THE DANGERS OF USING AN UNQUALIFIED ACCOUNTANT
I have now been interviewed for 2 podcasts, though at the time of writing only 1 has been released. Apart from me what they both have in common was the shock of the interviewers when I told them that anyone can set themselves up as an accountant.
Physios have to be registered with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, a Solicitor is a lawyer who has been admitted as a solicitor by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and most people would think that an Accountant would be a similarly protected term. Unfortunately this is not the case. Anyone can start to trade as an accountant, they do not need to have passed any exams or provide any evidence that they are professionally competent.
As a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) I had to work hard to pass tough professional exams and obtain relevant experience. Since then every year I have had to make sure I have sufficient Continuing Professional Development experience.
Before I could practise as a partner in a firm of Chartered Accountants I had to obtain a Practising Certificate. Aysgarth has to be registered with the ICAEW – that gives you confidence that we aren’t merely accountants but we are Chartered Accountants.
As a firm we happily follow the ICAEW rules and regulations. I pay annual subscription fees to them. I make sure I have relevant CPD – I keep up to date with accounting standards, with tax rules and with relevant technological advances.
We have to have professional indemnity insurance (PII) and we disclose that fact on our website.
However unqualified accountants do not need to have PII. So if your unqualified accountant makes a mistake you may not have any come back.
Your unqualified accountant doesn’t have to prove that they are technically up to date. I have a rogues’ gallery of accounts that have obvious mistakes in them and most of those errors were from accounts prepared by unqualified unregistered accountants. This may well be the subject of another blog.
How do you know if your unqualified accountant is giving you correct tax advice? HMRC love to make connections – so if they find a mistake in a tax return prepared by an unethical unqualified accountant they may look more closely at other clients of the same accountant.
Cheap isn’t always best and in the long term it may not be the best value for money for you. If you are running your own business you need to have the peace of mind that your key business advisor, your most trusted advisor, is a qualified professional. If you are using an unqualified accountant you cannot prove that and you should urgently reassess who should fulfil that role.
If you are currently using an unqualified accountant I would love to meet-up with you to tell you further about the benefits of using a true professional: a Chartered Accountant, so please get in touch.