…but that doesn’t make them an Accountant!!
It’s true, anyone can set themselves up in business as an Accountant without formal qualifications or the accreditation of a governing body. You can put your business in the hands of someone, who if they make a huge mistake, will leave you with no means of recovering your losses. If as a Solicitor, you were to do the same, chances are you would find yourself behind bars or at least fined thousands pounds. But in the UK, the term Accountant is not protected, literally anyone can pass themselves off as an unqualified and unregulated Accountant without ever having passed or even sat an exam. So why would anyone choose to purchase this type of service? It’s cheap!!! As these “Accountants” have no regulatory body to answer to or standards to maintain, they can charge way less than a qualified accountant, so on a monthly basis you may be better off in terms of your outlay for services, but in the long term who will be a lot worse off due to:
– Fines and penalties either for not submitting your accounts and tax returns on time or where your submissions are inaccurate. After all, if you’re just a day late, fines start at £100 and rise quickly.
– Missing out on legal and legitimate tax planning opportunities that you didn’t know existed and which usually can’t be back dated.
– Wasting your valuable time having to deal lengthy queues for the HMRC call centre, as your unqualified Accountant has not been accepted as your representative.
– your Bank not accepting the figures from the unqualified Accountant for a bank loan / mortgage / higher purchase.
When shopping around for an Accountant, it really does make sense to ensure they are under the umbrella of a regulatory body such as ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) or ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales). You will then have the comfort and peace of mind of knowing that the Professional Accountant, you have trusted with your business will have:
Chartered Certified Accountants have to pass a large number of vigorous examinations in all aspects of accountancy. Full membership of the ACCA is equivalent to a masters degree.
Chartered Certified Accountants have to evidence several years of supervised work experience before they are admitted into membership and granted a practising certificate to directly advise clients.
CPD (Continuing Professional Development)
Chartered Certified Accountants have to keep themselves fully up-to-date by reading, research and attending professional courses, often led by leading specialists and accountancy authors.
Ethics & Professionalism
Chartered Certified Accountants have to comply with a code of conduct and ethics and must always act in a professional manner. Members convicted of serious crimes or breach of ethics can be reprimanded and even excluded from the Association.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
Practising Chartered Certified Accountants must have adequate professional indemnity insurance to cover any losses incurred by their client’s due to their poor advice or incompetence.
Practising Chartered Certified Accountants must have a “continuity agreement” in place with another firm of qualified accountants to ensure continuity of service in the event of serious illness or death of the practitioner.
Third parties, such as HMRC, lenders, landlords, and potential buyers of your business may place more reliance on accounts and returns prepared by a “Chartered” accountant than those prepared by yourself or by a book-keeper or unqualified accountant.
Now that you are armed with your new found knowledge of the Accountancy industry, you can go off and make an informed decision when choosing the practice that best suits your business, keep in mind that here at Magpie Accountancy, we are fully qualified members of the ACCA, so you are off to the perfect start.