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Renewing ICAEW Professional Fees

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I have seen older threads regarding this but nothing new and I'm wondering whether opinions have changed.  I'm a sole practitioner working for sole traders and small limited companies.  I have felt for a long time that I don't get any value from my professional membership - I pay about £800 a year but I get nothing for it and if I ever want anything online or to take part in a course or webinar it's at an extra cost.  I'm about to subscribe to Tolleys at almost £200 a month which I am happy to pay as I can see a massive use from this and the fact I can't even spread my membership fees over the year is just the final straw for me.  I know I worked hard for my qualifications but no-one else cares!  Is there anyone else in a similar situation?  I am 33.  Would you keep up your subscription?


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14th Sep 2018 14:10

I keep mine up.

Others dont.

Depends on you quite frankly and what you are doing now and likely to do in the future.

Quite frankly is a minor cost IMO, and i find the ethics helpline has got me out of bother more than once, and being a CA can help with references for banks etc from time to time too.

Thanks (3)
14th Sep 2018 13:52

If you leave then you are in the hands of HMRC for ML purposes. Not sure of the cost, but it's certainly not free!

You may regret it if the profession either becomes more regulated or a dream post crops up in the future that needs a qualification.

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14th Sep 2018 14:09

At 33, I'd probably keep it up.

You don't know if you're going to need it in the next thirty odd years. Anything could happen.

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14th Sep 2018 14:14

I left the ACCA about 6 years ago after giving up auditing and, like you, realising that they were doing nothing for me, as a sole practitioner.

The planet has kept turning and I’m the best part of £4K better off.

The only negative has been a couple of sticky mortgage applications where the clients were stretched and, in one, another accountant had to be called in to sign off the accounts.

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14th Sep 2018 14:33

ML fees for HMRC supervision £115 last year and then there was a one-off fee of about £39 to help HMRC with their increasing costs!
I would jack your membership in as a very last resort.
The support from my own professional body is embarrassingly poor. That is unless you want a monthly magazine explaining the pros and cons of accounting for transactions on planet mars or something as esoteric as that!
It you keep on moving onward and upward you will eventually get another client who will earn you £800 in no time, so I would reluctantly persist, especially being so young.
But £800 is a lot of money. I do not know who these professional bodies think they are sometimes.
For a fledgling business it is a crushing cost. There is so much to pay out for nowadays.

Thanks (6)
By Maslins
14th Sep 2018 14:55

What ireallyshouldknowthisbut said.

AML/ethics helpline I've used perhaps once a year. Not a lot, but has been good. Mortgage references with some lenders (ie ones with their own form, not accepting SA302s) are tricky without a recognised qualification.

Also as others have suggested, if you were to drop the ICAEW, you'd have to sign up for AML with HMRC.

Thanks (2)
14th Sep 2018 15:12

The benefits of your annual subscriptions, regardless of what the marketing blurb says, are difficult to define. What is clear is that institutes know the emotional attachment we have to our qualifications. Something so hard-earned is difficult to bin.

Fast forward 20 years and you might be even more cynical about the poor VFM your membership offers. In my view, though, you might want to wait and see. Institutes might wake up in future and realise that they need to do more to keep their members.

If I were you, specifically, I would wait until your career has 'peaked'. At your age there could be many twists and turns ahead of you - growth, purchase, merger, consultancy, emigration, industry - where the letters after your name will open more doors.

In 10 years, you will have invested/wasted (delete as appropriate) a further £8k in subscriptions. In the context of your potential lifetime earnings it could look like loose change.

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By Matrix
14th Sep 2018 18:28

I would keep it since you studied hard for the exams.

I use the helplines occasionally, used to go on courses but the ones I wanted to go on in the last few years were not priced for the sole practitioner. I don’t think they are that interested in us.

I have met a few local accountants at events and would go to more if they weren’t in the evening.

I have used the workspace and library in London too.

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15th Sep 2018 11:49

£800 is a trivial cost. After say 40% tax relief and 2% NIC relief the actual cost is a mere £464. As other say you will end up running into difficulties in giving mortgage references etc. There is a hidden cost in that some potential clients will do their due diligence when choosing an accountant and see that you are an unqualified and you will never even hear from them. This is a fact as I have had numerous new clients over the years, who said that they came to us as the other firm they were considering didn't appear to be Chartered etc.

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By djn24
18th Sep 2018 10:15

I agree with your comments but feel that being part of ACCA/ICAEW is probably just about worth it. No hassle with mortgage applications and not having to deal with HMRC for ML.
ACCA are a fair bit cheaper than ICAEW- we've just changed and were quite surprised.

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By Platta
18th Sep 2018 10:27

As a small practitioner it is difficult to identify the day to day benefits of professional membership. In my view the professional bodies have done a very poor job at defending the Accountant/Chartered Accountant designation, and marketing the additional protection, and reliability of technical expertise, they get by engaging a professional member. The task of educating existing and potential clients then falls to us.

I have retained my membership for many of the reasons mentioned in other responses. Membership has also opened doors to some opportunities such as Independent Review work, and Board membership/Treasurer of a Chamber of Commerce. Certainly in my previous corporate role - my membership was vital to career progression.

In one of the responses someone referred to the highly technical content of some professional magazines - often geared to larger practices and corporates. I took additional membership of ICPA, who do really good work at representing smaller practices, with the mebership cost offset by free PI. very well worth a look.

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18th Sep 2018 15:13

I gave up my membership of the ICAEW about ten years ago and have not missed it but possibly because I am also a member of the CIOT and STEP. I was able to keep my membership of the Tax Faculty of the ICAEW and that is brilliant with lots of support and free webinars.
That said, if the ICAEW was my only professional body, I would keep my membership and review in ten years' time.

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18th Sep 2018 15:17

Have you considered joining The Institute of Financial Accountants see offers much better value for money and CPD at either no cost or for a small fee. You can have your Practice Certificate with them at lower cost and no need to sit other exams as you would get exemption if ICAEW qualified.Check it out.

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30th Sep 2018 16:13

I have been considering the same myself.
In my research, I found out that for members with income < £14,014 there is a low membership rate, and for income £14,015 - £28,028 the membership is half rate. This reduction has to be applied for.
I also found that there appears to be a practising certificate fee exemption which can be applied for if you are a sole practitioner or a sole director and sole shareholder of a limited company. Although the wording is not very easy to understand so I could be mistaken.
This may not apply to you but it may help someone else.

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