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Resign from ICAEW?

I bet the ICAEW website has some useful information and I'll mosey along there, but I'm interested in views from the folks on here - current members, ex-members, never-been-members.

My job, while notionally in finance, is more about maintaining accounting systems and much less about actual financial reporting or even book-keeping!  CPD is a joke - nothing I can learn from the available courses has any relevance to my work.  I get nothing of real value from my institute - not their fault.

My qualification wasn't even of much interest to my current employer when they offered me the job - as a demonstration of being able to attain such a qualification that's fine but they see little value in retaining it.  Of course if I change jobs then maybe I'll regret giving up my membership, although I think 5+ years not really being an accountant is more relevant than a qualification I earned 15 years ago.  When you've been working for 20 years surely experience counts for much more.

The other thing that worries me is how easy (or not) it is to resign.  I think I've seen accounts before of indifference from the ICAEW (typically when members resign complaining of the heavy compliance burden of being a small practicioner) but can't help wondering if I'll be bombarded with questions.

I don't take resignation lightly, and would welcome any thoughts...


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getting back in

You haven't given your age - and don't really need to, but appreciating the impact on your future career is difficult without this information. It's clear that the Institute (of which I'm a member) hasn't much to offer you at present - but you must have slogged hard to get ACA after your name and I don't know how difficult it is to get it back once you let go.

My only paralllel is audit registration - and I haven't looked back since I let mine go. I have no clients at all who need it and no aspirations in that direction, but my gut feeling is that unless you are clear that you can rejoin should you desire this might be something worth hanging on to.

If you consider that your membership fee is not worth it, I'll suggest a radical step - spend more not less!! It may be that Faculty or SIG (Special Interest Group) membership will make your fee more cost effective - certainly as a member of the Tax Faculty I consider this the best value for money of my annual spend. Is there something there for you - among the many Faculties and Interest groups? And if not, why not approach Moorgate Place with a suggestion - a group which would be relevant to you?? Surely the ICAEW should be able to provide adequately for its members?

I'm sure that other members will have different views, but that's mine!

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You really dont matter to them

Hate to say this, but all these bodies are much the same, you are simply a source of income to them and they want to keep you paying your subscriptions - beyond that they really don't give a stuff about you or any other member. Anyone who thinks the Institutes are there to look after their members interests is severely deluded.  

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Been there

I was in almost exactly the same position. My job had become a mixture of IT consultancy, implementation support and journalism. I came very close to resigning from ICAEW, but didn't. A series of client changes, changes in the market and I ended up with an offer to work as an accountant again from an IT client. Now I work in the public sector and I have been very glad to keep my qualification alive.

I don't get much out of my subscription but it has helped in my career. I guess you pays your money and takes your chance (or not).

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Systems Accountant?

Perhaps I am also in this position, but I would not consider resigning. I value the qualification and am still proud to call myself an accountant.  I know some think you don't need a qualification to do that, but I can't agree.

CPD addresses itself to keeping up to date in knowledge that is relevant, so I think it is a red herring.

Actually, I do think that systems accountants are under-represented in the Institute.  The IT faculty doesn't quite cut it!  The nearest fit is BCS, although that is getting perhaps a bit too technical!

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Thinking of resigning also

I am a sole practitioner, aged 39, and am thinking of resigning.  Most of my clients don't know/care what sort of accountant I am - they become clients because they like me or I am recommended to them.  The CPD courses that ICAEW offer are available elsewhere at a cheaper cost.  The only time my qualification is helpful to my working life is when I prepare mortgage references for clients.  However, I am also a member of the CIOT which has similar agreements with most mortgage providers.  The CIOT has more relevant offerings to me and cheaper CPD courses.

I just can't see what value being a member of the ICAEW gives me anymore?

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Resign from Institute

I must say that the previous response from Rebecca Benneyworth introduced some very strong arguments. I agree with her - there must be the IT faculty or special interest groups which could be of real use to you - particularly if you are looking for new projects. it's always good to have one point of common interest when you speak to someone for the first time- and being a CA is a good default. Your projects may be in IT, but who is the decision maker for a new project start? the FD? 

A side benefit of this discussion is that it has made me re- evaluate membership - my view of the Institute and the way it is/ has been going is not broadly positive. But at the end i agree with Rebecca - stay in and make it work more for you






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It may become more useful to you

I think you are probably aged around the big 4-0...about 10 years behind me :(

My thoughts are that none of us know what the future holds and it's generally good advice not to close any metaphorical doors.  Unless the membership fee is causing you financial hardship, I'd maintain your membership...just in case.

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I worked too hard for it to give it up.


I understand where you're coming from. I don't need to be ACA in my current role, and the fees and CPD etc are a bit much, when you seem to get nothing for it except Accountancy magazine (which waits weeks for me to read and generally ends up in recycling). But at the end of the day, I worked really hard to pass those exams, am proud of my achievement and wouldn't give it up for the sake of a few hundred pounds a year. It would cost me a lot more in time and money to resit those exams now, and I don't think I would find the energy to do it all again. So I'll be hanging onto mine, for now at least.

Rebecca is right, I think a lot depends on your age, and whether you might need it for a future job. The cost is only equivalent to a pint or two a week when you think about it.

Best of luck whatever you decide.

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Furure uncertain

I wld have tht that in these times of uncertainty you wld be glad to hold on to what you must have worked hard to gain. You never know what's round the corner and when you might need those initials. Even if it's not relevant it's often a case of peoples' perception about you. If I was you I wldn't let go for anything but no harm in speaking to your association.

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I agree with Helen

I've worked far too hard for my qualifications to give them up. 

It might have been a while ago but they were bloody hard work and I went straight out and got my membership certificate professionally framed, at what at the time seemed like considerable cost, as that bit of paper had been so hard won. 

I should note that it was kept in a cupboard for the next 10 years and I've only hung it up since I started my own practice, alongside my practising certificate and Fellowship certificates (also professionally framed to match).  I'm not the saddo that has it in the living room!!

It's a few hundred pounds a year, if you're hard up you can get either the half fee or the low subscription, so it shouldn't bankrupt you.    I'd stick with it.


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Ben there too

I had a role in accounting systems followed by maternity leave and career break. The qualification but not necessarily the continuing membership were part of getting the systems job. I went through the same thought process as the fees and CPD are really quite costly. I decided to hang on as:

1 I had worked hard for the qualification

2 I was under 40 and uncertain of my future career path

3 At the time it was, as Rebecca suggests, difficult to rejoin

I am glad of that decision as I now have the flexibility of my own small practice. Unless you are close to full retirement  having the qualification will not be detrimental to your career but you may regret letting it lapse.

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Zombies prevail

I resigned in 2008 before the 2009 sub became due. I had been a member for 36 years. I had just learned that the goalposts had been moved as of January 2008 and I now needed a practising certificate. The arrogance of this I found breathtaking given absolutely no notice (does any one read Accountancy?). I am also a solicitor (non-practising) at £20 per annum and a Fellow of CIOT which does not have practising certificates just a sub. How dare ICAEW say I need one for practising tax just because I am qualified as a CA? I don't do any reserved activities e.g. conveyancing litigation or probate so SRA does not regard me as practising just because I worked hard for and deserved my qualification. I have made overtures to return and to be fair the ICAEW staff I have been in contact with have been brilliant. But it will be decided by a committee. I have no disciplinary issues but I have done my time in the Headmaster's study and that period of my life is over. Do I really want to PAY to belong to an organisation run at the top by bureaucratic Zombies?

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I'm in the "worked bloody hard" camp, but...

I agree with the other people who say they worked too hard for the qualification to give it up, and the subs aren't that much per week unless you're really hard up (in which case do they have a reduced hardship rate?). But on the other hand, I question current relevance to most of the jobs I've had over the last 10 years & at present, except that it does bring a degree of kudos.

I also struggle with the relevance of much of what the Institute does, which seems to be tied in to the needs of the Big 4 and mega-clients, and driving new ways to regulate the profession ever more tightly. Part of my reason for starting out was my father-in-law's theory (he was an FCA) that if you had the qualification you'd never starve because audits always needed doing. Yes well that was before all the other practising certificate and compliance stuff came rolling down the road. I don't think I'd be in any position to practise as a sole practitioner nowdays even if I wanted to.

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Also thinking about resignation but from ACCA

... because whilst I once did a good proper accounting job, since becoming a mum I now do 3 book-keeping roles which frankly the average 16 year old with a rough grasp of double entry bookkeeping could do with ease.  Having been out of a proper accounting job for 4 years, I now feel that the chances of ever returning are remote, and in the meantime I am supposed to do my CPD (developing my ability to input invoices more quickly maybe?), and pay out a subscription fee for which I get very little in my view.

But then I have just turned 40, and those exams were hard work....and if I did leave, that's my bridge burned....

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Been there done that

 I was a CA many moons ago but personal circumstances (two profoundly disabled children and a hubby with Aspergers (although we did not know that at the time) meant that I simply could not keep up with the cost/time/CPD points needed for membership all those years ago. At the time I was working long hours as financial controller in a major public company and realised I had to make changes to survive. I opted to set up my own practise but only deal with small business's as I felt I could still support the family whilst providing a decent service, for the people that cannot afford/don't need the range of services the large firms offer, in a field of work I enjoyed.

I cannot say I have suffered any consequences from clients. They really don't care what my qualifications are as long as I save them tax and keep them out of trouble with the various authorities and, if any new clients do ask, I simply explain that I was a member but dropped out because etc. I have only had one person think twice in 27 years of practice and a couple who by the nature of their work need their Accountant to be current members.

Even though I had a pretty high powered job in industry at the time I don't think it would have affected me IN THAT JOB as they knew me and my work having been there for a number of years but I would not like to have felt that I had to stay in that one job for the rest of my working life if my circumstances had been different at that age (late 30's).

Being an EX CA does affect the way you are viewed by some other Accountants, solicitors, judges and the like who tend to assume you are are totally unqualified if you don't have the membership and I have on occasion had other firms of Accountants write to their clients, upon receipt of my engagement letter, telling them I am not qualified. It has not made any difference to the client's decision to come to me as I am quite open about the circumstances but you do feel somewhat 2nd class when that happens. I have never had any problems with HMRC at all and have only had one mortgage company worry about taking a reference from me. I won that argument in the end by simply challenging their decision but HMRC could decide at any point that they will not accept returns from non members - it does come up from time to time.  

I think your age IS important as are your expectations for the future. I would, in your situation most definitely find out whether you can rejoin if necessary, with what conditions attached and also within what time frame. You don't want to leave it eleven years and then find you could only reverse the decision within ten years for example. Although I hate to say this, that view is based more on other people's perspective of you if you wish to make changes in your career at a later date rather than the value of the actual membership! I do agree with the "worked hard for what you got" vote and I doubt very much you would feel up to doing it all gain in another five years if you suddenly needed membership. I know I would not stand a hope in hell of passing the exams now. In this climate, and I suspect for some time to come nobody is going to be able to count on their current job being there for ever so unless you can reverse your decision with a minimum amount of fuss I would certainly proceed with caution unless there are extenuating circumstances that you have not mentioned.   

For me it worked but I would hesitate to recommend that route unless you really know where you are going in the long term future. Not everyone values experience over paper qualifications.

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From an Ex Member

A very good post Beverly.

I understand the concern that people have about their hard earned qualification and the future disadvantages that they might suffer if they jump ship. I had a heavy heart when I did so around 6 years ago but, in retrospect, it was the best thing I ever did. I can now look at the antics of the Institute from outside with a smile on my face knowing that I'm as unregulated as is legally possible.

As far as clients, HMRC, banks or anybody else are concerned, I'm judged on what I do and how I conduct myself both verbally and in writing. When I passed the exams in the dim and distant past it was a premier league position to be in - with respect to today's newest members the standards are mediocre although I accept they can only answer the questions put in front of them.

The Institute and Association are just trade bodies who can only survive by collecting enough membership fees to pay their bills. Exam pass rates will be set to maintain a membership level that achieves that objective irrespective of the quality of the entrant. We shall see more reciprocal arrangements with foreign bodies as a means to keep membership levels up.

As far as HMRC are concerned, there is no doubt whatsoever that membership of a professional body will be irrelevant in any future decision making. This was evidenced by their recent consultation document about Agents when they referred to members of Professional Bodies and Unaffiliated Agents - there was no mention of the word "qualified" and I applaud them for recognising the way that this word is misused by the accounting fraternity.

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The position in the legal profession was much improved when the SRA took on the duties of regulator and the Law Society those of a trade union. The ICAEW is still struggling in trying to carry out both roles.

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I am in the position of senior manager with mid tier practice and have ACCA and CTA membership.

If I was asked to pay the subscriptions myself (which I dont) then I definitely would not renew the ACCA subscrition.  (I would pay the CIOT membership). 

The ACCA/ACA badge, for me has very little impact to the work I undertake and like the poster above, I am dismayed by the quality of member coming through.  Now it seem you can pass exams with not much more than good attendance. 

The red tape and restriction of these organisations is just terrible.  Whilst I am all for CPD, there is little room for entrepreneurship.  We are all like a bunch of robots running about trying to abide by a set of mostly silly rules.  Maybe this is not even the fault of ICAEW or ACCA, it is just the way of the world now.

Whilst I do think to the future, If I dropped the membership I would be happy to continue to say I was still a qualified accountant, (I am!) but just not a member.  Whats the problem there?

The end decision is yours and it is affected by your age and other things as mentioned above.


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"continue to say I was still a qualified accountant, (I am!) but

 It is really important that you do make it absolutely clear that you are not a member if you do drop out. I also still say that I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the year dot but always add that I dropped out of the Institute in whenever. You cannot use the logo etc either or you could end up being accused of misrepresenting yourself and that could be a BIG problem.

I am sorry to read that membership standards have slipped so much. I recall commenting that another country appeared to give membership away to its residents on their 21st birthday many years ago. How sad if that is the way we are going.

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Hi Beverly

On what grounds do you think it is "really important"?  In what way is what I quoted above misleading?

I would of course not use the badge or the letters after my name, that goes without saying.

I am qualified, but not a member, I dont see any issue at all.


As far as the newly qualified's go I agree with the thomas34, its just a numbers game to the big 2.


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Restrict the use of the term accountant

I also am in practice and although I retain my membership and put myself out as a chartered accountant this adds little value to my practice. I think the fact that any one can call themselves an accountant without any qualifiications and without being affiliated to any professional body completely devalues the profession. Until this changes I can see little point in being a member as clients just don't care. The one downside that I can see of ceasing membership whilst in practice is then have to register with HMRC for money laudering purposes but what difference this makes (or wheerh any one bothers) I have no idea.

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Get Used To It Folks

What we do is not important in the grander scheme of things. If we make a genuine mistake, no one dies and in my experience no one gets fined or penalised or if they do we earn our corn by fighting our corner.

How can anybody take our profession seriously after Enron, British and Commonwealth, Polly Peck, Lloyds Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, AIG etc. The Big Four have contributed towards making a mockery of accounting standards (and not the FRS ones). I'm glad that I'm not associated with these people in any way and in particular being in the same club.


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Hi, Charlie!

I agree with Rachel, Paul and others.  Paul mentioned the IT Faculty which I am involved with. I thought you would like to know why I am involved.

The faculty was established some 15 years ago.  I, as a business systems accountant within a national firm of accountants, found I had not a lot of people in a similar position to discuss issues with and to ask advice of, so I turned to my Institute, the natural thing to do given the subs we pay!  I joined the fledgling IT Faculty and found others from business and practice in similar roles to mine (practice including what is now the Big 4 as well as Group A and smaller).  To me it has been invaluable.  I became Chairman of the faculty some 18 months ago and have been delighted to support an entitity that is so useful supporting members, whether IT specialists or business systems generalists.  It is interesting now to see members 25 years younger than me becoming involved for exactly the same reasons as I did.  For information, the faculty provides advice and guidance on a range of issues, from the very tactical (pivot tables in Excel) to the strategic (what is our policy on using and securing information).  We provide a range of technical guides (written for business people), networking events around the country and a free blogging community (IT Counts) where users receive bi-weekly updates and can ask questions of their colleagues on any subject.  We also use new media with a group on LinkedIn and tweet regularly (@icaew_itfaculty).  So, as Rebecca says, get involved, join the faculty (anyone can join, not just ICAEW members) and help drive the agenda forward.

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Old Chestnut
Restrict the use of the term accountantPosted by bj2404 on Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:03


Not that old chestnut again.

It will NEVER happen, indeed there are legal reasons (which i cant be bothered to go into again) why it can never happen.

The differentiation is made by the word "Chartered" - so accept it and move on.

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Hi blok

 A little touchy aren't we? I didn't say anything about your post being misleading. I was actually agreeing with you that it was OK to say you were qualified. I do however think it is important that an accountant should not represent themselves as a member if they drop out and was simply pointing out to Charlie that he would not be able to do that or use the logo or advertise as a member etc, etc if he did drop out now. Sounds to me as though he has a lot of choices ahead of him still and he really needs to weigh up all the consequences. Life can throw a lot of things at you that cause you to make choices that you would not normally make. I was articled to a large firm, hated it, especially the auditing and vowed I would never darken the doors of the profession again after I qualified. I really loved industry but my life changed. Look at me now, 27 years into practice as a sole trader and very happy with the arrangement, thank you.

Frankly I was not entirely sure whether you were just saying that you would tell people you are qualified (quite right) or that you would make it clear to people that you were not a member as well. People have different expectations of a qualified Accountant who is still a member of the Institute than they do of one that isn't, not least in the level of fees they expect to pay, but some professions in particular, need to be serviced by a qualified accountant who IS a member of the profession. I believe that the people we act for, whoever they might be, have the right to make an assessment on whether they can trust us to keep up to date with legislation or take advice at the right time etc IF that matters to them and telling them where you are at is part of that trust. 

If I ran a Ltd Company I would not try to pose as a sole trader for the same reasons that I don't think it is right to tell people you are qualified and fail to explain you dropped out of the Institute but there are many situations where it would certainly matter whether you were a member or not - acting as an expert witness in Court for example or even acting as a lay advisor in Court (if you get the wrong Judge). They do like the letters which is a major reason why I have stopped representing people in Court now. In the eyes of many Judges it can be detrimental to their claim to have a non member advising them in Court even if that non member is actually qualified.

You only have to watch the news occasionally to see how people get treated if they have portrayed themselves as something they are not.      

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Is this a symptom not the problem

 I am amazed that so much has been added to this thread - and I also see that there is a consistency behind it which prompts me to add another comment. 

'How come we can be so voluble about one wavering Institute member (no disrespect intended)?

What we really feel aggrieved about is the service that we get from ICAEW. And the truth is, probably, that in terms of numbers, pure headcount, we are probably in the majority. I'm not suggesting that we march on the Institute (or perhaps I am) AND it seems that the best thing we could do with all the material we have assembled here is package it up and send it to Moorgate Place (if anybody still sits there - or is it just a restaurant outsourced to Gordon Ramsay these days?)

Or do I misinterpret your comments ?



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Didn’t the institute get too big for its boots a few years ago, and is still suffering excessive pension liabilities and debt that impairs its ability to do its work. To most people its a badge, a club that provides an image of respectability and credibility. Its matters to some, not to others who take offence at £200 per hour when that is what they may earn in a week.  

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till death us do part ?

Whilst an accountant in industry for 35 years I convinced myself the ICAEW was mainly supporting accountants in practice and resented my fees subsidising them (even though my employers always reimbursed me!).

However I remained a member for all those years because I appreciated that the qualification would be essential reading, or more likely a screening out criteria for future recruiters reading my CV.

Now I am in the driving seat, so to speak, I decided to drop the membership, and the ICAEW sent a letter to my home offering their sincere condolances on my death - followed some time later by a very appologetic letter.

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ICAEW - Not for me

I qualified as an ACA over 20 years ago.

I work as a part-time accountant with my own practice. Five years ago I resigned from the ICAEW in protest at the lack of support, red tape and ridiculously high fees. My resignation was not questioned by the ICAEW.

My practice continues to prosper, clients recommend me and banks and building societies accept my accounts and financial information.

The ICAEW did not work for me.

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No dogs allowed

These bodies are all the same - they only care about gathering in fees.

I always recall a visit I made to the Kennel Club. Outside their door was a sign saying "No dogs allowed".  Says it all really.

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@ C_D - confused?

You seem to be behind the weight of opinion for the OP to resign their membership (implied, but not stated), but you retain yours. How do you square that?

-- Kind regards Andy

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as an ex member i too agree that ICAEW is a waste of time money

and that is after 35 years membership - the way they treat some of the smaller practicioner members verges on criminal - the red tape is ridiculous - the only thing in favour of remaining a member is the requirement by home loan lenders for statutory accounts to be signed off by  ACA / ACCA members etc - but we are dealing with this by threatening to take on the insurers and lenders as anti competitive

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You seem to be behind the weight of opinion for the OP to resign their membership (implied, but not stated), but you retain yours. How do you square that?

Posted by andypartridge on Sun, 14/11/2010 - 11:09



Commercial neccesity - although as stated, as far as I can see none of these "institutes" serve any useful purpose.  They all seem to be out of touch with members, and heavily biased towards a just a handful of members.

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Sorry to see you go

All they said to me was to warn me that resigning does not make me immune from action for past disciplinary breaches (just in case I had any and they hadn't picked them up, not because I am on file). I once reported a solicitor to the Law Society and it was clear from their tone that they had a filing cabinet on him. I became unemployable overnight on 1 January 1991 when at 43 all my knowledge and experience mysteriously disappeared overnight.  I have since worked for a delightful organisation with a definitively flat management structure. I now have no partners whose current professional specialisation is lunch with 40 units, drawings and adultery, though no doubt they all still have practising certificates if not certificates of insurance. Instead of being bogged down in espionage and subversion, or counter-espionage and counter-subversion, I can now concentrate on the product and extracting cash from those who have never thought me too old, though some once thought me too young.

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Resign? Why not?

 If letters behind your name are important do not resign.

If holding Uni degree use those letters.

However at the end of the line its your brain, knowledge, experience that is bought and if some employment agency wants to know wave the degree paper in their face.

The ICAEW is about a service and if not delivering they become surplus to requirements.

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Not a lot of use

The ICAEW is about a service and if not delivering they become surplus to requirements.


Posted by richardterhorst on Tue, 16/11/2010 - 14:57


If everyone who gets nothing for their subscriptions resigned, they'd be able to hold members meeting in a phone box.

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Losing Accountancy Magazine Change Anyone's View

Now Accountancy magazine is £99 a year, a massive hidden fee increase, does this change anyone's view of the ICAEW?

At a rough guess, I have paid them £11,000 since I qualified. I've phoned them twice, on compliance matters, and the help was "psychological" rather than practical or valuable. Fees have consistently shown above inflation increases, and drop off in services (for instance closing the meeting and coffee spaces, closing Milton Keynes, etc). 

I struggle to see what value I get, and, in times like these, I'm looking to cut costs everywhere.

I'm looking at IoD membership, and just leaving "qualified ACA with [Big 4 firm] on [date]" on my CV but not using the initials on letters or emails. 

Does anyone have any valid alternative routes to display professionalism in the UK business world?

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