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Compulsory accountancy bodies membership

raising standards

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This is quite an interesting article on compulsory membership

https://www.accountancyage.com/2021/05/24/aat-and-icaew-tussle-over-call...

I have come across some accountants who are not qualified or with the less prominent accountancy bodies but deliberately falsifying accounts for their clients so they do not pay tax.  Both parties are happy with the arrangement until client needs to apply for a mortgage. 

No doubt there are some very good unqualified accountants but there are so many dodgy ones that are no under scrutiny.  I would make anyone who is filing on behalf with their clients should be formally registered with HMRC (not just for Money Laundering) so they are aware and have Professional Indemnity Insurance.  Going forward any new accountants should be qualified with certain accountancy bodies.  It will not resolve the immediate issues with dishonest accountants but in the long run may raise standards.

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By hfiddes
25th May 2021 11:24

Interesting. I'm a little surprised at ICAEW not supporting the compulsory qualifications route but then I'm ICAS. Your post has prompted me to look up their response here:
https://www.icas.com/landing/tax/standards-of-tax-advice-hmrc-concerns-a...

They seem to favour service provider regulation and, in amongst the detail of their submission (linked in the above), is an interesting paragraph:
'It would be helpful to have a clear decision on whether some form of regulation of the tax profession is to be introduced or not; it is very difficult, if not impossible, to enforce standards when anyone is permitted to act as a tax agent or tax adviser. We recommend that the long-term aim should be to require that all tax agents should be qualified and should belong to one of the main professional bodies. There should be a transitional period, perhaps involving some form of affiliated status, to allow existing agents to adapt to the change.'

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Replying to hfiddes:
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By Paul Crowley
25th May 2021 11:54

When audit went through this process a new body was formed for those who had been auditing before the change.

Most of us just submit compliance stuff
So this has no meaning or benefit until all tax payers must use tax agents, and that will never happen.
An employee of any company that submits compliance stuff is inherently a tax advisor
The non qualifieds just need to receive money as employees or workers to drive a gaping chasm between intension and reality

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
25th May 2021 11:38

True, whilst I was always Company Secretary for one of my former clients I am now their salaried employee, what I charged as a fee is now my salary.

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By Paul Crowley
25th May 2021 11:28

Really?
A lot of responders on Aweb would fall foul of your opinions
Would you really want to risk your livelihood on the disciplinary decisions of your regulatory body?

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Calculatorboy
25th May 2021 12:02

Its protection for the public , if you are reasonably competent you have nothing to worry about, regulation only frightens the fraudulent and the inept .

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Replying to Calculatorboy:
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By Paul Crowley
25th May 2021 12:15

The majority of the public just want the job done, usually for as little fee as possible.
A better survey would be to ask how much extra taxpayers are prepared to pay for full regulation of the profession

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Calculatorboy
25th May 2021 13:58

as cheap as possible ?

Accountants here are sounding like second hand car salesmen...even they are regulated as traders

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By justsotax
25th May 2021 11:34

a sweeping statement suggesting many accountants actively encouraging fraud....I am old enough to remember 'loan schemes'.....wonder how many 'qualified' members actively pushed these type of schemes.

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Replying to justsotax:
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By Paul Crowley
25th May 2021 11:39

What about film schemes
And benefits paid in wine or treasury loan stock

The evils are in the scheme promoters, not the small unqualified accountant that does a good job.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Calculatorboy
25th May 2021 14:01

go tell that to the little old widowed lady I knew who fell foul of one of your lovely unregulated unqualified to the tune of 600k, leaving her penniless ,

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Replying to Calculatorboy:
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By Paul Crowley
25th May 2021 15:00

Crooks are crooks
Regulation does not stop crooks
PII does not cover deliberate crooked behaviour of the insured person.

I really worry about the people you know.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Calculatorboy
26th May 2021 13:20

You worried ? about a widowed pensioner who asked for my help?

Pi would have covered the negligence claim

Seriously its time to regulate the unregulated, sadly they have no understanding that it is not just" exams," that is a very tiny part of it

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
25th May 2021 11:36

Of course all the high profile incompetent ones are from ICAEW/ICAS etc, and a lot of the structured and marketed high net worth tax strategies came from that same pool, but lets concentrate on the little guys with input into this argument from these esteemed bodies who are incapable of governing their own members.

I would also mention that some of the questions on A Web from individuals who claim to be members of ACCA/ICAEW etc indicate these august bodies did not train them very well in the skills of marshalling facts, researching issues and asking pertinent questions, a fair few appear to do little research before posting and believe their badge equips them to stray into areas where they evidently have no relevant experience.

Glass houses and stones spring to mind.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Paul Crowley
25th May 2021 11:45

I took over a (for me) sizable job from one such qualified.
£100,000 Directors loan overdrawn and no s455 dealt with
Prior claimed that he did not know that the tax charge existed
Odd then that the directors loan was hidden in other debtors.

There were 2 companies. the intercompany account was £250,000 different, one from the other

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Calculatorboy
25th May 2021 12:13

of course qualifieds can sometimes be incompetent and fraudulent , but they are disciplined and are insured...the public has a level of protection .

I've seen some pretty horrific cases of fraud and incompetence by the uninsured snd unregulated , that resulted in prison sentences , sadly the clients were left with no recourse.

Some here are so obtuse about the issue

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Replying to Calculatorboy:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
25th May 2021 12:46

Not obtuse, merely saddled with a lifetime of dealing with both.

I have experienced a fair bit of incompetence over the years from qualified accountants (and of course unqualifieds), either when I did work full time in practice with ICAS firms when we took on new clients from others and observed what they had produced, or even observations of qualified staff at the firm I was myself with, whilst I was in practice on my own account or when consulting external accounts on behalf of my current employers.

You really think some PII and a governing body ,in the real world rather than in some abstract way, is that significant to client outcomes, both are likely in the main to be mere placeboes.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Calculatorboy
25th May 2021 13:52

Pi insurance is insurance , you don't expect to use, its there when things go wrong .
Only then will you realise how important it is

Any accountant who resists compulsory pi really should have a career move .

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Replying to Calculatorboy:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
25th May 2021 14:32

Of course it is sensible, but it is a placebo, PII half the time will give little protection to no protection, barriers to litigation deter most from taking action, so by fixating on PII you pretend it cures what ails, but really it does not.

If you want a fully regulated and examined industry fine, but lets make it a level playing field and add in experience, create a new accountancy/tax role, with its own syllabus, say only dealing with certain aspects within the SME market and make all , including those with membership of ICAEW/ICAS/ACCA etc, take the entrance test. You see some CAs and ACAs appear to be entering this market under a false flag- how broad does your work experience diary these days need to be to be awarded CA, ACA, or are large sections mere book learning and CPD?

When I trained not sure this would all have been necessary (apart from say big 8 students who never experienced any tax from one end of their three years to the next), our experience through training was wide and training offices ensured it was wide, I still have my training diaries detailing what I did , be it working on the audit of a plc or doing a vat return for Rab C Nesbit. Nowadays, with this niche pathway approach you seem to adopt, I am not convinced that many with the CA or ACA label attached are actually fit to service the broad needs of smaller clients, have the required Jack of All Trades Master of None experience required.

So, before you go into practice in the sector lets see real experience in bookkeeping, incomplete records, accounting records reconstruction, accounting standards and disclosures, tax (at minimum IT,CGT,CT and NI), finance and raising funds with secured lending, payroll, vat returns, vat schemes, RTI, company secretarial etc, effectively the day to day matters arising within the SME market, frankly without that experience you can have as many professional qualifications as you like but you are still not fit to serve the SME market.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Calculatorboy
26th May 2021 17:54

you forget to mention ethics, the most important of all , that's something most unregulated are oblivious to...

And pi .. they blindly fool themselves they are doing a good job and are infallible , and the ticking time bomb is always borne by their clients

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By SXGuy
25th May 2021 11:51

Yeah because you can't be dishonest whilst holding a PC.

This argument is so old now it gets boring.

Ultimately what you want is for qbes to have another added cost of appearing to be regulated.

Hopefully it's not a case of spitting your dummy out, after all there's nothing stopping you cancelling your own membership fees.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
25th May 2021 12:06

sanjay100 wrote:
No doubt there are some very good unqualified accountants but there are so many dodgy ones that are no under scrutiny.

What are you basing this on?

I am qualified myself, but I have worked with many good unqualified over the years. I have also worked with qualified that, whilst they somehow passed the exams, hadn't the first clue about what practice accounting involved.

I don't believe compulsory registration would raise standards. At best, it would mean clients have an external body to complain to. Even that is not he magic bullet you think it is.

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By Paul Crowley
25th May 2021 12:23

Agree entirely
I am ICAEW, my partner QBE
I would rate his skills over most qualifieds every day of the week.

Experience and constant updating of knowledge and skills beats passing an exam 20 years ago

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By sanjay100
25th May 2021 14:44

Of course there will be exceptions and unqualified accountants many on this forum who have far more superior knowledge than myself but the fact remains you are going to have more confidence rightly or wrongly with someone who has been the rigmarole of training and exams than someone who hasn't. The Public trusts accountants blindly but what recourse do they have when dealing someone without PI or backing of an accountancy body. There should be some distinction at least to know someone who is qualified or not. No one ever asks me if I am qualified. I doubt many of my clients know I am qualified. f the government does not regulate at least educate the public on Accountants Qualification so the public has the information to make their choose between qualified or unqualified.

Some qualified accountants are no better but there is more chance than someone who is qualified would take care over the work and not deceive the client and the government than someone unqualified simply due to the rigorous training they have been put through. Passing exams is not so straight forward and that's the only way to public to distinguish between Accountants and others who if unqualified many not be looking after their clients best interests.

Remember qualified accountants have access to so many source of information plus CPD too compared to an unqualified accountant

Is it fair being a qualified accountant I end up paying higher fees to deliver a service than someone who is unqualified ?

Accountants is regulated in many countries around the word partly their government know they are more likely to get higher amounts in tax revenues.
If lawyers were not regulated. I certainly would not go to one that unqualified. Why should this be different for Accountants ?

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Replying to sanjay100:
By SteveHa
25th May 2021 15:43

sanjay100 wrote:

.....but the fact remains you are going to have more confidence rightly or wrongly with someone who has been the rigmarole of training and exams than someone who hasn't.

Unqualified does not mean untrained. I spent 20 years within HMRC working across the spectrum of UK tax during my time, including everything from basic PAYE, through S9A enquiries, and ex-pat compliance, employer compliance etc. etc.

And I'm not the only QBE on these forums with a similar history. Please don't make unfounded assumptions. We have probably had more training than many qualifieds during our professional careers.

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By sanjay100
25th May 2021 15:57

You have more knowledge than myself but how can a someone from the public differentiate from someone that has been through the many training programmes and QBE. That is the point. Its not disparaging other QBE's but there has to be some delineation to prevent the unscrupulous ones from taking advantage.

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Replying to sanjay100:
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By DJKL
25th May 2021 16:21

If you must differentiate why do you believe your line re delineating via the various Institutes, whose qualifications are not particularly targeted at the SME sector, is the correct line to take?

Thought you were all trained as accountants, is there merely one measurement metric that can be employed, your exam certificate, a certificate that is pretty removed from the day to day work of SME practice?

Can you not evaluate wider means of measurement than just that offered by your piece of paper- accountants really ought to be able to think encompassing more factors than the fact that on a day x passed y exam. (Think of the courses you took, how many have little or no direct relevance to your work for the SME sector)

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Replying to sanjay100:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
25th May 2021 20:01

sanjay100 wrote:

Of course there will be exceptions and unqualified accountants many on this forum who have far more superior knowledge than myself but the fact remains you are going to have more confidence rightly or wrongly with someone who has been the rigmarole of training and exams than someone who hasn't.

Again, on what basis are you saying good unqualified accountants are the exception? As you say in your very next sentence, placing confidence in someone just because they passed exams could be the right or wrong thing to do.
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The Public trusts accountants blindly but what recourse do they have when dealing someone without PI or backing of an accountancy body.
Again you are treating PI and backing an accountancy body as magic wands that will fix all ills. They really aren't.

Plus unqualified accountants can get PI (and the sensible ones will) so that isn't actually a difference anyway.

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There should be some distinction at least to know someone who is qualified or not.
There is, the letters you use after your name. I don't know about you, but mine are part of my e-mail signature. If clients don't know if you are qualified, then that is because they don't care.
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If the government does not regulate at least educate the public on Accountants Qualification so the public has the information to make their choose between qualified or unqualified.

If the government "educates" the public that qualified=good and unqualified=bad, I can see them facing a lot of legal challenges. There is plenty of case law proving that many qualified accountants are indisputably bad.
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Some qualified accountants are no better but there is more chance than someone who is qualified would take care over the work and not deceive the client and the government than someone unqualified simply due to the rigorous training they have been put through. Passing exams is not so straight forward and that's the only way to public to distinguish between Accountants and others who if unqualified many not be looking after their clients best interests.

This is pure sophistry. You are acting as if passing exams automatically instils integrity and competence. It really doesn't. You are also acting as if not passing exams tends to make one incompetent and venal. Again, really not the case.

Your use of deceive is also verging on the insulting. If an accountant simply does not mention if they are qualified or not, and the client doesn't care enough to ask, what deceit is happening?

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Remember qualified accountants have access to so many source of information plus CPD too compared to an unqualified accountant

Many sources like, what?

As a member I can get access to ACCA organised courses. I can also access courses from private providers that will give me the same knowledge.

What is ACCA offering that is genuinely not available at all elsewhere?

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Is it fair being a qualified accountant I end up paying higher fees to deliver a service than someone who is unqualified ?

Here I think we finally get to the crux of the complaint. You worked hard for your qualification (as did I). You pay annual fees to retain that qualification (as do I). You resent others who are equally or more competent being able to call themselves accountants without having to do that. (Here we differ).
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Accountants is regulated in many countries around the word partly their government know they are more likely to get higher amounts in tax revenues.

Source of this claim please, especially the part about knowing they will get higher tax revenues.
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Replying to sanjay100:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
25th May 2021 20:09

sanjay100 wrote:

Is it fair being a qualified accountant I end up paying higher fees to deliver a service than someone who is unqualified ?


I did write a more detailed response, but AccountingWeb glitched and lost it.

This seems to be the crux of your issue. You passed your exams (so did I). You pay your annual fees (so do I). You resent competent unqualified being able to practice without doing both of these things (here we differ).

The rest of your post essentially boils down to exams somehow making people competent and full of integrity and not doing exams making people incompetent and tricky. (acknowledging a few exceptions exist).

This really isn't the case, and any government that tries to "educate" the public that it is will find itself mired in legal challenges. (Plenty of case law of qualified people showing no integrity or confidence to feed those).

But I am open to being persuaded. Rather than making sweeping generalised statements of what you think is the case, present some evidence that you are right. You could start with what accounts and tax information is only available to members of accounting bodies and no-one else, meaning the unqualified will not be able to access that same information elsewhere.

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By sanjay100
26th May 2021 14:50

All will say on the matter. I don't have the time to get into a slanging match with you.

You are unable to grap the simple principle that Mr Blogs without an ounce of experience or knowledge can simply setup himself with laptop and call himself an Accountant and muddle his way in filing accounts and tax returns. Do you think the accounts will be accurate if he is just spends time building his knowledge through the internet ? Will he be bothered to keep updated with the fast paced accountancy and tax world - doubt it. Looking back I probably shouldn't have bothered qualifying as an accountant as I could have gone the same path and don't think it will have impacted my business significantly

Mr Blogs advertises as an accountant. The Public think okay great he is an accountant I am protected if something goes wrong. Well no, he files incorrect accounts and tax return with no tax (like the example I gave earlier where accountant was making up the accounts probably to gain more clients). The government loses out and if HMRC ever find (which I doubt as again in my example this rogue accountant is still trading) then the repercussions would be severe for this client. While a qualified accountant does not guarantee accuracy, integrity etc it will at least instill some confidence with the client that this accountant has "some" basic knowledge and their accountancy body and PI cover provides some protection.

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By thevaliant
25th May 2021 12:38

I say this as an FCA:

This is just the usual 'barriers to entry' malarky that businesses love to advance because they can weed out the competition.
There is no true incentive to raise standards. Only to get rid of good unqualified accountants as competitors.

The number of ACA and FCA's I know who have done things they shouldn't is broadly the same as the number of ACAs and FCAs I know.

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By David Ex
25th May 2021 12:45

It might be more to the point if HMRC put more resources (some resources?) into random checks/audits of tax returns. That might give them some facts on which to base action against the incompetent/fraudulent rather than imposing another layer of bureaucracy on everyone.

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By johnhemming
25th May 2021 12:49

I presume that people know that the government are looking at making PI insurance compulsory for tax advisors (as distinct from tax agents).

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Replying to johnhemming:
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By David Ex
25th May 2021 12:55

johnhemming wrote:

I presume that people know that the government are looking at making PI insurance compulsory for tax advisors (as distinct from tax agents).

Is there more to it than that? Would any competent advisor of any description not have indemnity insurance?

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Replying to johnhemming:
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By Paul Crowley
25th May 2021 13:05

I would not know how the distinction could be readily ascertained

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By SteveHa
25th May 2021 13:27

QBE here (and grateful that many regular commentators are not vilifying QBEs in this thread). Now, I'm employed QBE, and the practice I work in is ICAEW regulated. However, the latest proposals are going further than that, trying to require QBE even where regulated by proxy to be directly regulated.

The only beneficiaries of this would be the PBs themselves in the increased fees that they would receive, with no benefit whatsoever to either the profession or the public.

Call me cynical, but I'm a professional with professional standards who is getting fed up to the back teeth of being indirectly accused of being an incompetent chancer when I have encountered qualified practitioners that I can run rings around in terms of technical ability and ethical standards.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
25th May 2021 13:29

Google "accountant stole" with Google Images for a rogue's gallery of accountants of all flavours. You'll see instantly two matters that jump out:

firstly, many of those miscreants are employees of the firms they are pick-pocketing;

secondly, there are all flavours of accountants, with no obvious correlation between qualifications and the amounts stolen; and

finally, the common thread seems to me to be they've each taken advantage of being in a solitary position of trust.

And they're just the ones who've been caught!

A straw poll of Joe Public is bound to reveal that some are happy to go to dodgy accountants - there was a thread here only this morning concerning a builder who'll face financial disaster unless he can find a back-street accountant to cover his tracks for him. The only realistic solutions are better internal controls, and bring back some form of auditing.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
25th May 2021 13:44

I particularly liked..

"Accountant Bullied At Work Stole £170,000 And Spent It On Women And Cocaine (he wasted the rest!) in one weekend".

https://www.unilad.co.uk/news/accountant-bullied-at-work-stole-170000-an...

You have to admire his stamina! And to escape his employer's clutches (ha!) he's repaying it at £1 week, would you believe.

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By Matrix
25th May 2021 13:46

I have seen huge mistakes from all kinds of practitioners. Fraud? I am pretty naive so wouldn’t know.

If this action would protect the consumer then great. I think it must be very confusing that anyone can call themselves an accountant.

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DougScott
By Dougscott
25th May 2021 13:51

The writing is probably on the wall. I am QBE and have been an accountant for 40 years. I part-qualified (ICAEW) with Thornton Baker, London. I am a Fellow of the Association of Charity Independent Examiners (which technically is a professional qualification) however the ACIE is not a supervisor for MLR and it's PII only covers Independent Examinations. I would like to join a professional body that is an MLR supervisor and offers decent PII which will accept evidence of my experience rather than having to do exams but which is also Value for Money. Is there such an animal!?

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By Calculatorboy
25th May 2021 13:55

I often see the phrase " part" qualified

You either are , or not

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By DJKL
25th May 2021 14:37

Qualified for what is the question? If say CA was the end of the matter why would people take CTA?

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Replying to Calculatorboy:
DougScott
By Dougscott
25th May 2021 14:55

Calculatorboy wrote:

I often see the phrase " part" qualified

You either are , or not


A typically useful comment. Most people know that it means you passed some of the exams and it is quicker to say than I passed x,y,z papers of the ICAEW course (which I think was actually referred to as PE1 when I did them).
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By GHarr497688
25th May 2021 14:34

I have worked in Accountancy for 42 years. Trained by a Chartered Accountant then left and was employed by a Non-Chartered Accountant.
In my time I have been asked to check poor work produced by Chartered Accountants , have witnessed Chartered Accountants doing whatever they like with tax and telling me they are unquestionable. Surely in many ways HMRC monitor Accountants and if professional indemnity insurance is in place what'e the issue. A poor Accountant won't last long as either the HMRC or Client will catch them out. Corrupt Accountants will be dealt with under AML rules. I would favour a registered accountant approach backed up by an HMRC register linked to AML list and a stipulation that professional indemnity insurance should be in place. After all a Care Home is monitored by the CCC and does not need any formal care qualifications. A care industry is far more important than a financial institution so why should a care setting not have a formal nursing qualification.

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Replying to GHarr497688:
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By sanjay100
25th May 2021 14:59

HMRC have not caught up with this dodgy accountant I referred to. He has 500K in his bank account and have been trading for 10 years. HMRC have too much to do and less manpower. With covid mess its even more less time

There are going to be exceptions with qualified accountants. I personally have not come across any accountants where I had suspicions during the professional clearance process. There has been errors for example not reconciling the bank account but no intention to fraud

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Replying to sanjay100:
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By Paul Crowley
25th May 2021 15:02

You know about it
Have you SAR'd

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By sanjay100
25th May 2021 15:41

Yes I did as his client wanted to change accountants (he needed a mortgage0 and he was a carpenter who was earning around 70K a year and had little in terms of costs but yet his accounts showed him making a loss. He actually showed me his accounts no tax paid for two years. Of course I didn't take him on.

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Replying to sanjay100:
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By GHarr497688
25th May 2021 15:23

I think with myself being in the bust for 42 years and see what a mess so called qualified accountants have gotten clients into I am well "qualified" pardon the pun to judge. Fact is good or bad , qualified or not HMRC will find the Accountants who are not acting properly. A government body with a register of Accountants with PI insurance would suffice rather than a closed shop of Accountant paying a Fee to a professional body to do very little. Look at posts on AWEB and you will see how many chartered accountants call the ICAEW. The fact that you did an Exam in a day in no way gives the years and years of experience I have dealing with HMRC or Clients let alone checking the work of chartered accountants over and over again .

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Replying to GHarr497688:
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By sanjay100
25th May 2021 15:44

Like I said there are exceptions which you are but obviously if you are qualified in anything being accountant, lawyer etc that provides more comfort than someone unqualified or joining some other accountancy bodies where you just need to pay a membership fee.

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Replying to sanjay100:
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By GHarr497688
25th May 2021 16:12

I part accept what you say however the reality is that I own an Accountancy firm with 100 satisfied clients and I am on the panel with HMRC advisors so what you suggest means I have to give up my business tell HMRC I can't assist as I am not qualified and my 42 years of experience is wasted not to mention I will lose my income and so would have to find a job. I have tried to join with a Chartered Accountant before and my clients do not want this so some form of alternative is needed.

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Replying to sanjay100:
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By GHarr497688
25th May 2021 16:12

I part accept what you say however the reality is that I own an Accountancy firm with 100 satisfied clients and I am on the panel with HMRC advisors so what you suggest means I have to give up my business tell HMRC I can't assist as I am not qualified and my 42 years of experience is wasted not to mention I will lose my income and so would have to find a job. I have tried to join with a Chartered Accountant before and my clients do not want this so some form of alternative is needed.

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