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ACCA Practising Certificate Advice needed

ACCA Practising Certificate Advice needed

I applied for an ACCA Practising Certificate in August last year following the death of my father but it has been rejected but now put forward to the waiver committee. 

Let me give you some background:

My father set up the practice in 1969 and was a Chartered Secretary in Private Practice. I joined the firm in 1990 when, to be honest, it was financially on its knees and helped Dad modernise and develop the business (working for peanuts as you do working for family!).

In 1999 I started taking the ACCA examinations and completed all 14 papers over 3 years (whilst working full time) passing every paper first time and, with my father's supporting submissions evidencing experience, became an ACCA member in December 2002. In December 2007 I became a Fellow of the Association.

I had not applied for a Practising Certificate previously as my father was still at the head of the practice even though, in reality, I had become the leading figure in terms of attracting new clients etc but it had always been agreed between us that I would only take the lead when he was happy to relinquish control. I was not comfortable being the certificate holder if he was still going to call all the shots.

We agreed that Dad would go into semi-retirement towards the end of 2010 and therefore from 2007 we started preparing my PCTR (Practising Certificate Training Record). I believe Dad had spoken to the ACCA and had understood that they would look at my application once that was done. What I now understand is that his signature was fine for membership but as the firm was not an ACCA Approved Employer it would be rejected for the Practising Certificate.

Everything was going fine with 2 and a half years of PCTR completed with the final period running to 31 May 2010 but on 25 April 2010 Dad was unexpectedly admitted to hospital (6 days before my wedding day), went into a coma on 27 April 2010 and died on 10 May 2010.

Once things calmed down my application to the ACCA went in in early August.  My sister took control of our "non qualified" practice on the understanding that in reality Dad wanted me to take control, and I wanted to take control, but I needed the Practising Certificate from ACCA to do so.

I heard back from the ACCA declining the application because Dad was not a member of a recognised body sufficient for the Practising Certificate criteria but that my application could be put forward to the Waiver Committee.

I gathered a volume of references (including from three other ACCA Practising Certificate holders), wrote a full report and waited. Time passed (7 months!) and only now have I heard back that the Committee will hear the application next month and that I should attend the hearing.

I have to prove the circumstances are exceptional and explain why I hadn't joined an ACCA Approved Employer. The problem was my loyalty to the family practice - had I left the practice would have collapsed and there is no doubt over that. Even if I had joined a firm and taken the clients with me where would that have left my parents?

So, here I am an FCCA with 20 years experience completely capable of doing everything I need to do with my PCTR having more ticks next to categories of experience than most I'm sure and yet I am on the verge of having to resign should my application be declined. It pains me to consider that someone with far less experience gets waved straight through purely because an ACCA Employer signs them off.

Yes in theory I could go and work for someone, or merge the firms but that was never the plan and financially it would make no sense bearing in mind we have built a 300 client practice and the business is doing well. I just cannot allow the practice with 42 years history to die.

Yes, also in theory it would make no real difference being "non qualified" and I could apply to other professional bodies should I choose to (any recommendations as to which is best?!) but that is not why I studied to ultimately become an ACCA member (or indeed a Fellow).

I am pushing ahead with the ACCA Practising Certificate Application because I want the business to develop and succeed but the whole system just feels so unjust right now and, yes I guess today I feel rather disillusioned so I am looking to my accounting web colleagues for advice!

Has anyone got any experience of the Waiver Committee and particularly what are they looking for me to prove as being exceptional circumstances?


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19th Jul 2011 13:30

No Constructive advice

I've got no constructive advice to offer, but wish you well. It sounds like in a sane world it should be approved.

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By sanjiro
19th Jul 2011 13:52

As above

Sorry I also can't give any advice but will agree that ACCA's rules for practising certificates are ridiculous.

I do however wish you all the best in your hearing.


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19th Jul 2011 15:11

The ACCA do not care and they are not worth the effort.......

If they can be cavalier as to suggest that only by working for an ACCA approved practice you are worthy of their PC, then are they worth it? I didn't even bother with a PC (I trained in an unapproved ACCA practice too) in the end and resigned, despite being FCCA for 5 years and a member for 10.  I resigned from ACCA on 1 April this year and you will not believe the indignant tone in response to my resignation letter. If that's how they want to treat someone who has spent literally £2,000 in subs, exams etc in the last 10 years, then I'm glad I did so.

When looking for a succession partner I came across a few people who are AAT members in practice and licenced. Many of them have undertaken ACCA studies but they are breaking the ACCA rules if they do more than bookkeeping, VAT and payroll.

If the choice is between a good client base, firm AND YOUR LIVELIHOOD and satisfying the ACCA's draconian PC rules, I think it's a straightforward choice. I really do sincerely wish you the best for your appeal and hope you get the decision overturned in your favour.


ACCA you are likely to lose yet another decent certified accountant due to your pathetic rules.

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19th Jul 2011 15:43

Doing the right thing....

Thank you for the comments thus far and it is sad to say the general reaction is not positive.

From my point of view I have already spoken to the AAT this morning (felt like a climb down!) but their reaction was very positive eg full membership immediately, submit the references and PCTR I had to ACCA and expect the Practising Certificate within 4 weeks. Another refreshing comment from them is that CPD has no minimum number of hours but you must prove you do enough to keep up to date.

So that is plan B and being a non-audit firm the argument is "why do I really need to be ACCA registered?"

The answer to that question though is that I did not study so hard, pass all the exams at first sitting, apply for membership, be proud of becoming a FCCA member etc to lose it now.

I want to take the practice over, become an ACCA Approved Employer, train up the current staff, and future staff, and encourage them to go the ACCA route and do everything that is good and proper to develop and build our practice in the future.

Our reputation as a small practice in our area is fantastic - we've never advertised and very very rarely lose clients unless they die or cease in business.

I just assume that the Waiver Committee exists for circumstances such as mine.

In the meantime I've applied for full membership of the AAT just in case my hopes are off course.........

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By happy
19th Jul 2011 17:35


I dont usually comment on here but my goodness this is UTTER UTTER MADNESS, as a fellow FCCA with a practising certficate I can not express what utter madness this is.

The ACCA need to get a a grip on reality - dont we have enough to contend with without this type of stupidity!?

If you need a letter of support from another FCCA member I'll gladly do one for you if it helps.

I truly wish you all the best and hope the ACCA see the light.



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19th Jul 2011 20:51

Yes Youngloch

I agree fullheartedly with your sentiments. I too sweat tears and hours of work in exams and 5 years of evening classes to pass my AAT and then ACCA. But just because you did not train with an ACCA approved firm does not mean that you are incapable, or unworthy of their PC. I trained with a Chartered firm, but it accounts for nothing as far as the ACCA are concerned. But their rules much as they are mean I cannot hold their PC. How daft is that?

It took me months to make the decision to resign as an ACCA member, but it does not mean I am not fully qualifed and it doesn't mean they can take away my qualification or demean it. I simply don't belong to the "club" anymore or use the letters.

I have an AAT PC and they are more helpful, have more relevent and local courses to me, they have excellent local branches and CPD accessibility. Going the AAT route is not a backward step. It is one I have taken because of my hand being forced and I have no regrets.

Still, I hope they see sense and grant you your appeal. 

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19th Jul 2011 21:07

IF you can't get ACCA, try ICPA
I'd suggest ICPA if you don't get anywhere with ACCA. They're not CCAB but are reputable in their own right and only need references from other professionals to support membership applications to prove you've been in practice and are of good standing. What's more important membership includes PI Insurance and online CPD as well as discounts for software, tax enquiry insurance, etc etc. They're far more helpful for the small practitioner and do support your needs - unlike the ACCA who really should get a grip! I'm FCCA and many times have seriously considered giving it up because they provide no help or support at all - it's only the worry of rule tightening and maybe extending small company audits again that frightens me into keeping the ACCA status.

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20th Jul 2011 08:28

AAT Licensed Member in Practice is a good 'second best'

 I am in the same position as you in that I qualified ACCA but critically had moved to industry prior to qualification. Some years ago ACCA said that I could re-apply via the waiver committee provided I paid the 10 or so years back membership fees. Instead I joined the MAAT Lic MIP scheme. They give good support, are recognised by 106 lenders, are an approved organisation for money laundering supervision and most importantly ... clients don't give a stuff really. ACCA don't exactly get a great press on here from members so perhaps looking elsewhere is not a bad idea.

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20th Jul 2011 09:51

@Steve Holloway

InterestingSteve that ACCA re-approached you after a few years, so I assume you must have resigned too?

I wonder if after 10 years, perhaps they will ask ex-members and FCCAs like me and Youngloch  if we would like to rejoin.

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20th Jul 2011 10:08

Opposite direction I suspect ...

 I asked them earlier this year whether the opportunity still existed for me to re-join via the waiver route ... was left in no dount that it was not. I only really asked them to assess my options should legislation ever be introduced to protect the 'accountant' title or some other similar provision. I suspect that the AAT being recognised as a money laundering supervisor (the only non CCAB I think) would see me OK anyway.

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20th Jul 2011 11:17


Good luck with the ACCA.  Sorry to hear of your father's passing. You can practice/ complete your ACCA PC requirements.  under our name if you like.  We won't want anything for it, just so long as it can be structured in such a way as to avoid financial risk or undue time resources to us in respect of your practice work.   

I know of similar situation some years ago, however ACCA were fairly accomondating there, and so you might be OK anyway.



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20th Jul 2011 12:49

Thank you for continued comments

Thank you all for your continuing comments and I can see I am not the only one to experience this position.

Thank you as well for the kind offer regarding allowing us to practice under another firms practising certificate.

Overall I am keen to pursue this all the way to the Waiver Committee and hope that a correct decision will be made. I have to confess though that I am having to remind myself that it is I who am taking the case to them rather than me being ordered to appear before them!

Surely the pure existence of the Waiver Committee means that there is a mechanism within the ACCA for my circumstances.

One other point I would make is that an associate of mine with his own ACCA practising certificate, and one of three such referrees I provided as part of my application last August, has announced he intends to come with me to the Hearing to lend his weight!

Comments continue to be welcomed because, as a current member of the ACCA, I am concerned to hear that mine is not an isolated case and that the Association is attracting Students, Affiliates, Members and then Fellows only for them to have to resign at the end of it all.

It just seems to me that the true test of an applicant should be their knowledge and experience especially if they do not intend to practice as an auditor.

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21st Jul 2011 17:23

General Practice (PC) - non audit

I agree that for a PC in GP, rather than audit it is absolute overkill. Oh well, 'tis the ACCA's loss not mine.


I sympathise with Steve Holloway's thoughts about prof bodies and HMRC approval. It crossed my mind and hence my reluctance up to recently to resign. But I'm afraid that after turning away perfectly good final accounts and tax work because my professional body wont let me was hampering the growth of my practise. It pains me as I have been preparing and advising in such a way since 1995. If it's okay if I'm an employee (and can be FCCA), why as a self-employed person can I not do this? So I am FCCA no more and now just a happy MiP of AAT. 


Best of luck Youngloch.

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By Locutus
21st Jul 2011 20:55

It's all rather sad really
Not just the situation described by the opening poster, but the fact that after studying for maybe 3 or 4 years to pass ACCA's exams, that body (of which I am a member) feels that those exams do not give sufficient experience to act for the general public.

Why not just make those exams more useful to 'real world' situations? Members who wish to go into general practice and whom have not been lucky enough to have been employed by an ACCA approved training practice should be given help with whatever deficiencies ACCA thinks they have in their knowledge rather than punished for opportunities that did not exist in the past.

ACCA has lost a lot of perfectly good members due to their out of date view of general practice.

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22nd Jul 2011 08:20

Even more absurd ...

 is that you could be ACCA qualified for 5, 10 or 20 years and still be tied by the specific circumstances of the 2 years following your qualification. You would think it would be a money spinner to offer a 'practice' exam to bring people on board.

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22nd Jul 2011 09:31

ICAEW are just as bad
I was going to do the ICAEW pathways scheme to move from ACCA to ACA, but what they required was ridiculous. As a sole trader for over a decade, I didn't know an ACA well enough who could support my application. I had ACA's who I worked with and for, at previous employments, but because they were 10-20 years ago, they didn't count. ICAEW were completely inflexible and my almost 30 years of experience, 25 years of being ACCA, and 10 years of running my own practice counted for zilch.

Sad to say, but the accountancy bodies are going to cause their own extinction if they don't change their ways. ACCA is completely irrelevant to me - I couldn't give a toss about international accounting, or their latest office in Lagos, or Sarbanes or whatever. I joined ICPA for the insurance and CPD, and couldn't be more pleased with their real support for the small practitioner by providing relevant software offers, relevant CPD, relevant magazine, etc.

The only reason I'm staying with ACCA is fear of the future. Who knows whether statutory audits will be re introduced at lower company sizes? Who knows whether the banks' tighter lending criteria will mean they go back to requiring CCAB accountants to give references? Who knows what HMRC criteria will be introduced to control/supervise agents in the future, especially with the proposed "self serve".

I'm certainly not staying with ACCA for any of their supposed "benefits of membership" which are completely irrelevant to the small practitioner.

To the OP, I wouldn't stress yourself about it. If you can get a practising certificate, fair enough, but otherwise, why not do what loads of others do, and just set up a limited company, don't call it "certified accountants", and have it employ you. Then you can keep your ACCA qualification, show the initials behind your name, but just not say that the firm is an ACCA firm. You may have to tweak shareholdings/directorships with your spouse/family to comply with the rules, but you'll end up with the same effect. I know of loads of practices that do it that way to get around the stupid practising certificate rules and they're not being challenged.

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22nd Jul 2011 10:07

At the risk of making myself unpopular

Surely we can understand where the ACCA is coming from here? While I sympathise with the OP's situation and agree that he could be every bit as experienced as he needs to be, you cannot escape from the fact that he has never worked under the appropriate supervision of a regulated firm.

It is a sad situation but I cannot see that the ACCA are being unreasonable although they could perhaps have offered more constructive solutions rather than flat refusals.

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22nd Jul 2011 10:53

Yes rules are rules

What does annoy me right now is that I know of other ACCA members who did work for ACCA approved firms and had their PCTR rubber stamped and the PC was automatically issued.

The annoyance is that I know of their work since, I have had occasions where they have asked MY advice for situations they were not sure of!!!

Bear in mind here that I have not been completely refused yet and the ACCA have compiled a report for the Waiver Committee - and a weighty tome it is too. It has obviously taken them some time (I don't think the 60 page PCTR helped! I had decided when preparing it not to do anything by halves)

So, hopefully in the end there is still a pathway through the rules but considering, as I started this comment saying, that other less experienced members got their PC's with no trouble the frustration is huge!!

Rules are rules but sometime they could be improved by adding a good old fashioned dose of common sense....... let's hope that the Waiver Committee contains that special ingredient!

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26th Jul 2011 15:38

ACCA farce

I will be very interested to hear the outcome of this thread. I do not mean to hijack but would like to add my story and encourage others to do so and hope someone senior at the ACCA takes this seriously.

I am an ACCA member (for what it is worth as noted above). I have always worked in industry (10 years) but am keen to start taking on clients on a part time basis with a view to opening a full time practice in 5-10 years time. My employer is not approved and cannot get approved because my supervisor is only an ACA with 20 years experience (never held a practising certificate and no intention to do so!).

Although I work in industry I get fantastic exposure to lots of different work that will help me in practice and have quite a large network to get clients from (I already have offers of private work).

My options seem to be:

Resign from the ACCA and practice unqualified

Resign from the ACCA and move over to AAT (if they will have me!)

Convince another ACCA practice to take my clients on and eventually get my own practising certificate

Why do the ACCA not make this absolutely clear when you sign up as a student that you should be working for an 'approved employer' if you intend to go into practice. Is it simply to not turn off the tap of subs fees?

Why is my non approved employer okay to sign off my membership but not a PCTR?

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26th Jul 2011 15:55

Why is my non approved employer okay to sign off my membership b

Trying not to sound to harsh here but obviously because they are not in practice. If this was your ulimate career goal you should have researched the rules more carefully.

Why do you think you are qualfied to run your own practice? If I were you I would consider moving to work for a firm of accountants that will provide you the necessary experience and allow you to get your log book signed off.


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26th Jul 2011 16:33

Fair point Roland but.......

I did not realise when I started my accountancy studies that I would want to go into practice years down the line. I think flexibility is the key as someone suggested earlier why not have a real life practice exam for those who cannot gain the necessary experience at an approved practice. I realise you need more than exam experience to go into practice but there just seems to be no options if you do not fit into the strict criteria. 

I think I will approach an ACCA practice I know about me doing the work and giving them a percentage of the fee to check it over. I know he can't be far off retiring anyway so maybe kill two birds as they say!

I feel I am qualified to go into practice because I have the relevant experience for the services I would like to offer (employment taxes, VAT, management accounts, self assessment etc) and also I never give up until I find the right answer (if I don't already know). I am also more than happy to say when I am not the best person to do a particular job and am a real people person hence wanting to offer my services and let clients decide if I am good or not!

I know this rule is probably more aimed at people that do the exams having never worked in accountancy related role but feel there is no flexibility for accountants that work in industry.

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By akramco
29th Sep 2011 19:21




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18th Aug 2011 10:54

Well I'm glad that this thread gave you a heads up on what may lie ahead!

The latest is I have been sent a bound booklet which will be presented to the Committee comprising the ACCA's comments (all of about 4 pages) and all my submissions (all of about 200 pages!)

The reason for ACCA rejection is two-fold in my case:

1. I need to prove that I have experience at a senior level and that my circumstances are exceptional such that I can be granted a waiver (even if on the basis that I must sit an open book case study and viva first).

2. In 2003 a client of my father's practice in all innocence when applying for a mortgage mentioned to his financial advisor that I had just qualified as an ACCA member and without even talking to us put me down on a mortgage application! It was quickly resolved with the ACCA and at the time they mentioned that I was not working for an ACCA Employer but that there was an alternative route which would be available should I wish. My father then spoke to ACCA who confirmed that in due course I should submit the training record and take it from there. It transpires now that this alternative route option was withdrawn in December 2009 and the ACCA therefore state that I should have been aware from 2003 that I was not working for a suitable employer (completely ignoring that they had advised of a possible alternative route and because it was withdrawn in December 2009 acting now as if it had never existed!).

and in a nutshell those are the two issues.

So as long as the panel of fine individuals who make up the Committee agree that my case is exception, that I have experience and agree with me regarding point 2 then I am hopeful.


In your case "akramco" I would suggest that once you achieve full membership that you apply to the AAT for membership. Yes it will be two subscriptions but so long as you are an ACCA full member you will be granted membership without further exams. Then, if you find yourself unable to find a suitable ACCA employer or cannot gain exemption via the Waiver Committee then you will have the option of an AAT Practising Certificate.

None of this is ideal but I would remind anyone reading this that the ACCA have a Waiver Committee for a reason and therefore I am sure that in some circumstances it is possible to circumnavigate the normal route. I am not expecting a walk in the park though and it seems to me that many before me have given up rather than even try.

Well I am looking forward to trying - months down the line and with submissions in hand which if we were using literal scales of justice would fall heavily on my side.

Some may ask why have I put myself through all of this rather than take the easier route - and the answer is because, rightly or wrongly, I value the ACCA qualification and I know I can do my job so why should I just give it up?

We will see.................

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By akramco
29th Sep 2011 19:21




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By Monsoon
to Ben Saunders
18th Aug 2011 15:41

Rules as I understand them

akramco wrote:

If I subscribe to AAT and get a practicing certificate with them I won't be forced to resign from ACCA will I?Yes

Will i still be an ACCA member? No

And with an AAT practicing certificate can I do all the tasks that I can do with an ACCA/ACPA/IFA/ICPA etc practicing certificate? for example act as an agent, and be able to support mortgage applications, and produce/sign off accounts for use of 3rd parties etc??? Yes, though there are some mortgage companies that don't accept them, but these are few. I'm not sure IFA and ICPA are fully accepted, I thought only ACCA, ACA and CIMA were the safe ones.

Wouldn't it be better to join ACPA or ICPA which are pretty reputable proffessional certified accountant bodies and gain a practicing certificate with them rather than AAT? Not necessarily, AAT is reputable and professional.

But if I'm granted a practicing certificate from them do I need to resign from my ACCA membership? Yes as otherwise you would be practising outside their rules i.e. no ACCA PC.

IIf an IFA/ACPA/ICPA accountant is a sole trader in his own practice for say 20 years, and then decides to do ACCA exams and becomes an ACCA member. Will he have to give up his practice just because he doesnt hold an ACCA practicing certificate? Yes. Nice, isn't it.


And that's why I never went on to become chartered. I'm not selling my business and getting a job.

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18th Aug 2011 14:23

ACCA Approved Employer

I would just clarify that you don't have to be ACCA yourself to be an ACCA Approved Employer.  We are a Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) practice.  Like many small practices, we could never get our trainees through the all-or-nothing ICAEW exams, so we gave up training students to become ACAs and switched to the less demanding pick-and-mix ACCA exam structure.  We have now been an ACCA Approved Employer for many years and all our trainees have become ACCAs.

A few years ago, the ICAEW came back to us and asked us to resume being an ICAEW training office now that they had adopted the pick-and-mix exam structure, but we declined as they had made it so difficult for small practices to train ACAs in the past.

It rather saddens me not to be churning out ACAs to follow in our footsteps, but if you are looking for ACCA Approved Employers, do not ignore ICAEW practices.

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19th Aug 2011 09:49

My father was a Chartered Secretary in Private Practice.....

My father was a Chartered Secretary in Private Practice (FCIS). In the 1960s when he qualified this was one of the top industry qualifications and to gain his Practising Certificate with them he had to jump through the same hoops that we have to now.

The trouble is that because the Institute was more focused on Industrial Company Law type issues that it did not end up becoming a recognised Accounting Body.

In later years Dad also became a ICPA but from the outside looking in that is just not seen as highly as ACCA.

AAT is I believe a fair 2nd best option as the same route of qualification through examinations applies and it is more closely tied to ACCA and ICAEW than the other Institutes. I have also heard favourable things about the CPD side of things and perhaps for a small practice therefore you could almost argue that it is a better fit than the big two BUT obviously we want our ACCA status to remain and be judged on what we can do and not necessarily who taught us.

Our family practice has taken on numerous cases from other ACCA firms where the standard of work and advice is quite frankly second rate and I find this the most frustrating thing of all.

Example: Last year we took on a 2 director/shareholder company with a positive balance sheet position (circa £80k) but due to the recession they have been gradually sliding backwards with losses of circa £20k a year. One glance at the accounts made me ask a very simply question "Why are you not drawing a combination of salary and quarterly dividends?", the clients answer "what's that then?"

They were paying something like £3000 a month in PAYE with all their monies being drawn by salary.

We advised them to go back to their accountants to ask if salary/dividends was a good option for them (you never know there could have been reasons) and the reply they got was "yes you could do that and yes it would help to reduce or even eliminate your losses".

Needless to say the client came to us and apart from anything else we took 30% off their annual accountancy fee without even trying.

So my point here is that the standard of your training cannot simply be judged on whether you worked for an ACCA Employer. My father was an excellent accountant who built up a 300 client practice from nothing over a 40 year period having never advertised. We all know there are plenty of bad ACCA and ICAEW accountants out there perhaps not geared towards the smaller client but if you work for them, guess what, you will have your PC rubber stamped in an instant..........

The Waiver Committee is surely there for a reason. If there was no way past the rules then they would not exist. The burden is on the applicant to prove their circumstances are exceptional and to demonstrate the necessary levels of ability and experience.

There is even an open book case study and VIVA interview process available with the Committee's approval which allows the applicant to prove their ability.

I believe there is a good case to say that ALL Applicants should have to prove this!

However going back to the ultimate question the process I am following is this:

I am an FCCA member with no PC at present (not controlling the practice unfortunately yet at huge inconvenience to all concerned)

I have been granted membership of the AAT so technically right now I am "FCCA MAAT"

I got membership of the AAT as I am currently an FCCA member

If the Waiver Committee allow my PC then great but I will keep the MAAT status as their CPD and support will no doubt be bonus compared to what I know of the ACCA support lines.

If my circumstances however are not seen as good enough and my PC is denied then the route will be open to apply for an AAT PC BUT in doing so I would then have to resign my ACCA membership BUT I would then at least have an affiliation that allows me to sign off accounts etc for a large number of lenders with others needing the support of an HMRC SA302 (which is what we currently do anyway).

If in years to come I wanted to rejoin the ACCA I could as long as I paid the subscription for all the intervening years. I would not have to resit any exams.

It is a step by step process. Do not panic and remember that no one can take away the fact that you passed all the ACCA exams and it is excellent grounding.

Speak to the ACCA about any concerns you have and try and find a route that will work for you.

The be all and end all though these days is that if you look after small clients you do not actually have to be a member of any bodies as most clients are only interested in the quality of the job we day.

Concentrate on maintaining the quality of your practice and you will not go wrong, as I mentioned before, there are plenty of affiliated firms out there who deliver a far worse service and even now, as a pure firm of "accountants", we still take many many more clients FROM them than we lose TO them.

However I still want my ACCA Practising Certificate!!!!!!!!!!!

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24th Aug 2011 10:21

similar situation & met with committee yesterday !!

Hi Youngloch

I too am in a similar but not identical situation and met with the committee yesterday.  Although my outcome was positive I still feel there are many hoops I must jump when the situation is not of my making.

I would be very interested to hear your comments regarding your hearing and also offer advice if nessecary if your have not attended yet.

So if you have questions like I do fire away.

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30th Aug 2011 12:27

I have sent you a private message

Hi "Samestory"

I sent you a private message towards the end of last week.

My Committee Hearing is tomorrow so I would be very interested to hear from you.

I will of course let everyone know the outcome of tomorrow as this thread has proved how many ACCA students/members may not be aware of the rules and hopefully will prove to be of assistance to others in the future.

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31st Aug 2011 15:13

....and now I have experience of a Committee Meeting

First things first it is an intense experience but I have to say that it is great that the ACCA have these procedures because it does allow you to feel that an element of justice exists.

6 members on the Committee (for me a combination of lawyer/barristers and Non-ACCA accountants)

1 presenting member from the ACCA

2 ACCA committee administrative officers

In my case the meeting lasted over two hours.

ACCA presented their case. Questions were asked of them.

I then presented my case. I spoke for about 20 minutes with some questions and points asked of me during the process.

Then one of my referrees, who had come with me, made his representations based on his personal experience of me and my work.


I feel I prepared well. I identified the issues and apparently came across well to the Committee. It is a very very daunting experience though and if I had not had experience of representing the practice at Court Hearings, Commissioners Hearings etc on behalf of clients in the past then I think I would have been incredibly nervous.

The thing I remembered is that at the end of the day there is always going to be a decision based on the facts and the rules and everyone is just doing their job.

Then it was question time, directed at me, which went on for over an hour.

Lots and lots of questions were posed - surprisingly few from the ACCA. Really probing and following up. I had anticipated this would happen and had spent, probably weeks, going through these scenarios in my head so I wouldnt accidentally trip myself up. You don't see 4 lawyers on a panel and expect an easy ride.

The worry would be that you could have nothing to hide but under interrogation (basically!) say one wrong word which gives a contrary impression. Be strong and at all times remember the reality of the situation that you are being questioned on. If you feel you are being misunderstood stand your ground and get the point across. The Committee cannot make an informed decision unless they are informed by you and they give nothing away!

In my case I had to prove an exceptional circumstance and then that I had the necessary experience.

The experience was never a problem but the exceptional circumstance part is key to ANY application and is incredibly hard to prove. If I could not prove that then I was told in no uncertain terms that (my words now!) I could be voted the best accountant in the world but I would still be turned down for a PC.

We all have views on that and I think 99% of us would say that PC's should be awarded on ability and not on who signed you off. It's not a perfect world but that's just not the way the system works - I sympathise but when you're caught in the middle of it it is not nice.


The ACCA rules as they now stand are VERY clear and that is that you have to be signed off by an ACCA Approved Employer and nothing else will do.

If you are reading this and concerned then take my advice (because I never found any independent advice anywhere on the web before I went through this):

Contact the ACCA and find out the worst case scenario now - do not delay because I would not wish this process on anyone.

Do not assume it will all be fine because in the long run if bad news is heading your way you want to know sooner so you can move on.


My argument came down to guidance provided in 2003 which indicated an alternative route for me. Guidance which arose from another issue with the ACCA but that they chose to mention at that time for future reference. That route no longer exists, so unless you have had such guidance from them in the past then do not think you can use the same reasons that I did because I doubt they will stand up.

Ultimately at no point in any discussions with the ACCA had I ever been told there would be a problem until the application went in. This was my exceptional circumstance but proving it was, as I say, really difficult.

If I say that right now, nearly 3 hours later, I still feel physically and mentally drained by the experience then you will I hope get the idea!


After the questioning the Committee left for about 15 minutes to consider their decision and I honestly felt it was a 50/50 bet - not a nice feeling!

However I am glad to say that my application was allowed BUT I have to complete a case study and VIVA interview to get the PC.

I guess now though it is in my hands - and I just hope it is worth it and that the tests I have to perform are "real world" and tests that any worthy "signed off" ACCA PC holder would have no problem completing because then I should be fine....

We'll see!

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20th Sep 2011 11:44

Case Study and Viva Fee


I am now planning with the ACCA a convenient time to complete the case study but one previously unstated fact is that there is a fee for completing this £650.00 so anyone going down this route should be aware!

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14th Oct 2011 14:17

Another update...

Case Study now completed - I had 14 days from date of receipt to complete it.

It was estimated to take at least 10 hours to write up and I spent probably more like 20 on it - largely because I had lots of experience to base my answers on.

I am not about to divulge the questions that were asked but suffice to say it is practice management and accounting standards based rather than preparing accounts/tax based although I am sure there are different versions of it.

Ultimately when you consider the reasons for it are so you can operate a practice in your own right then it seemed appropriate.

Depending on your level of experience then for someone without the proper grounding it would be daunting but if your experience is such that you would have got signed off by proceeding down the "normal" route then it is not particularly grueling but you MUST take it seriously and apply yourself to it.

Having completed it my honest opinion now is that every single member apply for a PC should have to do it!

Next stop is the interview.

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23rd Nov 2011 15:08

I'm doing mine now !!!

I'm doing mine now !!!


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13th Dec 2011 13:00

Nearly there - one way or the other....

VIVA interview now completed and waiting for the ACCA to put my case back to the Committee for the final decision.

Yes, this is a long process so anyone in a similar position should be prepared!

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17th Dec 2011 22:40

This tale now has an ending.......

Received confirmation this morning that I passed the case study and the viva interview and therefore, on receipt of the requisite cheque, a 2012 Practising Certificate will be issued to me.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread and I think I should sum up with some comments for anyone finding themselves in a similar situation to me.

Firstly, if you have good reasons as to why you could not follow the ACCA Approved Employer route then consider applying to the Waiver Committee. Based on my experience, whilst the process has taken 16 months from start to finish, I am pleased I saw it through until the end.

It would have been all to easy to walk away from the ACCA and write off my chances but ultimately I worked incredibly hard to pass the exams and gain the experience I did and sometimes you have to hold true to what you think is right. Fortunately in my situation the Waiver Committee served its purpose in providing what I believe was the right decision.

Secondly having now taken the case study and interview I have to say that I believe that ALL candidates applying for a PC should have to do it. Simply being signed off by an ACCA Approved Employer does not provide the safeguards that a one to one face contact interview (after preparing the case study) would have provided.

Of course most ACCA Approved Employers will only sign off candidates with the skills but no one can say that would apply to all surely?

If you know your stuff then why not take the case study and interview? Why should everyone not have to pay the £600+ fee that I had to?

Surely a significant audit risk exists to the ACCA that poorly qualified individuals are slipping through under the radar - and think of the fully jusitifed fund raising possibility!

It seems too many good ACCA members may have left the Association, lost their letters and suffered the moral kick it must give when in reality they are fine accountants.

Finally if you have not good an outstanding reason why you cant follow the Approved Employer route then take note of the problem early, speak to the ACCA and make sure you dont bury your head in the sand only to be disappointed later.

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26th Mar 2012 23:42

looking for outsourced work from acca approved employer

I am ACCA qualified and have lot of experience preparing final accounts for company/partnership and sole trader. As to get practicing certificate, I need to show ACCA three year of experience with approved employer but one way to do that is to get an outsourced work from that employer then you don't need to be employee. I am willing to do outsource work at no cost in order to achieve this requirement. If someone is interested please email me at [email protected] and I provide my updated details.



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13th Feb 2013 16:08

All this process of having to


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