).
    • Website documents outlining ongoing eligibility requirements for recognised associations and some examples of the types of evidence that may demonstrate they are being met.
    • eNews, including an inaugural tailored tax (financial) adviser edition in May 2015.
  • The TPB has also applied to extend coverage of the Registered agent symbol to tax (financial) advisers (registered under the standard option), noting that this is subject to external approvals. If and when approved, an appropriate implementation and communications strategy will be developed.
  • Usability testing findings are informing the work being undertaken to improve the TPB website and online forms, for the purpose of enhancing the end-user experience, with relevant consideration given to structure, presentation, location and content.
  • It was also observed that the Regulator Performance Framework (RPF) commences in July 2015, requiring Commonwealth regulators to report on how they are performing against key performance indicators for the purpose of assessing one aspect of regulatory performance (concerning the administration of regulation). It was noted that annual self-assessment reports will be published on the TPB website and that relevant information will also be referenced in the TPB Annual report.

Communications update

  • In the lead up to 1 January 2016, communication activities will be expanded to reach representatives (including employees, directors and other individuals), as well as AFS licensees and authorised representatives. A mix of communication activities is being employed, including:
    • continuing consultation (including through stakeholder meetings and broader consultation via exposure drafts for public comment)
    • delivering TPB webinars, including in relation to transitional and standard registration and the obligations of registered tax (financial) advisers under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA)
    • possible face-to-face information sessions in Melbourne and Sydney CBD for tax (financial) advisers and those determining the need to register
    • explanatory information and guidance on the TPB website, including providing a registration kit
    • information sharing, including via ASIC and ATO channels, business.gov.au and via industry association communications channels and speaking opportunities
    • updates and Q&A sessions via www.twitter.com/TPB_gov_au and the TPB LinkedIn page
    • video guidance via www.youtube.com/TPBgov
    • media releases and articles for industry publications
    • encouraging financial advisers to register for TPB eNews and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as subscribing to be informed of updates to the TPB website.
  • Objectives include raising awareness among financial advisers of the need to register with the TPB if they are providing tax (financial) advice services for a fee or other reward, and to clearly communicate who does not need to register and who may need to register (and how they can). In particular, it was reiterated that while employee representatives will be able to register from 1 January 2016, they will only be required to register if:
    • charging a fee for the work they are doing; or
    • where they need to register for the purpose of meeting the sufficient number requirement for either an AFS licensee or authorised representative who will be required to renew registration (at the point their notification period expires).
  • The TPB appreciates the support provided by associations in communicating key messages and welcomes suggestions for the purpose of facilitating effective reach and engagement with representatives. It was also reiterated that the TPB is keen to be involved in opportunities to participate in relevant association conferences and speaking events on pertinent topics.

Professional practice matters

Code of Professional Conduct item 6 – Confidentiality of client information

  • The forum noted an initial iteration of a pre-exposure draft paper for the purpose of assisting the TPB to provide guidance to tax (financial) advisers in relation to obligations under subsection 30-10(6) of the TASA (Code Item 6), which is one of the obligations under the TASA’s Code of Professional Conduct (Code).
  • A number of comments and suggestions were made for the purpose of providing further clarity and guidance, with the TPB to make further changes prior to seeking additional feedback and releasing any exposure draft for wider public comment.

Code of Professional Conduct (Code) items 9 and 10 – Taking reasonable care

  • The forum noted a brief discussion paper in relation to reasonable care obligations under subsections 30-10(9) and 30-10(10) of the TASA (Code items 9 and 10), for the purpose of assisting the TPB to appropriately scope out information.
  • A number of comments and suggestions were raised and it was noted that pre-exposure draft material is expected to be provided at subsequent forum meetings for the purpose of seeking further guidance and feedback.

Cloud computing and the Code of Professional Conduct

  • The forum also provided comments on an initial iteration of a pre-exposure draft paper – intended for the tax and BAS agent audience in the first instance – in relation to how interaction with Cloud computing influences meeting Code obligations. It was observed that feedback on relevant issues will be sought from the ATO’s Future of the Profession working group (which includes representatives from the software industry) before any further work progresses on the paper.
  • It was reiterated that the TPB appreciates feedback received on discussion papers and other proposed information products.

Annual declarations for registered tax practitioners

  • The TPB is progressing work on a proposed streamlined annual declaration process, which will be rolled out to tax and BAS agents later this year. This is part of the TPB’s form redevelopment project and is intended to provide for a simple mechanism for the purpose of ensuring practitioners meet their ongoing registration requirements.
  • The process will be based on the registered practitioner’s registration anniversary date and cover notification of a number of items, including:
    • professional indemnity insurance (replacing the current notification process)
    • continuing professional education
    • fitness and propriety

    and act as a prompt to advise of any change in registration details or circumstances.

Next meeting

The next forum will be held on 10 November 2015 in Sydney.

Last modified: 20 July 2015