ICAEW bans uncooperative practitioner

An ICAEW member has been banned for two years and fined £1,950 for a number of offences, including repeatedly failing to answer correspondence.

A disciplinary tribunal found that Andrew Alexander, from Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, had breached various Institute codes under four heads of complaint. 

In its monthly publication of disciplinary orders, the ICAEW said Alexander and his firm, AR Alexander FCA had:  

  • From 12 January 2013 to 20 May 2013 failed to submit an annual return on behalf of his firm for the period ended 31 July 2012 
  • From 15 July 2012 and 20 May 2013 he practised without professional indemnity insurance (PII) 
  • Between 8 June 2012 and 20 May 2013 he failed to respond to the Quality Assurance Department’s (QAD) closing record of findings 
  • Between 5 September 2012 and 20 May 2013 he failed to respond to a letter from the Practice Assurance Committee (PAC) secretary.

In regard to the non-submission of an annual return, the ICAEW had sent Alexander a copy of the return to complete by 31 August. But when he didn't do so, the Institute, including the PAC secretary, wrote to him every month following until April 2013 but received no response.

Alexander's PII policy was also under dispute due to his non-filing of annual returns. His most recent returns, the ICAEW reported, were dated November 2011 and stated that his PII policy would have expired in July 2012. As the institute wasn't able to confirm whether he had a policy in place after this due to the absence of annual returns, the tribunal found he had "probably" breached its rules on practising without a policy. 

The QAD visit in May 2012 had required Alexander to submit closing meeting notes and respond to discussion points by 7 June 2012. The institute received one email explaining he was unwell and would reply at a later date, but got no further correspondence, despite chasing him up in August and September. His case was subsequently referred to the Investigation Committee, with further correspondence informing him of this move.

With no further reply from the accountant by the end of October, the PAC referred the matter for investigation. In May 2013, the ICAEW told Alexander that the four matters had been referred to the IC, who then referred it to the disciplinary committee.

The tribunal found all complaints proven. Aggravating factors included Alexander's previous disciplinary records, the continuity of his failings over long periods of time and QAD's identification of a number of "serious issues" in his practice. 

Comments

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vowlesj's picture

is the ICAEW toothless?    4 thanks

vowlesj | | Permalink

I wonder a) what do his clients know about this? and b) is he is still trading? and c) will he bother to pay the fine?

There are several stuck off accountants near me who are still trading, including one who simply scraped the words 'chartered' off his sign-written office window and kept on going.

So how toothless is the ICAEW (or ACCA, ICAS, etc.) if a struck off accountant can still advertise themselves to the general public and work as a public practice accountant?   And apart from the catchet of being a chartered or certified accountant why bother being a member if it doesn't really matter?

Perhaps we need to get legal protection for the word 'accountant' in much the same way as Doctors and Solicitors do.  At least this way those who spent the time and took the trouble to be a professionally qualified and registered (and regulated!) accountant would know there was a a good reason it.

Non Qualified    19 thanks

nicola.morganharris | | Permalink

Can I just point out that being non-qualified does not mean that you are a bad accountant in much the same was as being qualified (and a member of the ICAEW) does not guarentee that you are good!

 

ICAEW    3 thanks

steverun@hotmai... | | Permalink

Agree with vowlesj the ICAEW is more than toothless and as for its QAD??

Makes you wonder why you bother to qualify when anyone can practise as an accountant. In fact I dropped the name from my letter head 3 years ago and it has not made a scrap of differnce.

Good for him!    6 thanks

cne333 | | Permalink

"There are several stuck off accountants near me who are still trading, including one who simply scraped the words 'chartered' off his sign-written office window and kept on going.There are several stuck off accountants near me who are still trading, including one who simply scraped the words 'chartered' off his sign-written office window and kept on going."

He is probably a BRIALLANT accountant but just one that is completely fed up with all the beaurocratic tosh layered on him by the ICAEW that gets in the way of providing a cost-effective service to his clients!

 

Consolidation is needed!    4 thanks

PG1234 | | Permalink

The term 'accountant' will never gain legal recognition while there are no fewer than 6 chartered accountancy bodies in the UK. Once the accountancy profession finally consolidates into one professional body the regulators will finally yield to the profession and give them the same legal title as doctors and lawyers. 

vowlesj's picture

to qualify or not to qualify    1 thanks

vowlesj | | Permalink

Quite right Nicola, but part of my point is that if you are going to have a system of regulating accountants then it has to mean something when they identify a bad un and try to get rid of them!

when pigs fly    2 thanks

SJH-ADVDIPMA | | Permalink

PG1234 wrote:

The term 'accountant' will never gain legal recognition while there are no fewer than 6 chartered accountancy bodies in the UK. Once the accountancy profession finally consolidates into one professional body the regulators will finally yield to the profession and give them the same legal title as doctors and lawyers. 

So that's never then?

Tom 7000's picture

well....

Tom 7000 | | Permalink

You need to pay your subs and keep going so you have an audit licence...

 

If you dont have one....well.....

6 ??

penguin | | Permalink

Apart from ICAS and ICAEW what are the other 4 chartered accountancy bodies.

The "brilliant" accountant cne333 refers to had a history of disciplinary problems and serious issues regarding his practice.

lenient

SJH-ADVDIPMA | | Permalink

What's the annual cost of being a member in practice with Icaew? Are they fleecing there members at the long term detriment of their organisation?

2 years seems a bit lenient

vowlesj's picture

good for him or bad for everyone else?

vowlesj | | Permalink

Part of my problem CNE333 is that actually he was struck off after doing time for VAT fraud - at this point I have to say according to news reports at the time and it was some years ago and I have never met him or know if he is a brilliant accountant or a bad apple.   So for him scraping the name off his window and still trading is fine because that is how he still earns a living as an accountant - but what if the leopard hasn't changed his spots and he remains a dodgy accountant?   And more importantly what about all the customers who might have misplaced faith and trust in him - and if he was struck off shouldn't that actually mean something more than just changing the letterhead?

bookmarklee's picture

Protecting the title ‘accountant’ would be counter-productive    1 thanks

bookmarklee | | Permalink

The idea of trying to get legal protection for the title 'accountant' comes up every few years.

Back in 2008 (I'm surprised it was that long ago) the Lib Dems proposed a motion to protect the term 'accountant'. It didn't happen. I don't think it ever will. Similarly there is no facility to regulate 'accountants' beyond the obligation to register with a regulator for Anti-Money laundering purposes. It wouldn't surprise me if, at some point, HMRC also introduced preferential facilities only for accountants who satisfy certain criteria - with membership of an approved professional body possibly providing a short-cut

Beware the law of unintended consequences. I first shared this view on AccountingWeb in 2008 and then updated my thinking for a blog post in 2010: Protecting the title ‘accountant’ would be counter-productive

Mark

ps: ICAEW explain on their website what they do to protect the title 'chartered accountant'

 

 

Banned accountant    3 thanks

P J BROWNE | | Permalink

So, does Fred Goodwin FCA still have his practising certificate? What did he cost HIS clients - and the country?

QBE

elmer121 | | Permalink

It continues to amaze me that, as a QBE, I watch 'qualifieds' prejudice their qualification - whereas us guys who were unsuccessful at our finals have to make do with QBE  status!

No such thing as QBE

penguin | | Permalink

You may be experienced but you are still unqualified like someone who cannot pass a driving test

johnjenkins's picture

I'm all for

johnjenkins | | Permalink

One body. Rather like the Institute of taxation, but open to anyone regardless of education. Certainly any college quals or degree would exempt some levels. You could have an intermediate, somewhat more detailed than AAT. All personal and business details would be logged with that body so that HMRC wouldn't need any further info for "agent strategy - whenever that may come".

Why two years?

Alexdon | | Permalink

He obviously doesn't want to be a member anymore otherwise he would abide by the rules. He won't bother to pay the fine as it is unenforceable so will be expelled eventually. Just kick him out now.

penguin...    2 thanks

justsotax | | Permalink

using your analogy - doesn't say much for some of the idiots who have a licence to drive a car - a driving licence does not guarantee a good driver...or perhaps you don't drive on the UK roads?

Other accountants

pwinter | | Permalink

penguin wrote:

Apart from ICAS and ICAEW what are the other 4 chartered accountancy bodies.

CIMA, ACCA, ICAI, CIPFA

Flash Gordon's picture

Point of protecting term    10 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

What's the point of protecting the term 'accountant' when the various bodies can't be bothered to make sure that their members are actually providing a decent service? I'd have to say that most of the crappy accountants I've ever come across have been qualified (by exams). Yes you get the odd one who is crap and not 'qualified' but they're usually the type who have decided that accountancy sounds like a good way to make a quick buck and haven't actually bothered getting any experience first. They can often be found asking the really scarily-bad questions on AWeb!

Exams are all well and good but they barely begin to touch on the real stuff that we need to know in practice. That stuff you only pick up by actually doing it. So I don't think that belittling those who've not done the exams but have years of solid working experience under their belts is a great idea. (And in case anyone thinks I'm biased I'm ex-FCCA so I did pass the exams - I just got fed up of handing over money and not even getting a bit of old rope in return)  

 

ShirleyM's picture

QBE    4 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

I know one or two real tax gurus who are not tax qualified, but their knowledge is extensive and far better than the average accountant (qualified or not).

One of the dangers with only allowing 'qualified accountants' is .... what happens when it goes a stage further ... and tax qualified accountants think that accountants without specific tax qualifications should not be permitted to prepare tax & VAT returns? What's good for the goose is good for the gander. That would be fair, don't you think? Then we would have the problem of insufficient tax qualified accountants, so they could name their price, whether they are good, bad or indifferent? Be careful what you wish for.

I wouldn't object to all accountants being regulated, so long as it is for the benefit of the public and accountants, and not a monopoly money spinner for some regulatory agency.

farouqtaj's picture

Simply remove him from the ICAEW

farouqtaj | | Permalink

The person in question has failed to meet the standards required by the ICAEW. Furthermore he has not demonstrated an interest in remaining with the accountancy body. He should simply be removed from the ICAEW and a check made to ensure he isn't advertising himself as a Chartered accountant.

Chartered Accountants - my comments    2 thanks

Donald6000 | | Permalink

I am afraid that most Chartered Accountants with whom I have worked have been extremely bad at either making decisions, keeping their caseloads together, or doing anything that resembles real work. 

I am sorry that you wish for legal protection for what in a lot of cases represents gross negligence. As for taking the time and trouble to take the ICAEW examinations, a lot of us take the time and trouble (as in my case) to take both an Accountancy BA (Hons) and a law degree following that, yet we are continually subject to people telling us they are "good accountants" just because they passed ICAEW.

I personally would not want to be a member of any of these organisations as I am afraid I never hear anything good of them and I am afraid that in a lot of cases their professional qualification stands for nothing.

So let us go forward without the hopeless hypocrisy, shall we?

 

johnjenkins's picture

I'm a member

johnjenkins | | Permalink

of FIFA. A Fellow of the Institute of Financial Accountants and we have a leader that IMV typifies bodies getting money for old rope, or perhaps building sand castles.

You may be experienced...    2 thanks

Donald6000 | | Permalink

penguin wrote:

You may be experienced but you are still unqualified like someone who cannot pass a driving test

 

Thank you for your piece of codology, which I found quite indigestible.

Perhaps you would please let us all know you people who are qualified manage to disgrace their institutes and associations on an ever increasing basis.

carnmores's picture

its the same old story    1 thanks

carnmores | | Permalink

Its not about the customers its about the stakeholders sorry big 4

Fred Goodwin

ken of chesterl... | | Permalink

I hate to say it, but is he not a CA? 

As a CA (retired) I'd love to find out he isn't.

Furore    1 thanks

Casterbridge Ha... | | Permalink

Their are bad apples in every barrel and qualification and protection of designation does not change this - a case in point Shipman.

"Accountant" will never get

wot | | Permalink

"Accountant" will never get legal protection like doctor or solicitor whilst the costs and extent of training involved in the latter professions are so much more extensive.

The government will always be able to point out that the market for accountancy services functions satisfactorily (or at least no worse than other markets) with qualified and non qualified accountants competing. The public can make their own choice.

QBE accountants will get another opportunity to take market share now that that solicitors won't require annual Accountants Reports from October 2014. 

Trades like electricians, plumbers gas fitters used to be segregated - now tradesmen who have multi skills are common. The professions will probably develop the same way so that an one man can be your insurance broker / solicitor and accountant.

johnjenkins's picture

@wot

johnjenkins | | Permalink

think you got things arse about face.

Years ago Accountants used to be allsorts, now it has become more specialised.

Similar with plumbers and electricians. One person used to do the boiler, now it normally needs a plumber and an electrician. The cost of qualifications for tradesman prohibit a lot of multi tasking, never mind EU and H&S.

There are, of course builders that can do all trades, but are not allowed to "sign off" certain jobs.

Would regulation for all be good?    1 thanks

secondhand_22 | | Permalink

I'm qualified and I'm hesitant to push for regulation for all.  Not because I don't believe that a profession (or anyone implicitly purporting to be a member of one) should be regulated but because of how any 'regulation for all' would be put in place.

If brought in, the QBEs/ex-HMRC call centre phone answerer/bookkeeper done good who hold themselves out as accountants will get themselves into the club and they will obtain the legitimacy and status that their inability to pass exams currently denies them.

Under the current scheme, at least we know who they are - and can rattle their cages on AW every now and again!

Flash Gordon's picture

Snobbery?    5 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

secondhand_22 wrote:

I'm qualified and I'm hesitant to push for regulation for all.  Not because I don't believe that a profession (or anyone implicitly purporting to be a member of one) should be regulated but because of how any 'regulation for all' would be put in place.

If brought in, the QBEs/ex-HMRC call centre phone answerer/bookkeeper done good who hold themselves out as accountants will get themselves into the club and they will obtain the legitimacy and status that their inability to pass exams currently denies them.

Under the current scheme, at least we know who they are - and can rattle their cages on AW every now and again!

It sounds a tad snobbish to suggest that non-quals have an 'inability to pass exams' in my opinion. How about those who have the knowledge but don't perform well in an exam situation for various reasons? Or those who couldn't afford to study when they were starting out and don't see the point know? Or those who don't / didn't have the time given their personal circumstances but got excellent training within their employment? There's a whole host of reasons and I'd wager that most QBEs aren't non-qualified because they tried exams and failed, but instead because of the reasons I set out and more. Passing exams means that you can memorise something and put it on an exam paper. It doesn't mean that you can apply it in real life.

And why would you want to rattle their cages? 

Flash - I feel a little misunderstood    1 thanks

secondhand_22 | | Permalink

If the exams are unpassed then they are unpassed.  My use of the word "inability" wasn't designed to denigrate any particular reason a person may have for not passing/their inability.

Inability is a broad word - inability can take many forms - as you demonstrate perfectly in your reply by listing many examples.  Inability to pass exams due to not performing well in exams or not having time to study or any of the other excuses you put out there still equals inability to pass the exams.

If you read "inability" as (for example) "inability due to lack of ability to memorise" that is your reading.  Not my writing.

I can't be bothered to over explain my comment about cage rattling.

I think the way you have both read my post and leapt on it says more about you than it does about my post.   I certainly don't think that wanting my exam passing/memorisation abilities to be recognised is unfair or snobbish - rather than being lumped in with those who (for whatever reason - the reason is irrelevant) haven't taken and passed the exams.

 

 

multi skilled arse about facing

wot | | Permalink

johnjenkins wrote:

think you got things arse about face.

Years ago Accountants used to be allsorts, now it has become more specialised.

Similar with plumbers and electricians. One person used to do the boiler, now it normally needs a plumber and an electrician. The cost of qualifications for tradesman prohibit a lot of multi tasking, never mind EU and H&S.

There are, of course builders that can do all trades, but are not allowed to "sign off" certain jobs.

 

Specialisation at something you you excel is great if it's a possibility. I don't think it is for most general accountants these days unless you're at a major firm.

 

Younger tradesman these days have to have multi skills to compete. Compliance and training costs are high but not as high as the cost of being underemployed. 

A cheaper alternative is for a couple of multi skilled tradesman to band together. Each is proficient at plumbing / electrics / gas fitting but only one holds the qualification to sign off.  

 

Actually getting a tame  accountant or tradesman to sign off on a job is the easy bit. Its the getting in the job with a good margin that is more difficult.

johnjenkins's picture

@wot

johnjenkins | | Permalink

I don't think people have the time to multitask anymore. I know how to do payroll and VAT but don't have the time. So the jobs go to specialised people.

There is also so much finicky stuff to learn purely because of EU etc. Money Laundering and reporting - load of crap for most Accountants. It's like saying to us "don't forget to put trousers/skirt/dress/shorts on before you go to work".

I find it quite condescending to be told to do something that is common sense when the people telling you what to do haven't got a clue (that's why Farage will do extraordinarily well next year).

Anyway the one man band Accountant/tradesman will soon be extinct (10-20 years). 

UBE    1 thanks

penguin | | Permalink

Some of the above stuff by unqualifieds but experienced is ridiculous . You say money laundering regulations is a load of crap for most accountants.

Flesh Harry says that passing exams means memorising something. Flesh, passing exams is merely the start of a professional career it means that you start a life long profession and should be proud and honoured to be part of a professional body that is recognised the world over. Being part of it means you have a duty to adhere to the highest professional standards and be part of life long learning.

Flash Gordon's picture

@ penguin    2 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

That was so funny I nearly spat my belgian bun over the keyboard. Thank god I didn't have a cup of tea instead. It could have got messy. You're a comedian aren't you?!! Bless. 

Cage rattling    1 thanks

wot | | Permalink

secondhand_22 wrote:

If the exams are unpassed then they are unpassed.  My use of the word "inability" wasn't designed to denigrate any particular reason a person may have for not passing/their inability.

Inability is a broad word - inability can take many forms - as you demonstrate perfectly in your reply by listing many examples.  Inability to pass exams due to not performing well in exams or not having time to study or any of the other excuses you put out there still equals inability to pass the exams.

If you read "inability" as (for example) "inability due to lack of ability to memorise" that is your reading.  Not my writing.

I can't be bothered to over explain my comment about cage rattling.

I think the way you have both read my post and leapt on it says more about you than it does about my post.   I certainly don't think that wanting my exam passing/memorisation abilities to be recognised is unfair or snobbish - rather than being lumped in with those who (for whatever reason - the reason is irrelevant) haven't taken and passed the exams.

 

 

rattle somebody's cage

to make someone angry on purpose Etymology: based on the idea of rattling (making a noise by repeatedly hitting) the cage to annoy the animal inside it The idea is you make someone else angry, not yourself!

Flesh Harry

penguin | | Permalink

I am an experienced comedian with no qualifications whatsoever, so we have something in common.

Flash Gordon's picture

'Inability' to read    1 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

penguin wrote:

I am an experienced comedian with no qualifications whatsoever, so we have something in common.

You obviously struggle to read or you'd have known that I qualified with the ACCA. But don't worry, I have a feeling that you've been a source of much entertainment before and will be again. 

johnjenkins's picture

@penguin    2 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

I am qualified, not that that has to do with anything. I have been practicing for very nearly 50 years (how many years). So when I say ML etc. is crap you can rest assured it is crap.

When I say our bodies are crap etc. etc.

Now back to the profession. I really hate to agree with you ( I actually hate agreeing with anyone) but I whole heartedely endorse the fact that we are a much respected bunch of witty enthusiasts who (most) have very high standards about their work and really do not need to be told that you have misfiled a schedule which MUST be put right before the next inspection.

FCCA    1 thanks

penguin | | Permalink

Just Googled FCCA as I had no idea what it was. Now I know Fellowship of Christian Churches in Africa.

johnjenkins's picture

There's me thinking    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

it meant Fellow Chaterers Conserving Aweb.

Flash Gordon's picture

FCCA    1 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

Fantastic Chaps Challenging A-holes?

 

BKD's picture

Must be nearly the weekend    3 thanks

BKD | | Permalink

Someone else trying to circumvent a ban :¬)

(They ought to know better than to post abusive PM's)

who actually does the work

cthed | | Permalink

The accountancy  firms I deal with are large, and whether they are Chartered or not doesn't really matter as mostly they are out at one lunch or jolly or another and it is the account managers that actually does the work not the accountants! In exactly the same way another profession is the same Lord Rogers regularly wins awards for architectural design when in fact he rarely has anything to do with the designs it is the team of architects in his studio that has the inspiration!! But that's another story. And then there is the solicitors firm I deal with in my business that charges me a certain rate for whatever level (years of experience)  the solicitor is at but it is the solicitors secretary that actually does all the work. 

stepurhan's picture

No, it IS your writing    4 thanks

stepurhan | | Permalink

secondhand_22 wrote:
If you read "inability" as (for example) "inability due to lack of ability to memorise" that is your reading.  Not my writing.
To use the standard English definition.

inability - the state of being unable to do something

So "inability to pass exams" is the state of being unable to do pass exams. Not taking exams at all is not inability, whatever reason you have for not taking them. If you had to use inability in that context, it would be "inability to TAKE exams". Even that is a stretch, because someone might be capable of taking exams (so not unable), but choose not to do so.

You don't need to explain your "rattling the cages" comment. That's just a cheap and not particularly funny joke.

johnjenkins's picture

Anyone    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

for tennis?

FARCE    1 thanks

Casterbridge Ha... | | Permalink

Why do so many of these exchanges degenerate in to hotly contested disputes about the qualified/unqualified issue?  Someone please advise me of how these spats are relevant to the article about the chap being suspended>

johnjenkins's picture

@Casterbridge Ha

johnjenkins | | Permalink

You obviously never had Accountants banter when you were training. The Construction Industry banter is nearly as good. What sort of banter do you like?

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