The corporate watchdog has deregistered 440 self-managed super fund auditors who did not undertake or pass the competency exam necessary to be registered.
The move to have stricter controls over the industry comes as the SMSF sector continues to gain popularity in Australia.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said of the 440 auditors whose registration was cancelled, 373 did not attempt the exam and 67 did not pass the exam.
SMSF auditors, of which there are around 7000 in Australia, are given up to two attempts to pass the competency exam.
ASIC said 1421 auditors were required to sit the exam before July 1 this year, but the regulator extended the cut off to August 31, 2014.
Graeme Colley, director of technical and professional standards at the SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia, told SmartCompany the matter had been referred on to ASIC by the Australian Taxation Office after the ATO cross-checked the number of audits each auditor was declaring and undertaking.
Colley says auditors, many of whom would be accountants, had declared they only undertook a handful of audits a year to escape sitting the competency test, but the ATO figures had caught up with them.
“The ATO has crosschecked the actual with the theoretical,” says Colley.
“They’ve realised, wait a minute, these people are telling porkies. They haven’t done the test and they are not meeting the qualification requirements.”
Colley says many small accountants would have tried to avoid the exam out of fear or embarrassment.
“Would you want to go do an exam if you haven’t done one in ten years?” he says.
Colley says the move to cancel the registration is a positive outcome for the SMSF sector because it will make sure auditors adhere to the highest standard of education.
“It means those that are there now to look after self-managed super funds are making sure audits are done properly,” he says.
Deregistered auditors have 12 months to re-apply for registration and pass the competency exam in no more than two attempts.