Save content
Have you found this content useful? Use the button above to save it to your profile.
AIA

SMEs warned against ‘rogue’ accountants by new campaign

by
10th Jun 2010
Save content
Have you found this content useful? Use the button above to save it to your profile.

Campaigners are calling on accounting bodies to protect the term ‘accountant’ for those with professional qualifications only.

Small businesses are receiving bad advice and poor service from ‘rogue and incompetent’ accountants, according to a new campaign which is appealing to accounting bodies to protect the term ‘accountant’ for qualified professionals only.

Campaigners have set up a website www.whatisanaccountant.co.uk, inviting members of the public to sign an online petition and share ‘horror stories’.

“The term ‘accountant’ isn’t regulated and anyone can call themselves an accountant – it doesn’t matter whether they have the necessary formal qualifications, examinations, insurance or experience,” said campaign organiser Elaine Clark, chartered accountant and managing director of CheapAccounting.co.uk.

Increasingly, she says, many small firms are complaining about the poor guidance and service they receive from so-called ‘accountants’, who frequently disappear when their shortcomings become exposed.

“The consequences range from bad business choices and unnecessarily high tax bills to fines for late filing, which places a burden on small firms they can ill afford – especially given current economic conditions. Bad tax advice could even lead to the failure of some businesses,” warned Clark.

“Nearly 230,000 late-filing penalties were imposed in 2009/2010 by Companies House, which gives some idea of the scale of just one symptom of the problem,” she added.

The campaign is calling on major UK accounting bodies to educate businesses about the level of experience, formal qualification and service they should expect from their accountant.

“An awareness campaign along the lines of Gas Safe is needed and the main UK accounting bodies should fund and back it. Only with their support can the term ‘accountant’ be understood by those that need to use one,” said Clark.
 

 

Tags:

Replies (49)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
By B Adder
11th Jun 2010 10:54

It's not only the cowboys

who shoot themslves in the foot...........

check out the second bullet point

Straight through the metatarsel - ouch !

Thanks (0)
By coolmanwithbeard
11th Jun 2010 10:58

Libel?

I object to being called a rogue and the general flavour of this article which also implies that late filing penalties are the fault of unqualified accountants.

I expect better from this site and certainly more balance, I offer good advice and client's stuff is done on time. If there is a late filing penalty it is because a client has failed to provide me with what I need - I don't see how a qualification would help with this issue frankly.

I have picked up plenty of rubbish from the qualifieds over the years!

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By jasonholden
11th Jun 2010 11:00

.

I fail to see how fines for late filing of Accounts with Companies House can be cited, as this is usually a result of the client rather than an accountant leaving everything till the last minute, unless Elaine has some inside knowledge?

Surely business failure can also not really be cited, being 'qualified' does not make you a business advisor nor competent to give advice, just look at the number of postings on AWeb about accountants thinking about setting up who are asking very basic question, I know a few years ago a Chartered Accountant who went on a government run days seminar to see if he could run a business, and he was supposed to be giving advice!

I personally think the term does need protecting, but how? Tax is mentioned, there will be many accountants giving tax advice, but surely the most competent to do this are Chartered Tax Advisers, does this mean there is a need for Tax Adviser to be a protected status and you should only use one of them for such advice and not a 'mere' accountant?

I am sure this arguement will not go away.

Jason

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 11:04

Selective journalism from AWeb?

The campaign is not protect the term accountant for those who are qualified but more to protect businesses from those who set themselves up as accountants and do not meet a minimum standard i.e. have PII cover, undertake regular CPD etc.

The aim is for there to be a body that oversees anyone who calls themself an accountant so that if a business does encounter a 'cowboy' there is a body that they can complain to.

But stoking up the qualified v unqualified debate makes for better readership figures and comments

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 11:09

Accountants by any other name

 Here we go again!

Inevitably we will have the Chartered Accountants start a turf war saying they are the only one's competent and it should be limited to them only.

This argument is not confined to the UK and consistently its always one Institute which claims dominance. Guess which one.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Anne Marie Sewell
11th Jun 2010 11:10

Rogue accountants

 I wish to comment. I am a Chartered Secretary and Tax Technician. I work to a very, very high standard and yes, I see lots of poor work done but, in my experience some of the poor work is done by the qualified accountants as well as the unqualifieds.

I have in fact just been through an absolutely horrifying experience with a new client, complete catalogue of lack of care and breaches of law and tax rules, from a supposedly professional firm.  And I could list plenty of other experiences, even from the very big professional firms.

I am classed as an "unprofessional" because I don't belong to an accountancy body. But, I do all the CPD, I have insurance and everything is done correctly because my work is only done by properly qualified people, not delegated down to juniors.

So where would this put me? Do think carefully please. In some cases the "professionals" would need to get their house in order first.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By john5052
11th Jun 2010 11:14

Unqualified accountants v qualified accountants

What is the problem some qualified accountants have with their unqualified colleagues? It has nothing to do with protecting SMEs but looking after their own selfish interests.So much for deluding SMEs!

In my experience as an unqualified accountant in practice for over 30 years, SMEs really need protection from some of our qualified brethren.This minority use their qualification to delude SMEs their qualification alone makes them competant.It does not and,just as there are unqualifieds who should not practice as "accountants",there are a good number of qualifieds who also should not be allowed to practice as "accountants".

Professional competance is not a matter of qualification but experience and ability.Do not delude yourself that a qualification alone gives you either.

Johnboy

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 11:16

Legislating competence??

 I have seen rubbish produced by a big 6 audit firm. I have seen and the Courts subsequently confirmed fraud turned a blind eye to by big 6 audit firms.

Remember Enron and Arthur Anderson.

I have also seen many "unqualified" accountants do a damn good job. Yes they would maybe struggle doing a larger company with many IFRS issues but so what. Accounting is not rocket science you know.

Its not the piece of paper from University (yes I have one!) or the name, but practical competence and integrity. Legislation does not get that.

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By mrshamilton
11th Jun 2010 11:22

Oh dear

This is a badly worded and ill thought out website.

You have done your cause far more harm than good!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 11:23

Protecting the term "Accountant"

 This discussion has been running for years, with no solution identified.

Is the restriction to be applied to people in practice who are current members of a professional body? or would people who have previously qualified but are no longer members due to the high costs of membership and the membership obligations?

There are very good unqualified accountants, just like there are some very bad firms of ICAEW or ACCA members.

To protect the term would mean a oversight body with extra staff and costs. At these times, which firms want to pay more fees. 

The objective is to should force bad accountants (whoever they are) out of work, either by taking their clients or if serious enough reporting them to HMRC for assisting tax evasion.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By kathrynfletcher
11th Jun 2010 11:40

The debate shouldn't just be about qualification

I have already commented on this subject on the UK Business Forum and to save looking it up:

'I have worked with qualified and non-qualified people in the accountancy industry over the last 26 years and qualification doesn't automatically mean better. However what I would like to see is that the term 'accountant' is only used for by people who are regulated and therefore have PI insurance, carry out regular CPD, have a body that you can make complaints to, and that comply with the money laundering regulations. There are too many 'accountants' out there who are still not registered with anyone for Money Laundering purposes and that 'guess' at accounts and tax. I come across it all too often. Normally accompanied by a Revenue enquiry letter that needs dealing with first. Its about quality standards not exams. People need to know what they are getting and at the moment they don't.'
 

I have also signed Elaine's petition.  Purely as an exercise to raise awareness. 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 11:45

PR Exercise

Nothing more than a PR exercise for cheap accounting - but it's working and now we all know where to go for cheap accounts!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 12:02

Agree with Kathryn

You're right, it's about quality and not necessarily qualifications. Providing there are quality standards, a supervisory money laundering body and PI insurance then there's no problem in my humble view.

It's us, the members of the professional bodies that will end up paying for this 'campaign' through an increase in fees and nobody else.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By smdavies
11th Jun 2010 12:42

Misguided

Having looked at the website I would have to concur with previous comments that to use this issue as a lever to force out "unqualified" practioners is at best misguided. I am a practising chartered accountant for over 15 years and the majority of 'horror cases' I have come across have sadly been from qualified practices.

I think this website and accoutning web's stance misses the point, surely the issue is about professional standards and having a minimum requirement in respect of standards, terms of engagement and insurance etc. whether you are qualified by membership or by experience. There is however a need for a level playing field and this is where the disparity of non-membership of an accountancy body does cause issues as how else can you ensure that these are being applied? Leaving the status quo is not a good option as eventually the rule book will get written without consultation which will leave a regime imposed by a misunderstanding authority (HMRC!!) or worse dealing with some poorly drafted legislation.

I would urge those who are not members of a professional body to make arrangements or expect to have something imposed on you.

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 13:02

Qualified v unqualified Accountants

As a former Inspector of Taxes on accounts investigations/enquiries covering many small SME's I regularly saw poor workings from both qualified and unqualified accountants and can say this was split almost 50/50. It's not always the accountants that are at fault, often thier clients provide either incorrect or incomplete information. I think the question here is not as simple as that indicated by the business advertiser (sorry writer), HMRC have always had a reasonable knowledge of who does and who doesn't do a good job and will no doubt target these accordingly. There are many competent unqualified accountants who simply freeze up when it comes to taking exams as can happen in most walks of life, being able to pass an exam does not mean that you can do the job properly, how many accountants complain about Inspectors not doing the job properly and all of these would have passed testing exams with HMRC, they are still called Inspectors! I think the whole exam set up needs looking at in depth and totally reorganising. I myself cannot take any more exams (as much as I would like to) because of a disability that prevents me writing properly, it doesn't stop me using a computer but professional exam boards do not take account of this so I cannot under any circumstances become qualified but the writer of the article would happily take away my ability to trade when on the whole I do a good job to which my clients would testify. It's not simply a black and white argumet!

Thanks (0)
PAH Accounting Devizes Wiltshire
By Phil Hendy
11th Jun 2010 13:51

Fully supportive

Actually I am totally with Elaine on this one.

We work hard to achieve our professional qualifications. Even once we have qualified we can't act as an accountant until we have further experience.  And yet someone who has limited experience can just set up on our own.

I can certainly say that I have come across more shoddy work from unqualified accountants where I have taken over as their accountant than qualified firms. And what is worse is that the client has no recourse. At least as a qualified firm I can say I am regulated and standards are more likely to be maintained. A client can complain to my professional body and action would be taken. This can be quite costly.

The biggest issue around it is that the clients are being misled, albeit it not deliberately. If you say you are an accountant you must be qualified is a common assumption I come across.

Of course not all unqualified accountants are rogues but they should at least be expected to be regulated correctly.

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 14:02

Awareness not Qualification

I've also followed this over at UKBF and signed the petition to show support for increased awareness. It's a shame it wasn't portrayed on this site as such. 

Thanks (0)
PAH Accounting Devizes Wiltshire
By Phil Hendy
11th Jun 2010 14:02

Also agree with Kathryn

Having reread some of the comments I also think Kathryn sums it up nicely.

Become regulated and undertake CPD. I am sure most unqualified will do courses etc. anyway.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By gilbertdeclare
11th Jun 2010 14:22

Protection equals profit.

If the term accountant was protected there would be less price undercutting. 

Solicitors have a high charge out rates because you have to be qualified. There has to barriers of entry into the profession to protect our lifestyles.  There has to be a difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper. There has to be two tiers. The general public are entitled to receive a certain minimum standard of service and they need to know in advance the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper and what each can offer. Please note that I am not saying one is better than other.   Demarcation is required.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 14:49

Nothing will change

This argument , as some have mentioned, has been going on for a long time. Nothing will change.

There are more and more "accountants" being brought to the market by accountancy franchiors promising big returns with 5 weeks training and a massive franchise fee. This was debated before https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/anyanswers/becoming-accountant-5-weeks

As an ex franchisee (qualified), these franchisees were put before clients giving advice with only 5 weeks training. We were trained to introduce ourselves as accountants. Furthermore, we were also trained how to dodge the question - Are you a qualified accountant?". The way we were trained to address this was to say yes on the basis you qualified with us in five 5 weeks. "You are a qualified franchisor name accountant".

Clients were taken in by impressive marketing material.

It does not help when our own professional bodies give these franchiors advertising space in monthly magazines. I would undertand if these franchiors only took appropriately qualified accountants.

This situation will carryon. I do not see any willingness on the part of the regualtory bodies to change this.

Franchiors will carryon minting this and franchisees will become an accountants in 5 weeks. At least clients have some protection with franchise network since franchisors (some of them!) will do everthing to ensure their brand is not damaged.

 

 

 

Thanks (0)
By The Minion
11th Jun 2010 16:21

Isnt the focus of this supposed to be the client

It shouldnt matter about the qualified unqualified status.

There have to be minimum expectations of the service and protection that a client should have. Isnt the simplest thing to have legislation that governs all those proving accounting/tax services? Focussing on the term accountant really misses the point because a simple bit of spin to change to a business consultant gets past that.

If the various bodies still want to control their members then the new body could sub contract the monitoring to them, subject to having the same set of rules and penalties.

A minimum CPD and PI would have to apply and there would be a requirement to display your registration number in all adverts and stationery (which could be searched on t'internet to prove they are actually insured etc etc). Then we are all on a level playing field.

Of course eventually this could just lead to a single body governing the accountancy/tax world......

I await the avalanche of comments:)

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By kathrynfletcher
11th Jun 2010 16:44

Public awareness

Even if we did bring in some joint regulatory body for all 'accountants', there would have to be some advertising campaign to make the public aware of it.  I wasn't aware of the change from CORGI to Gas Safe until I met a heating engineer at a networking event recently.  If only the regulated people know about it then there is no point in having it.  This is something that HMRC could actually get behind also and suggest to tax payers that if they do take professional advice that it is from a regulated adviser and before the barrage starts I'm talking any new regulation not just the current professional bodies.

This should after all be about the client and not the adviser.

Thanks (0)
By The Minion
11th Jun 2010 16:55

Agreed

That is exactly what i am saying.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By chatman
11th Jun 2010 20:10

Solicitors and Doctors

 How does protecting the term "accountant" differ from protecting the terms "solicitor" and "doctor"?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 21:07

What Qualifications make a Qualified Accountant?

I have read this thread with much interest and I have the following genuine question:-

Would a qualified member of the AAT with a relevant practising licence and PI insurance be considered as 'qualified'?

I would be particularly interested in Elaine’s (CheapAccounting) response to this although feedback from any ICAEW or ACCA would also be appreciated.

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 21:37

Overcharging

I have the utmost respect for Chartered Accountants and the services that they provide.

The problem that I have with restricting the title of Accountant is that, once again, we are assuming that the individual seeking an 'accountant' cannot take responsibility for his own decision. Is it really likely that an entrepreneur can be hoodwinked into engaging an unqualified accountant or is it more likely that such an individual wants something for nothing i.e. cheap accounting services

If the term ‘accountant’ is to be restricted does this mean that Chartered practices will be over qualified for bookkeeping, VAT, payroll and other compliance work including the filing of statutory accounts and returns? Will they turn this work away and stop overcharging?

I have over fifteen years experience in Chartered Accountancy practice and, whilst the ethical, professional and service levels delivered cannot be disputed, there seems to be a tendency to bill as much as you can get away with for a particular task rather than linking this to the level of qualification and experience required to complete a task.

I would estimate that at least 70% of any practice income relates to compliance work that is not likely to be completed by a Chartered or certified accountant unless it is audit related – is this value for money for the client?

Is this thread aimed at protecting practice revenue or protecting the client?

If it is revenue protection that is required then I suggest that you look at the fees proposed by Cheap Accounting – can you compete?

…………………………or is this marketing for Cheap Accounting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
11th Jun 2010 21:42

not marketing cheap accounting

This is not marketing for cheap accounting since the main audiance here are accountants of all sorts who can prepare their own accounts. I have no connection with cheap acc.

Thanks (0)
By The Minion
11th Jun 2010 23:12

cheap accounting appear to have decided what you need

a qualified for and what you dont need a qualified for, having been curious enough to look at the website:

 

Those which are repetitive, can be automated and where the client can do some of the work e.g. recording your transactions, producing a set of accounts etc

 

Areas which require the expertise of a qualified accountant e.g. advising on your tax situation, completing your various returns

So there you have it, qualifieds do tax and it doesnt matter who does accounts, problem solved!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By smokywizard
12th Jun 2010 00:56

I suggest qualified or not is not the issue!

I've recently taken on 3 new clients. Though it's not something I usually discuss I admit I’m not qualified; but with these three new clients the situation was discussed.

2 are Limited companies, the other a partnership.

The first is a Limited Company in London who previously engaged a firm of chartered accountants, not only did they file Corporation Tax returns late but had it not been for the fact that the company owed Corporations Tax the Company would have been struck off due to not submitting the Companies Annual Return.

He previously engaged his sister who had to decline the on advice from her professional body. The client didn't understand why but I suspect she was an employee and didn't have a practising certificate and maybe no Professional Indemnity Insurance.

The second Company had down sized and wanted to trim “the expense of a chartered firm”. Apparently the first response was, 'I hope he's chartered' such arrogance! The client wasn’t at all phased but the comment. I think it strengthened his resolve.

The partnership felt that after the main partner left they were shunted off to be dealt with by a junior that they couldn't relate to.

I've recently set my thoughts out at: 

Other comments:

I've had clients say, 'A sense of humour would be nice.' I couldn’t understand a word he said' 'He has is head stuck up his...'

From speaking to clients who've had previous chartered accountants I get the feeling accountants sometimes forget that communication isn't about big words and figures etc. You wouldn’t speak English to a French man who had no understanding of English so why oh why do they speak accountaneese to those that haven't a clue about finance. My clients are comfortable with me, I speak their language and don’t feel intimidated to ask me questions.

The chartered have there place in the National and International stage, and frankly I don't want to go there as I’d rather deal and relate to real people rather that faceless corporations, but also the small business doesn’t want to pay the price and there's no reason why they should.

You might like to checkout my bolg http://joemartin7.blogspot.com/2010/06/answer-to-paul1daylater-whos-on-twitter.html

From time to time I use the services of a partner of a national accounting firm on taxation issues of which I'm not confident. He has admitted to me that they employ unqualified people who are very good at what they do and qualified people that are not so!

At the end of the day the important issue is whether the Accountant has Professional Indemnity Insurance.

 

For the record I'm not qualified but I do have a practising certificate and Professional Indemnity Insurance

I expect put downs. There seem to be those that wish to just hurl stones rather that engage in debate! Bring it on!!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By kathrynfletcher
12th Jun 2010 08:51

Not wanting to deviate from the subject but..

A couple of post I wanted to answer to:

My argument has never been about qualification so the person who asked about the AAT, I would assume is regulated by the ATT and are required by the AAT to have a practicing certificate, PI insurance and to carry out regular CPD.  If so, then there is no reason why someone who uses the initials AAT can't refer to themselves as an 'Accountant'Not all Chartered Accountants work for national and international firms.  I qualified with KPMG many years ago but prefer to work with the smaller SMEs.  I am a sole practitioner and have someone who works for me who isn't qualified.  As I want to use the term Chartered Accountant in the firm name I am regulated by the ICAEW.  I may be a little more expensive than the non-regulated firm up the road but that's about the extra cost incurred for regulation.  We don't all talk a foreign language, infact I have been told many times that I'm not what they would have expected an accountant to be like. That's good.. I think.  I work with a national firm of Chartered Accountants for the areas that are out of my comfort zone or I'm not authorised to do, like audits. We do, do bookkeeping, payroll, VAT returns etc, but charge an appropriate rate. Clients don't want two firms working for them. There will always be an overlap in charges.

The general public don't always know the difference between a regulated and unregulated firm.  Why would they? Its not made public. If they knew they could make the choice.

No link to my website or social media links.  Its about protecting the taxpayer not revenue protection or generation.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By cymraeg_draig
12th Jun 2010 11:16

Protectionism

I hope the Institutes are prepared for the restraint of trade claims which will be filed against them. 

The term "accountant" is not capable of being "protected" and any atempt to do so would be illegal.

As regards the "justification" - utter drivel.  The truth is that the institutes wish to form a cartel to force prices up to the detriment of clients.

Incidently, I've been qualified for 40 years and I've seen lots of bad work - most from qualifieds.  Also I've seen crooked accountants in court - again most of them qualified.

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By chatman
12th Jun 2010 17:26

Restraint of Trade

CD - How would the restraint of trade thing work? 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By cymraeg_draig
12th Jun 2010 23:15

.
Restraint of Trade

CD - How would the restraint of trade thing work?

 

Posted by chatman on Sat, 12/06/2010 - 17:26

 

There must be thousands of QBE's who have legally and correctly traded as accountants for years. At a guess 90% of them will be trading as "Bloggs & Co Accountants", or just plain "Joe Soap, Accountant". The point being that they can demonstrate that their business title or style has included the term - accountant. 

Now, anyone wishing to effectively "trade mark" that word has a serious problem.  Firstly they must prove that they and they alone are entitled to exclusive use of it. Pesonally I think they would fall at the first hurdle. The term accountant has been used for decades to describe any accountant, qualified or not.  The terms Chartered and Certified have been used to differentiate qualified from not qualified.  Therefore they must first convince the courts that some further differentiation is necessary.  Of course QBE's could counter claim that the word accountant, without and prefix of chartered/certified is actually their description and is accepted as such by general usage.  They could indeed claim that qualified accounts should be forbidden from using the word accountant without the prefix.

It is quite obvious that the attempt to restrict the use of a term which has been generally accepted for years, is, as is very clear from the proposition, intended as protectionism (illegal under european law), and, that to stop someone from using a term which they have legally used for x years, is in fact a restraint of trade as it denies that person the ability to continue his/her business in the way it has previously traded. 

At that point the issue of damages would arrise, and I could see an arguement where a QBE curently eaning, say £80,000 a year from his own practice, would have little difficulty in arguing that if no longer allowed to use the term accountant his income would be halved.  That would therefore give rise to a claim for damages of £40,000 x however many years he had left to retirement.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As regards the website inviting members of the pubic to share "horror stories".  Again there is a serious risk of a claim for libel arising from that should anyone be identifiable (they dont have to actually be named, so long as a reader could reasonably deduce who they are).

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By cymraeg_draig
12th Jun 2010 23:31

Look at their website -

http://www.cheapaccounting.co.uk/

Quite frankly Ive seen more professional QBE's.  This is a franchise outfit [removed by mod - opinion, unsubstaniated]

It brags about how cheap they are - yet claims a quality service?  Yes, we all believe that one.

Everything about their website and the claims it makes simply yells [removed by mod - opinion, unsubstaniated].  No wonder they can't stand the opposition - too many QBEs making them look bad.

Then of course, you look at their "Join us" section. 

So, £7,000 upfront and 10% of all your fees - for? 

And they are campaigning to put thousands of QBE's out of business?  No surprise really is it.  After all most of theit competitors in the franchise market use quite a lot of QBE's.

Oh I do hope they respond.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By chatman
13th Jun 2010 01:01

Restraint of Trade

I see your point CD, about the European law and protectionism, but how does this work in the case of doctors and  solicitors, whose descriptions are protected by law?

With regard to trade marks, is anyone really suggesting trade-marking the decription?

Thanks (0)
By The Minion
13th Jun 2010 08:37

god forbid that

this would be a "one man band" running it from home with a dormant company and enough time on his hands to knock up a website.

Why would they keep the fact that they are governed by ICAEW secret?

Why not have simple contact details so that people can see who and what they are dealing with?

I assume that Cheap Accounting Limited is nothing to do with Cheap Accountant Limited which i assume is actually run by a Mr Cheap?

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By kathrynfletcher
13th Jun 2010 08:50

Its more about accreditation

I take the point about trademarking 'Accountant'.  We are too far down the road for that.  It may be what the industry needs is some kind of accreditation scheme for accountants to become part of, a bit like Gas Safe (or CORGI as it was).  People will (I would like to hope) make sure that they have a heating engineer accredited by Gas Safe . In the same way we need something in this industry that allows the general public to be protected.  What scares me are the people that have a little bit of bookkeeping experience and think that they can then go on and charge people for preparing their tax returns.  I have seen it and 9/10 there have been mistakes because they haven't kept up to date with tax legislation or don't know the differences between accounts and tax treatment of items.

There would need to be some public awareness campaign about the accreditation though so people knew about it. 

I'm not suggesting we restrict people's trade if they are doing it right.  If these bookkeepers want to do regular  relevant CPD and take out PI insurance then great.  Let them and then get an accreditation.  There are bookkeeping bodies but I don't think the people I am talking about are even members of those. 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By cymraeg_draig
13th Jun 2010 10:33

kathrynfletcher

 

I wouldnt disagree with some sort of "registration".  However, what I do disagree with is when outfits like "CheapAccountants" try to whip up hysteria claiming to be acting in the public interest, when in fact it is clear they are simply trying to get rid of the opposition so they can make a few extra £'s.

Similarly if the Institutes wewre to run a similar campaign, then the term protectionism would spring to mind.

There are many QBE's out there who don't actually run their own practices, but do prepare the odd set of accounts for "mates" etc. and I see no reason why that should change. What would be the next step?  Lobby HMRC to stop then accepting Returns not prepared by qualified accountants?  We would have to rename the system from "self assessment" to "self (but only if youre qualified) assessment".   

Thanks (0)
avatar
By kathrynfletcher
13th Jun 2010 11:02

In reply

I don't have any problem with people preparing accounts for their 'mates' because the mates know what they are getting.

There are more than just the Chartered and Certified bodies out there, like AAT, Institute of Certified Bookkeepers to name two off the top of my head. Why can't we all get together and form some kind of common accreditation - a quality stamp. 

Its up to HMRC what they do. The reason I brought them into the argument was because they are the only body in touch with all taxpayers. They could publicise the accreditation.  If you still want your mate to do it or someone not accredited to do it if you don't want to do it yourself then fine, but at least you are aware of the risks.  Going back to the Gas Safe situation, you can still get someone not accredited by Gas Safe but you know the risks.

Anyone not already regulated by another body has to come under the HMRC umbrella for Money Laundering reporting, so why couldn't the book keepers/accountants not belonging to another professional body get some sort of accreditation from HMRC.

This discussion shouldn't be about qualification/non qualification it should be about quality standards and protecting the taxpayer.  You will still get awful accountants (qualified or not) out there no matter what we do but if the taxpayer has some sort of recourse then the accreditation can be removed. 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By johnjenkins
13th Jun 2010 21:40

HMRC acredited scheme

Firstly, let me start a petition that doesn't allow WD to retire!!!!!!!! You always seem to hit the nail on the head.

Any scheme would have to be run on a day to day basis. The cost of this would have to be bourne by the QBE's. Unless legislation is involved would QBE's pay?????????

It is my view that a problem requiring rectification doesn't exist. There are "cowboys" in every trade or profession and no more exists in the "Accountancy" world. In fact, because of the way we do business with HMRC "cowboys" are weeded out very quickly.

Most tax payers are very particular about who they give their most important information to and can distinguish between an "Accountant" who knows what they are talking about and one who is not up to it, qualifications don't come into it.

I have been in practice for nearly 40 years and not one client or HMRC have asked whether I am qualified. Financial Institutions ask all the time.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By cymraeg_draig
13th Jun 2010 23:19

Maybe my last contribution

Firstly, let me start a petition that doesn't allow WD to retire!!!!!!!! You always seem to hit the nail on the head.

Posted by johnjenkins on Sun, 13/06/2010 - 21:40

 

Thanks for the vote of confidence, I dont intend to. [removed by mod - off topic]

So, in what could be my final contribution, let me say this - 

Whenever I see someone "demanding" registration, trying to lay claim to a description, and generally attempting to whip up hysteria in an attempt to kill off the opposition, my first thought is why? What are they afraid of?  Why would they care about other accountant's clients?    

When I then discover that its being done by an outfit that operates a franchise under the [removed by mod - unnecassary name-calling] name of CheapAccounting the answer is pretty obvious.  Franchising is only one step away from pyramid selling, and whatever they may claim to the contrary, the object of starting a franchise is to get rich on the efforts of others.

Of course this demand does pander to the bloated ego's of some accountants (we occasionally see them on here) who seem to suffer from the delusion that a few letters after your name makes you somehow better than everyone else.  Personally I dont subscribe to that idea at all. I see no difference  between myself with letters after my name denoting that I have the necessary knowledge to follow my career, and a bricklayer with a City & Guilds certificate denoting that he has the knowledge and skills to follow his.

Ask yourself this question - if there was a nuclear war tomorrow, in the aftermath who would be most useful - a bricklayer who could build you shelter to keep you warm, or an accountant who could work out how many bricks you would need?  I know which I would sooner have with me.

As for registration - what difference would it make?  Even restricting submission of accounts to qualified accountants only would make no difference.  Why?  Because there are incompetent, and crooked, qualified accountants. Indeed just as many qualified cowboys as unqualified cowboys, possibly even more, because they use their qualifications to deflect suspicion.

Like you I have been in the profession for getting on for 40 years, and the number of times I've been asked if Im qualified I could probably count on one hand. Indeed about half our staff are QBE's and as I've said before, they are as good if not better than some qualifieds I've encountered.

Personally I would lobby the powers that be against this latest attempt at protectionism, and indeed, feel inclined to suggest that franchises should also be banned in the profession as they are clearly geared towards maximum profit and therefore not towards the client's best interests.  I wonder how CheapAccounting would react to that ? Cheaply I guess :)

Thanks (0)
avatar
By chatman
14th Jun 2010 02:16

Welsh_Dragon Petition

I would sign it. Although W_D and I often disagree, I think his posts are often very good and I cannot actually see why anyone wants to remove him. I assume he had an argument online with a hypersensitive person.  There are some very offensive posts on AWeb that the censors do not seem to have a problem with, so to ban someone simply for having an argument seems hypocritical and would serve no good purpose.

By the way, in case I get in trouble for digressing, can I repeat my question about how protecting the term accountant differs from protecting the terms doctor and solicitor?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
14th Jun 2010 09:00

WD

[removed by mod - off topic]

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By User deleted
14th Jun 2010 10:13

Timing

I'm not sure that the timing of a post is any indicator of status. You certainly wouldn't catch me posting to an accountancy website at 1:13 in the morning (on any day of week, never mind a Monday) - but then again you wouldn't catch me posting at 7 minutes after midnight either.

As for reacting to alleged insults and abuse, of course one should have a right of reply. But to do so in such a manner that leads, as you fear, to a ban means that you can only blame yourself. I doubt whether pleas of "he/she started it" will hold much water with the moderators - though if the moderators are satisifed that someone has indeed set out to deliberately antagonise then appropriate action should be taken there too.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By johnjenkins
14th Jun 2010 10:22

Truth Hurts

[removed by mod - off topic]

Thanks (0)
By Becky Midgley
14th Jun 2010 11:31

There will be no poll on CD

And while I am at it, I'm going to lock this thread to allow me time to read ALL the comments.  I have a lot of catching up to do across this site today, so no more comments will be allowed on any contentious threads I find until I have time to check they all comply with the new rules.

And before anyone begins bleating about 'free speech', I would just like to assert that we are not here to provide a platform for people to be spiteful and vitriolic under the guise of 'free speech'.  Anyone who thinks that a privately run forum is a space for them to behave as they wish is sadly mistaken.

Thanks (0)
By Becky Midgley
14th Jun 2010 17:53

After moderation

I have had to heavily moderate this thread for a number of reasons.  I know this will not go down well with some of you, but it was necessary.

I have kept records of all the comments I have edited and/or deleted should anyone want to see them, but in the main comments have been deleted for being unsubstantiated, provocative and/or off topic (in line with new rules).

This discussion should not be about CheapAccounting - any issues you may have with this company should be taken up with them direct and NOT via AccountingWEB.  We will not allow our space to become a battlefield for personal grudges.

If you want to criticise the campaign then do so in a constructive and professional manner, do not resort to name-calling and unsubstantiated opinion please.

I have re-enabled comments on this thread for you to voice your opinion about the campaign but NOT about moderation please - if you wish to discuss this or complain then please get in touch with me privately.

Thanks (0)
Judi Castille senior partner of SP Consultancy LLP Kent, company formations and tax structures
By freelance32
11th Jul 2010 20:56

Qualified accountants - qualified to provide shoddy work under t

Here we go again and again.  Over the last year I have picked up 15 new clients from chartered accountants where the accounts are wrong - Balance sheet items on P&L, no deferred tax, no balance sheet at all, incorrect calculations of PCTCT,  corporate accounts drawn up as sole trader accounts!!  Its endless.  But I also get rubbish from so called book-keepers who do not know their debits from their #####.

The problem is I know excellent accountants and tax advisors who are not chartered, who never will be or cannot be, and they have highly paid jobs, a large client base and are extremely talented and professional/respected.  I myself work for blue-chip and have a private client base - but am not chartered.  I am an FMAAT and FIAB so I know my debits and credits and more, but I also act as a financial controller and management accountant after working over 20 years in industry - paper mills, recycling plants etc.  I am also studying ATT. 

The issue is chartered accountants are not held to task when they mess up and those without any qualifications - well we have no where to report about their bad efforts.

At the very least an AAT or IAB or ATT qualification should be in place.   AAT are really strict about CPD - many bodies including CIOT are not so pro-active.  At a recent seminar a couple of CIOT's said they only had to clock up hours, what they went on was irrelevant!!!  At AAT we have to ensure it is relevant and why so - or we loose our licences!!

And finally - if the word Accountant gets protected, then I am with the tax consultancts - no "accountant" should be able to get their hands on a tax return - ever.  Leave these to those that understand tax, and are qualified in it. 

Finally I run a transparent LLP [meaning easily found, checked, licenced] and subscribe to many tax sites and train on a regular basis in London at BPP/CCH and AVN.  Many "accountants" I meet do none of this and often dont even bother to see the clients either.  They live in a vacuum of out of date knowledge, cynical client attitude and spend all day moaning about work and planning for when can they retire.  If you cant stand the heat get out as they say. 

If I end up loosing my partnership because of the witch hunt tactics of those accountants who are probably loosing work to unqualified, then that will be a sad day for me and my other hard working colleagues.  For those book-keepers and accountants who have no qualifications at all - well thats something we may have to live with, but i think thats really down to the client.  And I am sorry to say you can spot these people from a mile away - all we can do is educate clients on what they should expect from their accountant - at at AVN theo ther day - a lot of those accountants just are'nt bringing the goods to the table.

Maybe the simplest way would be to trade you should be licenced by a professional body regardless of qualification - although I feel as said a basic qualification should be in place in all cases. CPD must be carried out and an annual review.  Spot checks should be made - not about compliancy or how you file your office papers, but about what you know - technical know how, understanding of topical issues, statutory filing information required in the accounts etc.

Sorry it was a long rant - but I worry that by removing one problem you will create another and the tax payer will be worse off for it in the long run.  And before anyone even thinks about mentioning this - dont use the HMRC's new rules for penalties as an excuse to say all tax computations have to be done by qualified practitioners - even HMRC do not agree with that - I should know - I had lunch with one today!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks (0)
Judi Castille senior partner of SP Consultancy LLP Kent, company formations and tax structures
By freelance32
11th Jul 2010 21:19

Cheap accountants franchise

Sorry I just have to say - creating franchised accounting offices - hate these - lets pay to get a licence because it looks like a good little earner, I dont have to work hard to set up my own business and I can leach off the concept someone else has set up - even if it may not be that brilliant.  That gives me the ability to slag off all those other sole practitioners who have accounting and tax through them like a stick of rock and have been doing accounts since they took that option back in high school!!!

Get off our backs will you and if you want to do some marketing for your "cheap accounting", do what I do - nothing - I get my clients through referals  and when I meet clients at their clients and we sit down and talk business and get my hands dirty.  When was the last time you walk a warehouse, merchandised with the client to help with costing out the project,  slogged in stores to find the stock problem, poored over architects drawings to work out the reduced VAT rate apportionment,  worked in production to cost out cutting rates,  drive 100 miles to the software developer to look at contracts for an R&D claim etc, etc.  no you probably just listed a set of receipts onto a software package and that makes you an accountant becuase your qualified. Woopy do!!!!!

I am just totally sick of it!! Well wait love ....heard the one about the management accountant who was also a qualified tax accountant who also knew a thing or to about engineering.  Who knew how to cost out a process plant but could then see what investment appraisal and asset renewals and R&D would do to the tax bill, and how the cost cutting savings needed to be balanced by robust tax planning and company restructuring.  Blah,blah,blah.

Welcome to my world - dirty accountancy, on the shop floor, with the client.  And hey guess what the other day - it was stated by a well know accountancy journalist - management accountants are a threat - becuase we interact with our clients better than err accountants.  Shame that!! 

Anyway must dash - its sunday - and funny, I was working today on tax credits - so i thing this just wraps it up for the day.

 

 

 

 

Thanks (0)