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Qualified Firm of Accountants

What does that mean? Many people who call themselves accountants do not have recognised qualifications. The term accountant is not protected in law, unlike the word ‘nurse’ or ‘doctor’

Why use a qualified accountant?

What is a Certified Accountant? What is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)?

Would you permit somebody to carry out brain surgery on you, without first enquiring if they were a qualified brain surgeon. Of course not! However, many people do permit an accountant to deal with their tax affairs or prepare their accounts without enquiring if the accountant is fully qualified.

In the United Kingdom anybody can set themselves up as an accountant. Unlike the words ‘doctor’ or ‘nurse’ or ‘solicitor’ which are words that are protected by law, the word accountant is not protected. Somebody who practises as an accountant may be highly qualified and experienced – but there is no guarantee.

Somebody may be a double glazing salesman today, but call himself an accountant tomorrow. There are many people offering accountancy services on the web to the public who have varying degrees of experience and qualification – and if they have no recognised qualifications, their clients will have no way of knowing whether they can rely on their expertise. What is more, they may not have professional indemnity insurance to ensure you are protected if something goes wrong.

This is why it is wise to seek the services of a Chartered Certified Accountant with a full practising certificate. To become a Chartered Certified Accountant, a person has to undergo several years of training, they must pass professional examinations, and they must meet tests of integrity and propriety. Even when they have qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant, they cannot obtain a practising certificate until they have had sufficient experience in a practising accountant’s office. To continue in practice they must demonstrate that they are keeping themselves up to date by attending courses on a regular basis. They must have adequate insurance cover to protect their clients if they should ever make a mistake. Their clients may complain the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and they are subject to a disciplinary process to ensure that they always keep to the highest standards.

The ACCA maintain a register on their website of members of the ACCA who hold a practising certificate. It is always worth checking the credentials of somebody you wish to do business with.

There are other organisations of equal stature to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) .They are the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland. They share the same rigorous approach before one of their members is issued with a practising certificate. Accountants who are members of these bodies will have the designatory letters FCCA, ACCA, FCA, ACA or CA after their name.

There are other accountancy bodies of equal stature, but who do not commonly authorise their members to engage in public practice. This would include CIPFA, and CIMA who are also Chartered Accountancy bodies, but whose members tend to specialise in none practising areas, although a small number are authorised for public practice.

There are also other accountancy organisations of varying degrees of stature. Just as anybody can describe themselves as an accountant, any group can describe themselves as an accountancy organisation.

There are many unqualified accountants who are skilled and knowledgeable. Many will give a professional service. The problem is that there is no method by which the lay person can tell whether a person is skilled and knowledgeable and professional other than by reliance on the formal qualifications.

There is one word that is protected by law – nobody may call themselves a ‘registered auditor ‘ unless they are not only a member of a recognised professional body, (of which the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants is one) but also have been licensed to carry out audits of limited companies. If somebody describes themselves as an ‘auditor’ , but not as a ‘registered auditor’ then beware - because the description may not mean anything.

If you use the services of a Chartered Certified Accountant, you can rely upon :-

  • His or her integrity

  • His or her absolute respect for the confidentiality of your affairs

  • His or her knowledge and expertise

  • The fact that there is a regulatory body who will ensure that standards are maintained.

  • The fact that he or she must operate within a strict framework of rules and ethics.
    The ACCA on their website, www.accaglobal.com publish the following regulation and promotional statement :-

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the largest global professional accountancy body, with nearly 300,000 members and students in 160 countries.

ACCA's mission is to provide modern, high quality professional opportunities to people of ability and application, be a leader in the development of the global accountancy profession, promote the highest ethical and governance standards, work in the public interest and be a leader in the knowledge-based profession of the 21st century.

ACCA qualified accountants have completed a rigorous programme of examinations and practical work experience before attaining Chartered Certified Accountant status. Members are able to develop further through continuing professional development and the availability of a range of further qualifications. ACCA monitors its members to ensure that high standards are maintained and is the only accountancy body to provide a completely open disciplinary system which offers remedy if any ACCA member breaches the high standards demanded.

ACCA's reputation is grounded in almost 100 years of providing accounting and financial qualifications, backed by a commitment to lifelong learning.

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