In recent times, expert SMSF specialist advice has become more valuable than ever.
Speaking at a recent industry conference, John Maroney, Chief Executive of The SMSF Association said, “SMSFs need specialist advice from a calming, trusted adviser. Now is not the time for rash decisions, so having a learned, reassuring voice in an SMSFs corner is, we would argue, critical, especially at this pivotal moment in history.”
It's a tough time for both SMSF Trustees and for Accounting firms advising their clients. Firms are facing the “fear of the unknown”, with auditor responsibilities expanding, increased scrutiny from the ATO, higher liability risks and an increased workload due to the COVID-19 relief measures.
DBA Lawyers director Daniel Butler said in a recent SMSF Adviser article that "after representing a number of auditors in a number of cases in recent years, he has seen the ATO has ramped up its scrutiny of SMSF auditor work."
“The ATO is looking at files in great detail, seeing whether the relevant evidence existed and that appropriate records of the work were undertaken.”
SMSF auditors are also facing an increased workload at the moment in light of the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting relief measures."SMSF auditors are in a very delicate position, Butler said, and when firms look at the bigger picture, the best thing may be to get out of audits."
Recently, there were changes made to the APES 110 Code of Ethics which address the issue of SMSF auditor independence.
The guidelines state that an auditor cannot audit an SMSF where the auditor, their staff or firm has prepared the financial statements unless it is a routine or mechanical service.
This is expected to impact firms that undertake both the preparation of financial statements and the audit for the same client.
While the ATO is currently taking an educative approach as the industry adjusts to the changes, it has previously flagged that many organisations will need to make significant changes within their business.
The new Code says, "Independence is linked to the fundamental principles of objectivity and integrity. Members shall be guided not merely by the words but also by the spirit of the Code".
With that in mind, Saul SMSF would be very happy to talk to any Accounting Firms who would like to rethink their audit arrangements. We have always stood for independence and quality in SMSF audits.