Share this content

Working for Myself

I have worked in Finance now for over 10 years, qualifying as an ACCA 3 years ago. I would really like to work for myself one day soon, but as I have always worked in industry rather than practice I do not have the necessary experience to apply for an ACCA practising certificate, which all ACCA members in practice must have. I have been applying for practice jobs for the last 3 years (since qualifying) but have had no success.
I am therefore left with 4 options:
1. Resign my ACCA membership and set up in Practice. I can still call myself an Accountant (as can anyone!!) but obviously I really don’t want to throw away all the hard work and sacrifice I spent studying for 5 years!
2. Resign my ACCA membership and join the AAT, their guidelines seem a lot less stringent!
3. Work within the ACCA guidelines, only doing basic bookkeeping etc.
4. Set up a Practice as a LTD company with my wife as Managing Director and employing me as an Accountant. Not sure if this would work but technically I would be an employee not a partner or director in an Accountants firm so I could continue to be an ACCA member but would not need a practising certificate (I think?).

Does anyone have any suggestions/advice particularly on the legal/ethical position of option 4 above? I really don’t want to give up my ACCA membership, nor do I want to mislead any clients. All I want to do is work for myself and give clients comfort that I am a qualified experienced accountant, who knows what he is doing, along with maintaining the recognition for all my hard work.



Please login or register to join the discussion.

ACCA approved employer
That is correct that post 01/01/05 any practical training have to be with an ACCA approved employer.

Have look at the following application for PC on page 5 Para E.

Also you need to speak to ACCA a phoner already provided by Stephanie.

Have you to tried explaining your employer benefit of acca approved employer. I have seen some emplyers do use this in their recruitment advert to attract the applicant. An ACCA accountant who developes software for public transport industry uses ACCA Gold Approved as a prestigious. He used this logo on all communication, including email, headed paper, proposal etc.



Thanks (0)

ACCA approved employer

I was under the impression that any practical training had to be with an ACCA approved employer for it to count as suitable experience towards a practising certificate application. 3 years in total, 1 of which could be pre membership.

There are very few ACCA approved employers in my locality and I am reluctant to ask my current employer to register as he would be extremely suspicious as to my motives!

The ACCA rule book states that In exceptional circumstances, these requirements may be waived

Has anyone managed this?

Thanks (0)

OP Anon
I presumed that you qualified post 01/01/05.

You need to fill PCRR records for 24 months post membership.

If your supervisor/manager is qualified, then he/she can signed off your PCTR records.

If you are most senior in accounts, ask your auditor or accountant to sign off your records.
Extract from PCTR guidance Notes " Where members who work in the corporate or public sector are the most senior members of accounting staff in their organisation they may arrange for a representative from their organisation's auditors or accountants to act as thier Principal"

Your auditor or external accountant can sign off your training records.

Ideally this PCTR should be done on 6 mothly basis. Although PCTR forms may be completed retrospectively.

My employer's external auditor signed off my PCTR records recently. We ( the auditor and I) spoke to ACCA various times and they have been very helpful. If you want to talk to me email me nilesh_m(a) (Replace (a) with @)


Thanks (0)

not that strange
I can only speak for me but all the jobs I've seen advertised in practices demand experience in practice, ridiculously, even those for bookkeeping.

And if you want a job with an ACCA approved employer, there are very few approved employers and jobs with them even scarcer, especially now.

I could find jobs anywhere in corporate accounting without a problem. If you mention your prospective employer you'd like them to help you with a practicing certificate, they'll know you'll leave them after you get it.

Thanks (0)

Something strange
What I find weird is when you say you are willing to work to get the experience required for a practising certificate but you can't get a job.
Unless you are applying for the wrong type of jobs or asking for too much salary I can't understand. I would have thought most accountants willing to employ staff would consider you.
You need the experience to be a good practising accountant so getting a job is the way to go. There's too many disadvantages trying another route.

Thanks (0)

Option 4 is a no no
Unless the rules have changed recently, the position with a qualified accountancy practice operating via a limited company is that:

- the board must be controlled by qualified accountants,
- the majority of the voting shares must be held by qualified accountants,
- the practising certificate must be held in the qualified accountant's name.

As far as I am aware, the only way to practice as a qualified accountant is to get the certificate.

Not much help I'm afraid.

Thanks (0)

AAT option
I'm a Fellow AAT member and studied for the ACCA until I left the job that was paying for the tuition fees! This left me with the last level of ACCA to go, at which point I decided to take a break until I found another job or to see if I could make a go of self-employment.

11 years later as a self employed AAT, I am earning 10 times more (not trying to brag btw!) and only having to work 3 days a week! I've never been asked if I am a "proper" accountant - I think the only people that tend to have a problem with this is other accountants who may lose clients to my firm.

You won't lose the knowledge you've gained doing the ACCA - it will be evident to your clients that you know what you're talking about.

Of course, the only thing I can't do is auditing under my own name. However, since the turnover threshold is so high, none of my clients have needed one.

So, I can recommend the AAT route. Not sure you have to give up your ACCA membership - just so long as you don't practise as a Chartered Certified - I could be wrong on this as it's so long since I looked at the ACCA!

There are still regulating issues to be complied with as an AAT but, yes they are less onerous (CPE/CPD regs have just changed!)

Thanks (0)

Don't do it
Being in public practice involves advising clients on many issues of which years of experience in public practice is needed. You have already stated that "I have always worked in industry rather than practice" and therefore have no experience in working with the public.

Unless you therefore get experience in public practice before you even attempt to get a practicing certificate, I think you would be out of your depth.

Thanks (0)

no choice
You have worked hard for years to get a well recognised professional qualification and you are seriously considering throwing it all away - MADNESS!

Get a job in an ACCA practice, which will also give you invaluably practice experience, that you will lack having been in industry, get your practising certificate and do the job properly.

Thanks (0)

how o are you?
Before I can advise you of the best course of action I will need to know how o you are.
Assuming you are around the 30 mark, then your best bet is to get a job in practice and get a sartifikat etc etc.
If you can get your sartifikat before you are 35 then you probably have a good 25 years or so working for yoursen.

Thanks (0)

There are too many anons!
It looks like Anon answered his own question!

It would be interesting to know why the OP wants to move into practice. I moved from practice to industry, but I had 8 yrs at the beginning of my career in practice, so knew what I was letting myself in for (although in the interim, this thing called 'self assessment' had been invented, but you soon get used to it).

I can say from experience - it isn't for the dosh!

Thanks (0)

I agree with some of the earlier anon postings
but I must say I am also confused, as it is difficult to know which anon you are dealing with.

Thanks (0)

real life
work in the real life of public accounting is not a barrell of laughs so get the experience first I say!

Thanks (0)

You CAN get a pc with ACCA
It would be a real shame to resign your ACCA after so many years of hard work. The good news is that there is a solution for you. ACCA will issue practising certificates (non-audit) to members who have significant experience. They can be gained in via the following routes:

- get your employer to register as an Approved Employer. You then record 3 years of post-membership experience in practising certificate training records (PCTR) and have it signed off by your supervisor (who must be a qualified accountant). You apply to ACCA and they will issue you a certificate on the basis of your experience (eg if you haven't much tax experience they will expect you to complete tax training courses before you offer your services) and yes, your employer can register even if they are a private sector industry organisation.

- alternatively apply to ACCA Council for a waiver from completing the PCTR (eg if your boss is not qualified). Council will assess your application on its own merits.

Next step - look on the website ( and and contact ACCA Professional Standards on 0141 534 4175 or email [email protected].

You do have options and don't need to spend time in practice (although it would make life easier for you if you had).

All the best.

Thanks (0)

You are not very helpful
This is one of the most unhelpful posts I have read.

If all of you that said get a job in Practice had read the question propertly Anon is caught between a rock and a hard place.

He wants to be a practioner but cant because he does not have a practicing certificate for the ACCA and cant get a job.

I can understand his position. I had few qualifications when I started 13 years ago and was not a member of any of the accounting institutes. I was luckly and have had the opportunity to Practice and gain qualifications.

So ACCA members get your hats on and the ACCA board too and solve this problem soon. If this is not done he will leave the ACCA and join the CIOT. However what we will not have achieved is ensuring that he gets Practioner practice before anon starts out in practice. This is no good for anyone!

Thanks (0)

Surely, if you don't hold yourself out to be in practice as an ACCA then a practicing certificate is not necessary? If you interested in practice as a member of AAT then give me a ring on 0161 653 3033 John Ryan

Thanks (0)

It's not just about what you call yourself
Certainly with ICAEW, even if I don't call myself a chartered accountant I'm not even meant to be doing bookkeeping work without a practising certificate.

Also the option of the company with wife as MD certainly wouldn't work with ICEAW and I assume not with ACCA. My company has me as a sole director and my husband as co sec because ICAEW wouldn't let me call the company Chartered Accountants or be on their register if my husband was a director as he is not a qualified accountant.

Even with 8 years practice experience before I went into industry (nearly 5 years ago), I have found that for my own confidence now being back in practice (as well as the day job in industry) I have had to go back and restudy the ICAEW's latest tax syllabus and do a lot of reading up to feel confident. That is despite even attending 3 day annual updates for accountants in practice for the last 3 years even though I wasn't in practice then. Practice really is a different ball game so I would make sure you feel equipped to be able to advise clients effectively.

Good Luck

Thanks (0)

Thanks for comments
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to comment on my question, especially Stephanie, I will look in to her suggestion.

I guess what really narks me is that any one can set themselves up as an Accountant doing all types of work, except Audit, yet I (an experienced Qualified Accountant!) am not allowed to do even basic stuff, even if I dont mention that I am an ACCA member!

It really brought it home to me recently when a friend of mine asked me to be an Independent Examiner for a small-ish charity for which he is a trustee. He was absolutely gobsmacked when I told him I could'nt take any payment for this but would do it on an "honoury" basis.

They used to pay £200 to a non-accountant (anyone can be an independent examiner) but I, as an ACCA with no practising certificate, can't accept a single penny!!! (although the bottle of Whisky recieved was very much appreciated!)

I think this situation really stinks. Surely there should be a halfway house where people like me can work for themselves, not necessarily as a Chartered Certified Accountant, without facing disciplinary action from the ACCA.

Thanks (0)

You can do basic work
I'm sorry you feel let down in this area. All the UK regulatory bodies have a duty to ensure members work to certain standards and guidelines, which is why you need a pc.
But without one, you can perform work in the following areas:
- payroll
- bookkeeping
- prepare accounts to trial balance stage
- management consultancy

Anything more, then you do need a pc but you should be able to get one.

And let's protect the term accountant under law, like solicitors, then these issues would be clear cut.

Thanks (0)

You can do some basic work
I'm sorry you feel let down in this area. All the UK regulatory bodies have a duty to ensure members work to certain standards and guidelines, which is why you need a pc.
But without one, you can perform work in the following areas:
- payroll
- bookkeeping
- prepare accounts to trial balance stage
- management consultancy

Anything more, then you do need a pc but you should be able to get one.

And let's protect the term accountant under law, like solicitors, then these issues would be clear cut.

Thanks (0)

Thr reason for the rules
I do undertand what you say and do remember sharing your views after I qualified.

But what you must consider is that the post qualification experience enables the ACCA to, as far as possible, enable them to be sure that you are able to put into practice the skills you have. It is recognising that qualification alone is not sufficient to enable one to be a competant accountant.

Dont forget a student could sit down and pass the ACCA qualification without any practical experience whatsoever - someone such as this would be totally unable to run a practice.

Another thought - the 2 year post qulaification period does go very quickly!

It is worth it.

Thanks (0)

Accounting qualifications
I have a great deal of sympathy with the original anon.

I am setting up on my own after 20 years in practice with medium and large firms. For the last 10 years I specialised in tax and have ended up a Chartered Accountant (ICAEW) and Chartered Tax Adviser (CIOT). I have no intention of ever doing audit.

So I am wondering, do I need 2 qualifications? My gut instinct is to carry on with the one that is most useful to me and stop shelling out 2 lots of subscription fees (plus pc fees). I'm not that interested in the hard work I did 20 years ago, that's history, just what's of use and value to me now.

Has anyone else done this?

Thanks (0)

Tempted but no - couldnt bring myself to do it after many hours/weeks/months/years of hard studies!

Thanks (0)

ACCA working for myself with NO practising cert!
I have loads of sympathy with Anon. I found myself in a very similar situation a few years ago when the company I worked for relocated and I was made redundant.

After a few months job searching I decided to set up on my own. I have many years experience as a qualified accountant, ACCA.

5 years later I now have my own successful firm with no practising certificate, I can't get one because I have never worked for an ACCA registerered practice, but I am still an ACCA member.

How do I do this? Simple. I trade as a Ltd company, my wife is the sole director of the company therefore I am classed as an employee. My wife is not an Accountant but we don't refer to our firm as Chartered Certified Accountants so thats OK.

Yes I could have resigned as an ACCA member (and saved myself annual subs fee and CPD commitments) but it is useful to put them letters after my name if only to provide assurance to my clients, (and I worked bloody hard to get them!).

I do have some good contacts with other local Chartered Accountants and that has helped a great deal. I can go to them for advice and have often refferred clients to them for specialist services which I dont feel comfortable with eg. IHT.

My advice for Anon is to go for it. I am my own boss doing a job I love and gaining huge satisfaction from working with small businesses (like mine).

Thanks (0)

Using your ACCA letters
Hi Eric,

I would be very surprised if the ACCA allowed you to use your letters after your name as I was faced with a similar situation a few years ago.

Did you clear it with the ACCA or are you just assuming it was okay?

Thanks (0)

Substance over form...
I fear you are in breach of ACCA rules and if discovered could face disciplinary action.
ACCA's global practising regluations can be found on their website and clearly state that, irrespective of the legal situation, if you have control of or can exert significant influence over a public practice firm or if your clients perceive you to be a principal, then you are engaging in public practice and need to hold a practising certificate.

The very fact that you acknowledge what you are doing in your post indicates that you are aware that you really should hold a practising certificate.
Rather than risk your livelyhood, why not apply for one based on your many years of experience via special consideration from Council? You may find they give you one due to your experience.
At the very least you must know what you are doing is not ethical.

Thanks (0)

For Eric
Eric as one who has to pay for an ACCA practising certificate I woudnt for one moment imagine your set up is playing by the rules. Dont you think more of us out their would have followed suit?

Thanks (0)

Acca Practising Certificate
My advice would be to speak to the ACCA about it. I did just that as I was in a similar position and I was actually granted a practising certificate. If you have more than 5 years industry experience, they may help you. There is very little you can do without it, even filing a tax return would be prohibited. I was a licensed AAT member too and the ACCA still said that they would not allow me to even file a tax return without it. They were very helpful because I went to them rather than them finding out and taking ahard line with me.

Thanks (0)