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Good morning
So one of our lovely book-keepers has just been told by the ICB (institute of certified book-keepers) that she has to take a Sage exam and it will cost about £400-£500 (which includes the software) if she wants to keep her qualification.
Now, I reckon we should shift her to IAB (International Association of Book-keepers).
What's everyone's view? Is IAB or ICB "better"? We'll look at AAT etc later but for now which do you reckon?
Thanks loads


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13th Apr 2012 12:56

ICB 'Sage' exam only £41.50

The ICB Level II Certificate in Computerised Bookkeeping qualification costs £36.00.

The Level III Diploma in Computerised Bookkeeping costs £41.50.


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13th Apr 2012 22:21

years in planning
This isn't something new. ICB have been telling members about this requirement for years. Its not a sage exam either, its computerised bookkeeping and packages other than sage can be used. ICB are just trying to develop the profession.

Personally as an ICB member I prefer it to IAB which I looked at previously.

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14th Apr 2012 18:23


We looked at both and decided AAT was the best option as we perceive this offers more options for self-employment, working in practice as well as well in commerce.

Bob Harper

Crunchers Franchise

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14th Apr 2012 19:21



As a very proud Fellow of the ICB , I guess my view could be perceived as bias.  I have now been in practice for over 10 years .  

It is a difficult one as I do not want to upset anyone who has achieved other  qualifications with the professional bodies mentioned. By saying one is better than the other. 

But I do have to differ with you Bob as ICB Fellow .  I run my own practice and I  have also worked  in practice and business.  

As for Commerce this could mean anything it is one of those generic words, so with out knowing what our referring to  I am unable to comment.   If you mean business, then I do not know any ICB member that would  struggle once qualified including myself as I have been  Finance manger in a couple of business prior to starting out on my own. 

That is what Bookkeeping is about , Business having accurate records and producing management accounts which any ICB  member has no problem producing. 

Also I would like to make the comment if you are running your own practice .  ICB are a fantastic and extremely supportive Professional Body who continually work hard to help you to succeed in practice.   As a member I really do feel they involve their members and you feel you are getting real value for money for your membership.  They are so nice on the phone if you need them for any reason. 


Kind regards Sarah Douglas Douglas Accountancy and Bookkeeping Services Glasgow



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15th Apr 2012 08:43


@Sarah - first let me say that YOU are more important than any qualification and (in my opinion) all qualifications are a foundation to be built on.

I just think business owners perceive more value in the accountant than bookkeeper and accountants see more value in the AAT than a bookkeeping qualification. By commerce I mean working in a big company and the chances are the FD will be a qualified accountant.

That doesn't mean the ICB isn't good.

Bob Harper

The Crunchers Franchise

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15th Apr 2012 11:14


Hi Bob

I do agree with you about qualifications and personnel development.  As many here know I also believe strongly in qualifications as part of the process. 

The ICB qualifications have changed over the years.  I am not sure if you are aware but the ICB have a high amount of AAT as students.  ICB has five levels , so it more then the basic bookkeeping at Level 1 and 2.

 Yes there are ICB Fellows who are Financial Directors.  In business I have not come across a qualified AAT member that is able to produce or knows anymore than a ICB fully qualified member. Again as you say most important considerations for a business to decide, is the individual and what their skills can offer the company.  The AAT does not  qualify you as a Chartered or a Certified Accountant.

I do feel though that some accountants almost see bookkeeping as a dirty word and beneath them.  (not all by any means). 

One of the most important things a business needs,  is a good bookkeeper who can produce management accounts , Cashflows and Budgets for the company.  

It is not about who is better , but the accuracy of a  profit&Loss, Balance Sheet , Cashflow reports, Budget reports are only as good as the bookkeeping allows them to be.  I am talking about a realistic cash-flow that is useful ( A debate for another day as cash flows are also a  very interesting Subject)

A good bookkeeper will know that business inside out, and is in a great position to produce cash flows and management accounts ,as they tend to know the exact movement of a Companies Debtors, Creditors and bank movements .  

It is very easy to say for example , so many customers will pay in so many days. The reality is  that is not always the case and a good bookkeeper would know when to include that money for cash-flow.  Also in some cases in order to produce an extremely accurate Profit and loss you have to be involved in the bookkeeping as you get to know far more then an accountant does as to what is actually going on in a business day to day. 

For the record I am not just a bookkeeper as I have other qualifications, so I am trying to give a balance view, that I think there is a great need in business for good bookkeepers and good accountants .

 I also feel there are plenty of accountants who agree , as the feedback to the ICB is that their members have a very good working relationship with the Fellow Accountancy Practices in their area, and that they both provide work for each other and that the right skill is provided to the client. 

Kind regards Sarah Douglas Douglas Accountancy and Bookkeeping Services Glasgow



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to seitler
12th Jul 2012 07:33

ICB - commandos

I think ICB is much more practical, if you self study or take a course, you are in at the deep end, and have to get your hands dirty with accountancy packages, payroll packages, tough centre & computer based double entry bookkeeping / accounts exams, and completing self assessments with a 100% pass rate.  I think ICB is like a commando course, but if you can stick it out, you get the benefits (primarily knowledge & experience, plus support of the institute and its members) a lot quicker than AAT and others.

Ive met many "Accountants" in industry and some in my opinion do not understand double entry bookkeeping very well, they concentrate on financial standards, presentation of financial statements, notes to the statements, as well as Audit & Controls.  Well someone has to prepare the accounts to which all this work is performed on, so steps in the "Bookkeeper"! 

When did the two different titles diverge anyway, The role the bookkeeper performs must have emerged from the primordial soup first.

I would prefer an ICB battle hardened recruit, rather than an AAT, and depending on the person better than an "accountant" for a generalist role in Industry.

Sorry for my late addition :)



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