Accountants need to close the credibility gap

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Nick Huber
Freelance journalist
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Accountants will continue to lose credibility if they don’t educate the public about the value of their work and rebuild trust in its profession, according to new ACCA research.

Although three-quarters of accountants questioned believed that the general public considered them to be trustworthy, only 55% of the public agreed, in a survey of more than 250 accountants, 1,500 consumers and “key opinion leaders” worldwide.

This is in part due to a lack of understanding of the role that accountants play in driving the success of businesses of all sizes, the report explained.

The study put forward five recommendations for how the accountancy profession can be more trusted by the public:

  • Engage in discussion with stakeholders and the public at large about what it means to be...

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08th Sep 2012 09:40


At last ! An official report backing up what I've been saying for years.

However, it misses out one vital point; clients also don't trust accountants because they often believe that they put the interest of HMRC before their own. Some certainly see themselves as high tax vigilantes - as frequently demonstrated by the comments on Any Answers. But in the majority of cases, too many accountants have a " jobsworth" approach to their work, resulting, unintentionally,in a high tax bill for clients. The more money clients pay in tax, the less there is to invest in their business. Ironically, over the longer term, this results in less more being paid to HMRC through stunted growth.

Accountants have got to become more accountable to their clients. Luckily, there are now quite a few - and growing - very, very good accountants in the profession who understand this. They're worth every penny of their fees. But this highly valuable, elite band is far out weighed by rank after serried rank of dull duffers, who plod along, wrapped in officialdom, doing more harm than good.

Have a look around your office. You know who they are.     

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10th Sep 2012 09:41

Thats funny Mike....I never

seem to see a response to 'any answers' from you suggesting how to reduce tax given a particular scenario....don't you know any?

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By taxguru
10th Sep 2012 17:12

You don't need to spend on a

You don't need to spend on a research to confirm something very obvious, given that majority out there are unqualified!!

May be the qualfied ones could come together under the 'chartered' banner to differentiate themselves from the rest, possibly using the CCAB umbrella!!




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10th Sep 2012 19:40

taxguru I fail to see the relevence of your point. Are you implying that all the qualified accountants are trustworthy, and all the unqualified ones are crooks?  The funny thing is I can remember seeing many newspaper reports of qualified accountants being prosecuted for offenses, but very few reports of unqualified ones being prosecuted.


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By taxguru
to Ruddles
10th Sep 2012 21:56


Midlands Accountancy wrote:
 Are you implying that all the qualified accountants are trustworthy, and all the unqualified ones are crooks?  

No, I don't mean that at all. Indeed there are good unqualified accountants. But the fact is that if 'anybody' can be an 'accountant' how would you fill the credibility gap?


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10th Sep 2012 20:16

@midlands would agree...
Indeed assuming that the Acca questioned only Acca accountants it appears 25% believed that the general public perceived that they were not trustworthy....perhaps says more about their own members than the general accounting population....

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11th Sep 2012 09:32

guess the missing words round

below doctors architects above bankers journalist and lawyers , spot on i would say

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11th Sep 2012 10:12

I think you will find anyone can become a chartered accountant, pass a few exams and hey presto - passing exams doesn't test for unethical/untrustworthy people, it just tests whether they understand the rules they 'should' practice by. (not saying it isn't worth doing....but doesn't in itself address the question of how trustworthy someone is)

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11th Sep 2012 14:15

Try looking at who accountants have to deal with.


Bankers - hardly the most trusted profession.

HMRC - Does anyone actually trust them to ever get anything right?

Clients - Let's be honest, most of them are fiddling their tax one way or another.



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12th Sep 2012 07:36

I would suggest

That clients will trust an accountant whom by reputation, is straight talking, robust with HMRC, firm with clients and not a sycophant.

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16th Sep 2012 12:26

Change the pricing model

If Value Pricing was adopted more widely then I am sure the necessary change would occur. Until then the profession will continue to decline in relevance along with fees and margins.

Bob Harper

Crunchers | Alternative Accountants

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17th Sep 2012 10:57

not sure that

the pricing structure is quite as closely linked to credibility as you would like to think.  I thought bankers were paid on a performance related pay basis - that worked well.....

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