SMSF auditors - competency exam
We have set the self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) auditor competency exam as part of our obligations under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS Act) to register approved SMSF auditors.
We have developed the exam questions with the help of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and representatives from the following professional associations:
- Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (formerly Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia)
- CPA Australia, and
- Institute of Public Accountants.
Who needs to pass the exam?
Anyone who plans to register as an approved SMSF auditor will need to pass the exam.
For further details about the requirements for registration as an approved SMSF auditor, see Regulatory Guide 243 Registration of self-managed superannuation fund auditors (RG 243).
What is the exam?
The exam is a means to assess a person’s competency to audit an SMSF at the minimum required standard. It takes 2 hours and consists entirely of multiple-choice questions.
You will only be allowed to bring certain permitted reference material into the exam – it is not an open-book exam.
Is there a prerequisite course of study for the exam?
There is no prerequisite course of study for the exam. We have set the exam on the basis that the person sitting the exam is already appropriately qualified and experienced in auditing SMSFs. This reflects the minimum qualifications and experience requirements for registration as an approved SMSF auditor, see RG 243.
How will the exam be booked and delivered?
We have engaged Assessment Services Limited (ASL) as our service provider to manage bookings and deliver the exam.
You can make exam bookings through the ASL online booking portal. This includes the selection of an exam venue and time and payment of the exam fee. You can also use the booking portal for transfers or cancellations of bookings and to access exam results.
The exam is delivered electronically. Applicants will complete the exam on a computer located at one of our provider’s venues. Trained invigilators supervise the exam venues.
Where and when will the exam be provided?
Exam venues will be available in each capital city and 37 regional sites. A schedule of the available exam dates for each venue is available on the booking portal.
Do I need to pay a fee for the exam?
An exam fee of $105 applies from 1 July 2016. This fee is payable when booking the exam. It is not refundable, regardless of whether the applicant goes on to sit the exam or not. The Superannuation Auditor Registration Imposition Act 2012 prescribes the exam fee.
Further details about paying the exam fee are available on the booking portal.
How many attempts to pass the exam do I get?
To be eligible for registration, you must:
- have passed the exam in the 12 month period prior to your application, and
- not have attempted and failed the exam twice during the 12 month period prior to your registration application.
What is the pass mark?
The required pass mark for the exam is 65%.
What do the exam questions cover (what is the syllabus)?
The exam overall is intended to reflect the minimum standard required for a competent SMSF auditor. Competency is taken to include being able to meet the competency standards set out in ASIC Class Order [CO 12-1687] Competency standards for approved SMSF auditors. ASIC's competency standards include tasks that are generally required in an SMSF audit and specific related knowledge requirements.
The exam questions are on the audit of a fund’s SIS Act compliance and the audit of the fund’s financial statements. The questions assess the auditor’s knowledge, application and judgement in relation to the relevant SIS Act requirements and auditing requirements.
The exam questions address the specific learning objectives set out in the syllabus for the exam. The learning objectives are grouped into various SIS Act compliance and financial statement audit topics.
In addition to addressing a particular learning objective, each question is also set in the context of one of the tasks or knowledge requirements contained in ASIC's competency standards.
For example, a particular learning objective may relate to the applicant’s ability to apply a ‘sole purpose test’ requirement in a given scenario. A question addressing this objective could be set in the context of one of the audit planning tasks contained in the competency standards or alternatively a task relating to the evaluation of audit evidence.
What material is useful in preparing for the exam?
The following material may be useful in preparing for the exam:
- the SIS Act and Regulations
- the Auditor Contravention Report and Auditor Contravention Report Instructions
- ASIC’s Competency standards set out in [CO 12-1687]
- the ‘Reference Facility’ material included in the ATO’s eSAT tool. You can access the Reference Facility under the 'Functions' menu
- the auditing and assurance standards and Guidance statement GS009 on auditing SMSFs, available on the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board’s website
- Professional ethical standard APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, available on the Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board's website.
What reference material do I need to bring with me?
Certain questions may require an applicant to refer to the SIS Act and Regulations. Applicants will be permitted to bring a copy of the SIS Act and Regulations. Applicants will not be permitted to write on the copies of the SIS Act and Regulations brought with them.
Please note that pens and scribble paper will be provided at the exam.
Are there other exam details or rules that I need to be aware of?
The booking portal contains other important exam information and rules, including those contained in our provider’s terms and conditions for booking and sitting the exam.
Who can I contact if I have a further query about the exam?
You can contact ASL about any queries about booking or sitting the exam - contact details are available on the booking portal.
We are always looking to improve our information for SMSF auditors so we would like to know what's important to you. Please leave us some feedback.