Relying on information from clients, accountants or other third parties

Sometimes, advisers need to obtain information from third parties when dealing with clients.  These advisers need to protect themselves from the potential fallout from their clients if that information is incorrect.  This can occur particularly in relation to superannuation contributions.  The client's accountant may provide details of previous superannuation contributions made by the client.  If the accountant (or the client) provides wrong information to the adviser as to the client's level of prior superannuation contributions, this may lead to the client making excess contributions and suffering severe tax consequences, including penalties.

There are several ways for an adviser to protect themselves in this situation.

The adviser could bring the issue to the attention of the client and advise the client to sign off on the fact that the adviser will be relying on information from third parties.  One of the ways this may be done is to include such a clause in a client services agreement.  It is not unusual for a client services agreement to contain a clause relating to reliance on information from third parties.  However, if an adviser wishes to add an extra level of protection, the adviser may request the client to sign a separate document authorising the adviser to rely on the particular information provided by the third party.  In this situation, the adviser should have ideally collected the information from the third party and specifically listed that information in the authorisation document that is to be signed by the client.

The adviser may also wish to inform the accountant, or other third party, in writing that the adviser will be relying on the information for the purpose of calculating superannuation contributions and the importance of the information being correct.