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Do you have to be qualified to produce accounts?

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I was under the impression that in order to produce and file accounts for a client you had to have a valid practicing certficate from ICAEW, ACCA, AAT, etc?  I was also under the impression that 'accountant' was a protected term in law and you could not call yourself one without the relevant qualification.

But today I have spoken to someone I am taking over from to discuss professional clearance, and it became apparent pretty quickly that they did not know what they were talking about. They do not have a website but I managed to find them on LinkedIn, where they say they are 'An accountant qualified by experience' - I can only assume they are refering to the 5 years they worked as a Finance Clerk over ten years ago before starting their practice.

Am I right or wrong?  Are they practising when they shouldn't be?  They have been producing accounts, CT600s, VAT returns and personal tax returns.  ACCA certainly made me jump through enough hoops to get my practcising certficate, my firm registered and a relevant qualified Continuation of Practice so I am shocked to find others who aren't bothering.  

If they should not be practicing what action should I be taking? If they are not qualifued should I be informing their former client and how much reliance can I place on their work being correct?

Never encountered this before so any advice is greatly appreciated.

 

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14th Aug 2018 16:31

Any fool can produce and file accounts.

A review of the Companies House website shows that many do.

I can forgive the odd error - no one's perfect. But some accounts are utter, utter nonsense.

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By AJF499
to lionofludesch
14th Aug 2018 16:38

I understand that anyone can produce and file their own accounts, my question relates to someone specifically saying that they are an accountant and whether or not they allowed to do so.

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to AJF499
14th Aug 2018 16:40

Yes, anyone can say they are an accountant. It's not a protected term, unlike say "solicitor".

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to AJF499
14th Aug 2018 16:44

AJF499 wrote:

I understand that anyone can produce and file their own accounts, my question relates to someone specifically saying that they are an accountant and whether or not they allowed to do so.

My reply wasn't restricted to folk filing their own accounts. Just to clarify, like.

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14th Aug 2018 16:42

You have never encountered a QBE accountant before? That's amazing - it's like never having seen a grey squirrel and thinking they are all red - you would have to get all your knowledge of the countryside from Enid Blyton.

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By DJKL
to Tim Vane
14th Aug 2018 17:11

Yes, I had better introduce myself to the OP, I have ,off and on, been producing accounts for my own clients since 1994 and for other firm's clients since 1985.

I should have added I have no professional qualifications though I do have a degree (not in accountancy) but useful for Shakespeare quotes, a PG Cert in accountancy from university (the sort of things they used to make non relevant graduates take) and was at least apprenticed via ICAS a long, long time ago.

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14th Aug 2018 16:51

More non-qualifieds in practice than qualifieds.

Some are very good, some are rubbish, just like those with their cert on the wall.

A lot of stuff produced by qualified firms is actually done by non-quals with minimal or non-existent review especially in "results focussed" firms. Ie the ones just out ot make a buck.

Just dealing with one like that, client fees bought out by very aggressive firm who seem to spend more time getting awards *coughs at Aweb* than on actual client care. Took me over a month to drag the data out of them, its only a sole trader too! The irony being their email footer and website boasting about all their awards for client service......client left in the fist place as advice much poorer than their old accountant who retired.

NB I am a FCA but that was a very long time ago and has almost nothing to do with what I do now. There was a time I thought it mattered, but 12+ years later I don't think it does. Plenty of non-quals on here who know a lot more than I do, and probably do a more technically correct job. I am quite frankly a bit slap dash so long as the tax is right and I wont land the client in any hot water due to some short cuts along the way.

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to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
14th Aug 2018 17:37

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

I am quite frankly a bit slap dash so long as the tax is right and I wont land the client in any hot water due to some short cuts along the way.

Snap.

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14th Aug 2018 17:12

Never mind the grey squirrel analogy - it's a bit like thinking that the sun sets in the south. Unless the post is a wind up.

Don't confuse "qualified" with being a member of an RPB (recognised professional body). One can be qualified by experience as well as by examination.

For me it's a case of being qualified by both but choosing not to pay money into the black hole that is the ICAEW and with the risk of a massive fine for an innocent error.

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to thomas34
14th Aug 2018 18:07

From my research survey for my thesis, the majority of the public and owner managed businesses believe that every accountant in practice has suitable qualifications, which clearly isnt the case.
From my discussions it seems acceptable if an accountant has had the training and qualifications but later resigned their membership because of issues with their institure ( as opposed to those who have been disciplined and left).
My question to those of you who are QBE or non qualified and not members of a supervisory body, is how do you KNOW you are any good as an accountant, rather than your own opinion?
If an accountant is not a member of a supervisory body then there is very little a client can do if the accountant makes a serious mistake so it is surely better to have an accountant who is ICAEW , ICAS as they have undergone a minimum of three years training and qualifications. Same for ATT and CTA as they will have both experience and qualifications. ACCA , AAT and CIMA is acceptable if the accountant has good practice experience, as industry experience is entirely different.
For those without qualifications, if you are good enough, why not sit the exams?
Of course, there are good and bad accountants with or without training, experience and qualifications but at least the public has some reassurance that those being monitored by a supervisory body will undergo CPD, have PII etc.
For any accountant on AWeb to say they dont want to belong to a supervisory body, suggests they dont want anyone to find out they are incompetent and if they are not honest about their failings and try and hoodwink their clients about qualifications, then they shouldnt be in practice. Surely only those that meet all the training, experience and qualifications deserve to be called Accountants, the rest are imposters or at best second rate?

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By DJKL
to emmablyth
14th Aug 2018 22:18

Some strong words there, emmablyth, imposters, second rate etc .

Care to detail your professional career, highlights, your achievements re your unsupervised work ? And which university for your thesis, mine are Edinburgh as an undergraduate and Aberdeen for my PG, yours any good?

How do you know you are good enough you ask- work for a large number of years, supervise the firm's CA trainees, review the work of other accountants even if they have the magic CA after their name that they passed 20 years before but have done little reading to support since.

Or maybe it is finding that you do not actually need to apply for a job/position because the employer comes to you (both my turns in industry were clients who approached me), that can be a decent indication that possibly you picked up a bit over the years and were maybe not an expert but certainly pretty competent.

Why not sit exams- because I am now 58, the interval of work, kids, buying houses, career sadly intervened so that post 1987 I never seriously went back to full time professional study, then again reading minimum 3-4 hours a week every week for over thirty years does augment the 1980s formal training. (Have you still got to pass all subjects or pass none re the professional papers, I have actually passed a fair few ICAS papers, just not all at the same time)

I spent 2.25 years with a national firm from 1985-87 as an ICAS trainee, from 87-90 in a three/two partner local firm, 90-94 in industry, 94-95 working for myself, 95-99 back in the same two/three partner local firm (which given they took me back must say something for my abilities) and then in 99 I joined my current employer in industry to head up their finance function ( they had been a client) and a few years later also started picking up my own private clients which still occupy my spare time, and yes I have PII and yes I do CPD.

You are either looking for an argument on here or you are arrogant enough to actually believe that all those with fluttering bits of paper are somehow better accountants than those without, from the posts on here a fair few are but a fair few qualifieds on here are certainly not..

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to DJKL
15th Aug 2018 06:49

Yeah, but your still not qualified so can’t be that good.

The best accountant I ever worked with was a QBE senior in my training firm who’d been there 20 years (when I left in 2012).

Qualifications seem wanted, but actually don’t mean anything WRT ability.

NB I’m FCCA

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to DJKL
15th Aug 2018 10:37

I will give my background when everyone else on Accounting Web gives their real names and details which clearly wont happen but for the record i attend the top university in Scotland.
I think if i had failed the ICAS exams after three attempts and didnt know at least 50% of a subject, then i would have looked for an alternative career as I would have realised my knowledge wasnt good enough.
I dont doubt many non qualifieds are competent enough but what about the ones who arent?
How does the public know?
There are plenty of people doing the same job for years but not very good at it. My suggestion would be that all the main accounting bodies should insist that the accountancy profession is regulated. One database showing all accountants in practice who are the principles in their firm, with the name of their institute. Anyone not qualified would have 3 years to pass exams.

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 10:46

The one tip I will give you, free of charge emmablyth is -
if you persist with your ill-founded, disrespectful and profoundly naive view, of highly experienced and intelligent members who take part in this forum, then you will have a very; sad and lonely existence.
Did you swallow all the text books, or just a few?
I'd suggest you get out more and smell some coffee.
From what you say, you've a complete lack of experience of the real world but a head full of cotton wool.
No doubt, once you've reported us all, to the Aweb moderators, the thread will be closed.

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 11:01

emmablyth wrote:
i attend the top university in Scotland.

I'm going to go out on a limb here. You're an SNP supporter aren't you?
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By DJKL
to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 11:05

Aha, a fellow Alumni. Give my regards to Professor Pauline Weetman when you next see her, she was the person who originally taught me a long time ago when she was a senior lecturer at Aberdeen; excellent teacher.

Re 50% of subject you have the ICAS marking scheme very wrong , certainly re how it operated in the mid 1980s.

You sat all the papers in a sitting, 3 at the prelim, 4 at part one, 8 at part two then the TPC. You needed to pass each level all in one sitting, if you did the cert said pass, no grades ever given if you passed, if you did not the cert gave you the grade- A-C and fail . A C was certainly not good enough to pass, pass grades were rumoured to work on quotas, but certainly I have somewhere in the attic a fail cert with a B re the one failed (all the others were passed), so the 50% jibe is somewhat unfounded, I suspect I was in the range 65%-85% across these papers .

I also have a suggestion re your career, do a Humanities degree, it will help you eradicate a touch of your dogmatism and certainties, as and when you even graduate.

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 00:32

emmablyth wrote:

My question to those of you who are QBE or non qualified and not members of a supervisory body, is how do you KNOW you are any good as an accountant, rather than your own opinion?

I don't think you understand what is meant by "supervisory body". The ICAEW, etc., don't stand over and check the work of every ACA/FCA on a daily basis. Any professional person worthy of the description takes responsibility for the quality of their own work.

Admittedly there are far too many examples on this site of people who clearly are not professional, in that sense - whether they hold qualifications of not. I've known plenty of highly competent people who have no professional qualifications.

emmablyth wrote:

For any accountant on AWeb to say they dont want to belong to a supervisory body, suggests they dont want anyone to find out they are incompetent and if they are not honest about their failings and try and hoodwink their clients about qualifications, then they shouldnt be in practice. Surely only those that meet all the training, experience and qualifications deserve to be called Accountants, the rest are imposters or at best second rate?

And frankly that is a ridiculous, insulting, completely illogical and unsubstantiated assertion. If that's the quality of your analytical skills, perhaps it's you who needs to be taking a look at themself.

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 08:20

I specialise in tax (we have other guys here doing accounts), and I'm QBE. Are you seriously suggesting that passing a couple of exams makes someone better than my 18 years in HMRC and a further 15 years in practice?

And why on earth would I want to pay exorbitant sums to prove to someone who doesn't really care one way or the other that I can do my job?

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 10:21

"For any accountant on AWeb to say they dont want to belong to a supervisory body, suggests they dont want anyone to find out they are incompetent and if they are not honest about their failings and try and hoodwink their clients about qualifications, then they shouldnt be in practice. Surely only those that meet all the training, experience and qualifications deserve to be called Accountants, the rest are imposters or at best second rate?"

That is just one of so many parts of what you said that is so wrong.

I don't want to belong to a supervisory body. I got out of the mockery of "supervision" about 6 years ago, how long till I become "unacceptable" to you (as opposed to my clients) and incompetent?

Why should accountants, performing unregulated activities, be any different to any other business?

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to Paul Scholes
15th Aug 2018 10:45

The point is that it should be regulated. Your probably a fine accountant but many are not. If IFA need regulated why not accountants?
I dont understand why a good accountant would refuse to pay £500- £2k for membership and a PC and not want to be supervised by a regulated body?

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By DJKL
to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 11:11

Surely Edinburgh did not let you in yet you write "your"; shame on you, shame on them.

It is important for accountants to communicate and be accurate, that was pretty sloppy.

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 15:13

emmablyth wrote:

I dont understand

I think that's apparent from most of your comments.

Most of the qualified and/or experienced accountants on here have pointed out the errors in your sweeping and insulting generalisations.

Come back in 10 years when you have some real world experience to draw on.

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to Accountant A
15th Aug 2018 15:59

what makes you think i dont have any real world experience?
There has been over 1000 views and most people are silent so how do you know what people think and how do you know who is qualified or not?
If you had actually read ALL the posts, rather than just select the parts you like then i might care about your opinion. Clearly there is a lot you dont understand too.

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15th Aug 2018 20:39

As Red Leader says 'accountant' is not a protected profession. However, there is one area of work where only accountants qualified by exam are recognised and that is when mortgage lenders ask for an accountants certificate. Some such as Santander accept certain qualifications only.

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to Jennifer Adams
14th Aug 2018 18:19

When I remortgaged a few years ago, Santander made me certify my own tax return, even though I prepared it.

Can’t remember the bank, but about 10 years ago, I (ACCA) had to certify my father-in-law’s (ACA) tax return.

Logic. Madness.

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to atleastisoundknowledgable...
14th Aug 2018 18:30

atleastisoundknowledgable... wrote:

When I remortgaged a few years ago, Santander made me certify my own tax return, even though I prepared it.

Well, that's the Spanish for you.

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to Jennifer Adams
14th Aug 2018 18:56

There are two much more important protected areas which you don’t mention, namely audit and insolvency.

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to johngroganjga
14th Aug 2018 19:28

also Financial Services.
If giving financial investment, pension advice etc requires regulation, why not financial accounting and tax advice?
Of course, the usual unqualifieds and unregulated Awebbers will bleat about this but what is more important, protecting the public or protecting a few incompetent accountants or those who are too lazy to sit exams or too stingy to pay membership fees?

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 09:46

As mentioned earlier, emmablyth, strong words and assertions here. Perhaps it's time for you to put something tangible on the Aweb table, so that those who you've suggested "will bleat" know, precisely, your own background and professional knowledge?
Whilst I have the greatest respect for the theorists and academics, over the last 45 years I've been more concerned about; putting a roof over the heads of my family and, putting food on the table.
I've never once sought help from the state and, whenever the going has got tough, I've become tougher.
I like to believe that, I've always gone the extra mile, for all of my client's and, I've provided them with the best possible service, at a rate which has been respectful and fair.
Furthermore, I've worked for many of my clients, across my 45 years in the profession and, due to that long service, I'm now working for the "second generation".
I regard my relationships as an utter privilege and, still get quite "excited" at the prospect of coming to the office each day. I still rise at 5.20am, even at the age of 62
I don't take kindly to glib comments, which have been made throughout your commentary, thus-far, when the allegations seem to me; unfair and unfounded.
I personally think that an apology wouldn't be out of order.
I spend less and less time on this forum these days, for a variety of reasons but, I'll make an exception for you.

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 09:46

emmablyth wrote:

also Financial Services.
If giving financial investment, pension advice etc requires regulation, why not financial accounting and tax advice?
Of course, the usual unqualifieds and unregulated Awebbers will bleat about this but what is more important, protecting the public or protecting a few incompetent accountants or those who are too lazy to sit exams or too stingy to pay membership fees?

Nobody bleats as loud as you, Emma.

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 09:53

So unqualified's are incompetent, lazy or stingy?

Nothing to do with professional bodies doing nothing to merit the fees they charge? I'm sure no members of professional bodies have ever been incompetent or got up to anything dodgy... no laughing at the back.

Have you ever worked in the real world, or are you just some self important academic who thinks they have accomplished something by passing some exams?

You clearly have little idea what you are talking about. Wait...sorry, silly me, you've written a thesis... I take that back.

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to Lone_Wolf
15th Aug 2018 11:00

If you are or were a member of a professional body, why not complain to them about the merit of the fees?

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 12:35

I am qualified, but frankly I'm considering asking my employer for the £300 odd quid in my pocket rather than paid to the ATT/CTA.

Why not complain? Because it won't make a bit of difference. The only reason I bothered with the qualification is the perceived view that you needed one to show you were capable. It proves nothing. I was mentored by an unqualified and what I learned was invaluable. I've worked alongside "qualified" people where my dog could have given better advise.

Unfortunately we live in a society where many measure a persons worth by how many letters they have after their name, how obedient they have been to follow the structured path laid before them.

Go to school and university and do as your told...make sure you pass all your exams so we know that you have learnt what we want you to learn. There's a good little sheep.

Damn, now we have a fully grown adult on our hands. How do we control them? Here's an idea, lets make their job regulated, make them have to follow rules and behaviors that we deem acceptable, and punish them if they don't. I've got an even better idea, lets make them pay for us to control them. Great idea.

Wait, you've not learned what we deem to be important. Hmm.. we can't just get rid of you. You can pick up our bins or clean up after us, and carry out the menial tasks instead. Until we make some robots to do that of course.

Frankly I'm of the opinion that the world needs to cut the amount of regulation and bring about a lot more freedom when it comes to learning. Give people the freedom to follow a path, and prove they are good at a role through time. With time, the good, reliable, advisers will be identifiable by their reputation.

Yes, there will still be unscrupulous individuals who target the gullible and unaware, but regulation hasn't exactly stopped this.

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to Lone_Wolf
15th Aug 2018 12:22

“I’ve was mentored”

A bit sloppy. Dont you agree DJKL or do you only criticise the spelling or grammar of people who disagree with you ?

As usual on Aweb, the insults become personal and if ive offended anyone then i apologise but I was only trying to add to the OPs question regarding why anyone can submit accounts.
It seems reasonable debate isnt possible any more

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By DJKL
to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 17:15

Your initial post was far from reasonable, spraying around pejorative terms at the outset is really not a good way to persuade anyone regarding your line of argument.

If you do not listen to Radio 4 you might want to catch up on the daily 1:45 show, this week is a discussion about arguments/ discussions/negotiations, mostly fairly intuitive but there are still some useful gems worth hearing.

With the advance of AI I strongly suspect the AI accountants of your future will likely be ones that forget nothing and have all the technical skills and knowledge, accordingly to differentiate yourself from them, and to have a valuable place in that world, it will more than ever be your soft skills that will be crucial to your development.

Others have touched on this above- being an accountant is far more than technical know how, even back in the dark ages of my apprenticeship we did courses covering meetings with audit clients and extracting information from them, public speaking and presentation, it is not all learning tax law and accounting standards.

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 22:38

emmablyth wrote:

“I’ve was mentored”

A bit sloppy. Dont you agree DJKL or do you only criticise the spelling or grammar of people who disagree with you ?

I think that you mean “Don’t you agree ...”
Sloppy.

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to atleastisoundknowledgable...
15th Aug 2018 22:55

atleastisoundknowledgable... wrote:

emmablyth wrote:

“I’ve was mentored”

A bit sloppy. Dont you agree DJKL or do you only criticise the spelling or grammar of people who disagree with you ?

I think that you mean “Don’t you agree ...”
Sloppy.

Missing punctuation too.

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to Lone_Wolf
15th Aug 2018 16:54

how do we stop the unscrupolous accountants, if not by regulation?

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 17:38

So regulation has prevented unscrupulous audits/financial services issues/speeding/murder etc etc etc ad infinitum?

How has membership of a professional body prevented 100% of unscrupulous accountants?

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 10:42

Have you never read the disciplinary roundups, detailing those qualifieds who have been sanctioned or expelled for their incompetence? And that's just the ones that get caught.

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to SteLacca
15th Aug 2018 10:54

Yes I do and thats the point isnt it?
Theyve been found to be at fault and rightly disciplined. What about the rest who dont get supervised?
Some will be good accountants but many are not. For those of you on here critising me because you dont like my opinion, you dont seem to have read my original message. I said there are good and bad qualified and unqualified.
Nobody has given a valid reason why the accounting profession shouldnt be more regulated.

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By DJKL
to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 11:27

You also said,

"For any accountant on AWeb to say they dont want to belong to a supervisory body, suggests they dont want anyone to find out they are incompetent and if they are not honest about their failings and try and hoodwink their clients about qualifications, then they shouldnt be in practice. Surely only those that meet all the training, experience and qualifications deserve to be called Accountants, the rest are imposters or at best second rate?"

Sorry, you lost any balance re your post with your final paragraph.

One of the soft skills that an accountant often needs to develop is persuading others, a board of directors, HMRC, a lender, that tends to be achieved by reasoned argument, understanding the point of view of the other, empathy; you can be the best technical accountant in the world but without the soft, people skills, you will not prosper.

As an example both my parent's were lawyers, my father often pointed out that my mother knew more law than he did, had a far better legal mind than he did, but she could not flourish in the practice of law, she had the knowledge but not some of the other skills needed- he ended up the senior partner of an Edinburgh firm of solicitors, she ended up as a qualified solicitor for another firm.

I would hone up on my soft skills if you have aspirations to enter the profession when you graduate.

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to emmablyth
15th Aug 2018 16:03

Look - tone it down. You're doing "classic internet troll" and it's getting old. Most of the people on this thread, whether QBE or exam qualified (I'm exam qualified and I have considerable experience, before you start more nastiness) have a wealth of experience and knowledge that they are prepared to share, to help others out. That is the purpose of this forum - to help each other. It is not a venue for your frankly elitist and insulting statements. Grow up a bit, get some actual experience, then come and tell us whether your views are still the same...

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15th Aug 2018 09:33

What's important is the training you continue to do and not the training you did twenty, thirty or even forty years ago.

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By DJKL
to lionofludesch
15th Aug 2018 10:00

I've boiled the accountant's greatest skill down to knowing when you do not know and then either hitting the books or calling in the "Pros from Dover"; well that and knowing about the credits and their proximity to the window.

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to DJKL
15th Aug 2018 15:35

That's how I learned - way back in the early seventies. Debits by the door, credits by the window.

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to DJKL
15th Aug 2018 15:35

That's how I learned - way back in the early seventies. Debits by the door, credits by the window.

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15th Aug 2018 10:36

I'd guess that nobody has a gripe with anyone wanting to undertake regulated activities (audit, FS, insolvency) being regulated and supervised. I should know, when I "qualified" I was able to, and did, all three knowing little if anything about all three!

Even so, with regard to audit, given my experience of supervision (or lack of it) and the example of failures by the big "expert" firms, how confident can the public and business be?

Given that perhaps a third of businesses don't use an accountant to do their accounts or tax returns, most of the above whining is hot e-air.

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15th Aug 2018 10:57

Got to be a wind up!

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15th Aug 2018 11:16

This all reminds me of those days, long ago, when we had a "Welsh" correspondent.
He was fairly self-opinionated, with very little actual knowledge either, as it's turned out.
I hear he's like a caged animal these days!

I can honestly feel the "thread closed" coming now. And, I will probably agree.

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