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Prev accountant not playing ball

Prev accountant not playing ball

I have recently set up in practice and i am having problems with an ACCA accountant handing over information for his ex-clients who have come over to me. It has happened for a number of clients, i have sent him a letter (drafted after research on accounting web, asking if he has any objections, prev credit history etc and if he can provide copy of the last set of accounts, tax return etc) but he refuses to even respond to the letters.
On one occasion i called him up and was told there were outstanding fees, i informed my client who insisted their were'nt. When he went to see him, he was told oh! don't go to that accountant he is no good, he is'nt even chartered and has no experiance!

Another client got frustrated that i had'nt received a reply to two letters that i had sent for his details that he approached the old accountant direct and was told there wasn't a problem and didnt i know that i didn't need their permission!? (they still have'nt sent the old tax return or any other info). The client thinks this is a joke and that we are playing silly games! I'm thinking of going to the ACCA but i'm weary of dragging it out and having to provide evidence etc as the clients that have been affected are'nt too happy and i get the feeling are regretting changing accountants in the first place. What do you guys advise i do?

TMS

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20th Oct 2008 15:29

Trying nagging
You cannot be certain what information has been sent to HMRC regarding tax computations.
With the accounts, the whole balance sheet needs to be explained, including fixed asset register and bank reconciliation. The accounting records may be some help but it is a lot easier if the accountant provides the information. I prefer to nag a previous accountant which will result in them sending the information in a few minutes rather than spending many hours trying to work it out.

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By Anonymous
20th Oct 2008 10:54

Capital allowances
David what do you do about capital allowances/opening debtors and creditors - this is sometimes the only things you cant work out from the accounts/tax returns?

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17th Oct 2008 18:17

We just get on with it
When we get a new client, we send the professional letter to the old accountant: if we do not get a reply, we send another professional letter, including a reminder, by recorded delivery. We do not have to get a reply before starting work. The information we need can be obtained from the inland revenue or companies house or the client. The client can get the reference numbers from the inland revenue to put on the 64-8 's.
I can see that there might be some information that can only be obtained from the previous accountant, but we have never been in that situation.
The ICAEW says that fee disputes, in some situations, can be used as a reason to avoid sending the information to the new accountant. Arguing over it takes a lot of time and energy: some people have commented that reporting it to the professional body got nowhere. The only other way to get the information would be for the client to sue their old accountant, but that takes time, energy and money.

I think that we just have to accept that there are some accountants who are unprofessional, and will never change.

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By Anonymous
17th Oct 2008 13:28

Reporting to Disciplinary Bodies
I was asked to act on behalf of a client who had a Certified Accountant previously acting.

I wrote in November 2007, but never got a copy of the Financial Accounts and Tax Computations, including Capital Allowances, although this was specifically requested.

I contacted the firm several times, until, reluctantly, I contacted the Disciplinary Department of that Institute. I have copied the correspondence (including emails) in. That was several months ago.

Do the Disciplinary Bodies have any teeth?

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17th Oct 2008 12:18

I agree with Luke
Luke is completely right to make this comment here as this case is a perfect example of the problem.
The ICAEW are trying to make out that all accountants with Chartered in there title are faultless and all non Chartered are incapable of professional standards. The chairman of the ICPA is just looking for examples to prove this is not the case. This particular Chartered accountant sounds like just such an example of a Chartered accountant who is not acting in a professional manner.
The Chartered versus Non Chartered case has been mentioned many times on this site and it is quite clear there are both good and bad accountants in both groups.

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17th Oct 2008 15:09

Let's just have done with it........
....and open a separate blog (or even better, website) where everyone can publically post their complaints. Based on some responses (including the brave anonymous soles) there will be plenty of takers. Let's sub-divide into parts, such as :

Part I "qualifieds" complain about "unqualifieds" lack of co-operation
Part II "unqualifieds" complain about "qualifieds" lack of co-operation
Part III "qualifieds" complain about "qualifieds"
Part IV "unqualifieds" complain about "unqualifieds"

so we can keep count. At least it would provide a cure for insomnia.
Whoever said that accountants were boring.

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By Anonymous
17th Oct 2008 13:31

Chartered Accountants?
In the last 12 months I have had to write to 3 different firms for clearance for 3 different clients, which I am still waiting....... One Ltd Co, One sole trader and one Employee..... I am not a Chartered Accountant, but am a qualified accountant - IFA qualified.

The first one, refused to give clearance on the Ltd Co as the client had outstanding fees for their personal tax (which they had been doing themselves for the previous 2 years). The client complained to the ICAEW, but they said it was not a Disciplinary matter and they would not get involved.

I managed to get them to sort out their differences and the client received the outstanding draft accounts and working papers, a couple of months later.
They passed this to me, and because the company had 2 years o/s accounts to be done, I just got on with it. I had to completely re-do the draft accounts e.g. an OVERDRAWN PETTY CASH ACCOUNT (equivalent of 25% of turnover) had been treated as a bank loan! It has been suggested I complain, but its time consuming and I have better things to spend my time doing. (Working, CPD, visiting accountingweb etc...)

Client 2, was 3 months ago. Initially I got a single line informing me that their client had not told them and therefore would not be responding. So I asked the client to contact them. They did and were told that I was NOT A QUALIFIED ACCOUNTANT. This really annoyed the client. The client has contacted me 3 times now, only for me to say I have had nothing. They then ring the "old" accountant, who insists they will comply, but just haven't had time yet... mmmmmmm we shall see!

Client 3, was 2 months ago and I asked them to let their old accountant know. They came back with a demand, of "I must ask for clearance", which of course I did straight away.... I am still waiting. The client going to photocopy the contents of their " tax file" and post it to me, so at least I can get on with it. I can't even complete a 64-8 as I don't know their UTR etc.....

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By Anonymous
15th Oct 2008 16:51

Come on Luke......
Luke is their really any need for your posting - you do little to help your cause.

The age old Chartered v unqualifieds is just SO boring and all your posting is doing is added fuel to the fire.

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15th Oct 2008 15:07

chartered vs non-chartered
maybe you'd like to forward your details to Anthony Margaritelli – Chairman ICPA

Sounds like your chap is one of those that will ''protect'' his clients with his chartered status!!!


In the October 2008 Issue of “Accountancy” the following is announced by an ICAEW council member:

“We need to build the evidence base in order to provide the institute with the information it needs to be able to make representation on our behalf.

Are you a Chartered Accountant? Do you have specific examples of bad practice among unqualified accountants, particularly ones where you have been called in to sort out the mess?

If the answer is yes, you can send these to me and I will ensure that these examples are collated and put to good use as we try to make progress on this issue.”

The ICPA have been at the forefront of the campaign to counter the claims of any one Institute to the right to be able to be called an Accountant and we feel that the ICAEW have to be confronted.

Therefore as Chairman of the ICPA I put it to every non Chartered Accountant that:

Are you a non Chartered Accountant? Do you have specific examples of bad practice among Chartered Accountants, particularly ones where you have been called in to sort out the mess?

If the answer is yes, you can send these to me and I will ensure that these examples are collated and put to good use.”

Please email me at [email protected] or write to me at Imperial House, 1a Standen Avenue, Hornchurch, Essex RM12 6AA.


https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=189480

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15th Oct 2008 14:02

Write a firm but professional and courteous letter to the accountant indicating that in a given week (you must not state the actual date) you will be calling at his office to collect the required information and paperwork from him related to the client(s) who want you to act. Indicate that a colleague will accompany you. Suggest that you apologise for the inconvenience but there are matters that require urgent action. He will probably feel too uncomfortable to stand his ground.

His nerves may not hold. What a shame to resort to these absurd but necessary measures?
He will not know which days to be in the office that week, thereby losing the initiative. You need'nt have a colleague with you that day of course. It's just useful for the accountant to think you will. He will not like the anticipation of the 1 to 1.

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By Anonymous
14th Oct 2008 17:10

Swiss, although i have been running for over 2 years. I did'nt have any problems with this accountant till recently! i think he has realised he is losing too many (i dont think 6 is a lot) clients and he has resorted to this behaviour.

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By Anonymous
14th Oct 2008 17:00

Acquiring clients
When I set up my practice I was in a very similar situation. I opened a small office 5 minutes walk from my main competitor who had just been acquired by a new firm. The fall-out was fantastic - I gained about 20 of their clients in a very short space of time. They came to me as they didnt like the new guy running the firm and word spread like wild-fire. Needless to say they werent very co-operative in providing handover information!

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By Anonymous
14th Oct 2008 16:37

2 years!
you've been chasing for clearance for 2 years????

how have you managed to service the clients in the meantime? you must have got some info on opening balances etc from somewhere?

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14th Oct 2008 16:15

Doesn't happen often
You have recently set up in practice and already you have six clients from one accountant?
How did you get them?
What are your fees and what is the other accountant's fees?

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By Anonymous
14th Oct 2008 16:14

Swiss
(Thanks for your advice earlier)
To clarify, Maybe the term "recent" is misleading. These clients have migrated over a period 2 years (feels like yesterday) and there was no insider info at all. It was the cheaper price and also (as i keep getting told) the better service (i get a lot of recommendations). Other firms have all been co-operative (some were even friendly!).

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By Anonymous
14th Oct 2008 16:02

curious
despite the reduced fees how did you manage to get so many clients to cross over to you in short space of time?

did you have any insider info to tap them up?? :)

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By Anonymous
14th Oct 2008 15:53

James Smith
The thing is not "that many" have come over. In total were looking at around half a dozen (all small sole trader clients). I think he is annoyed that my fees are cheaper and he does'nt want to lose clients but does'nt want to reduce his fees either.

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By Anonymous
14th Oct 2008 14:29

ACCA member
It sounds like this accountant is clearly miffed that your acquiring his clients and feels you are inferior.

My advice is keep it as professional as possible. Remind him you are asking for reasonable handover information which should not be refused on the grounds of unpaid fees and that if he fails to co-operate you will report him to the ACCA.

In the meantime advise him in writing that despite his lack of co-operation to ensure the clients affairs are dealt with you will be acting and as Swiss suggests get the old tax returns from HMRC. You can generally piece together all that you need from the old accounts and last years tax return.

Just be careful your not acquiring a client who isnt going to pay you as well.

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By Anonymous
14th Oct 2008 13:44

Only way
he obviously has sour grapes as you've taken numerous clients off him

never an easy situation

send a letter enclosing a copy of every letter you have sent him and explain that unless you get a satisfactory reply within say 7 days then you will have no option to report him to ACCA professional conduct department.

if he doesnt reply report him, his actions are taking the p@?s

heres how

http://www.acca.co.uk/members/professionalstandards/complaints/how

you could always write to HMRC data protection for copies of returns etc as a last resort but there is what seems to be a 3 year backlog for this!

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