As we have seen on Any Answers in recent weeks, few topics generate as much anger as the activities of unqualified accountants.
Just over a week ago, AccountingWEB member ireallyshouldknowthisbut voiced concerns about people who appear to be offering services to the general public without a firm underpinning of basic knowledge of accounts and tax.
“Its highly dangerous for the client who remains often blissfully unaware until something blows up. Not quite as bad as your gas boiler exploding due to years of bodging, but financially the results can be not so dissimilar,” the member wrote.
The term “accountant” still has no official legal status in the UK, though people who have qualified through professional bodies are covered by standards of learning and professional conduct.
That results in numerous exchanges on this site about what it means to call yourself an accountant and the degree to which the professional qualification is a meaningful identifier.
Some members who are “qualified by experience” have little time for the institutes, or have even walked away from them as the relevance of their qualifications declined and the cost of their fees went up. HMRC acknowledges the existence of this group of practitioners and has even taken on responsibility for regulating them for anti-money laundering purposes. As the Agent Services regime develops around Making Tax Digital, the tax department is going to play an even more active role in regulating the profession.
What can be done to protect consumers from cowboy accountants and to ensure a fair, but quality-monitored playing field for those offering accountancy services?
Long-time AccountingWEB contributor Richard Sergeant will be trying to resolve this question in his “The Problem With…” webinar at on 1pm on Tuesday.
With so many different points of view and the heat surrounding the subject, it can be hard to get a clear view. Once you delve into the details, the debate is nowhere near as clearcut as it sometimes appears, Richard said. But he’s interested in hearing the points AccountingWEB members on this forum would like to feed into the discussion.
So what would you like Richard and his fellow panellists Jeremy Clark (ICAS assistant director of practice), Eriona Bajrakurtaj (Majors Accounts) and Steve Knowles (Knowles Warwick) to address?
“There’s a lot to cover,” Richard told me earlier today. “We’re going to approach the discussion in an organised, dispassionate way to try and bring some clarity to an issue on which everybody seems to have strong opinions.”