Anyone can call themselves an Accountant; it isn’t a protected term like a solicitor. Therefore make sure you check the qualifications of whoever you engage.
The benefits of using a regulated Chartered Accountant
Anyone can set up an accountancy practice, regardless of whether they have specialist experience, technical skills, qualifications or professional indemnity insurance. Although providers of some services – such as audit, insolvency, investment business and probate – must be authorised, this is not the case with many other accountancy and taxation services.
Leading by example
Reputation matters. ICAEW has played a leading role in the accountancy profession for more than a century. All of our chartered accountants are qualified and regulated. They provide their specialist advice and services to the highest professional levels and comply with our principles-based guidance and standards on matters including ethics and quality assurance.
We monitor our members (ICAEW Chartered Accountants), member firms and the non-member affiliates we authorise to ensure that they follow our guidance and standards, plus appropriate laws, regulations and standards (see Responsible and accountable). ICAEW also has well-established policies and easy to access procedures in place to handle complaints.
Monitoring conduct and performance
If you select an unqualified or unregulated accountant to handle your finances or tax work, you may have nowhere to turn if there are problems with the quality of their advice, their conduct or their standards of service. In contrast, you can rely on comprehensive, proactive and cyclical monitoring of the conduct and performance of ICAEW Chartered Accountants and firms.
In the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you have the comfort of a safety net. All ICAEW Chartered Accountants in public practice are required to have professional indemnity insurance cover of up to £1.5m and many firms will have far greater cover. A firm will always be happy to advise you of the level of cover that they maintain. We operate financial compensation schemes for certain types of authorised investment business providers and probate providers.
Responsible and accountable
As a professional membership body and regulator, ICAEW, sets and enforces standards of conduct and performance for our members, students, firms and non-member affiliates. Qualifying as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant is demanding. Extensive formal training – with ICAEW-approved firms and training providers – is necessary to develop technical knowledge and practical skills, which must be kept relevant and up-to date with continuing professional education.
We support them by focussing on education, encouraging continuous improvement and providing specialist technical and practical resources; but we also monitor the services they provide and the quality management systems and procedures they employ.