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speakers at FAB 2024
Joanne Birtwistle_FAB24

Five-year lead-in if mandatory membership decided

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If mandatory membership of a professional body – the lead option in the consultation on raising standards in the tax profession – comes to fruition, it will be transitioned over a five-year period, HMRC told the audience at FAB. 

14th Mar 2024
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“We recognise that becoming affiliated isn’t something that can happen overnight,” said Rob Jones, director of intermediaries at HMRC, speaking at another packed panel session at the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping at Birmingham’s NEC.

Reassuring the audience that there would be a transition period, he said: “We absolutely don’t want to water down or drive out from the market very competent, very professional, very dedicated tax practitioners. So we are thinking in terms of five years.”

Paul Aplin urged anyone who works in tax to read the consultation paper on enhancing tax practitioner standards and services, saying, “It is going to change your life.” Fellow panellist Rebecca Benneyworth was in agreement.

Three options on the table

The panel discussed the three options presented in the consultation paper, including mandatory membership of a professional body, a hybrid model and a new government regulator.

In the hybrid model, it is suggested that the professional bodies would police their own communities to maintain standards, with HMRC looking after those who are in the tax advice market, but who don’t belong to a professional body.

But Aplin immediately saw that approach as problematic. He said: “Would that put HMRC in a position of being judge and jury? Can HMRC actually police the tax system as a whole and one particular section of the community? That looks like a non-runner.”

The third option is an entirely new tax advice market regulator. 

“I’m not a huge fan of more and more regulation because I don’t think it necessarily produces better and better results. I think it can get in the way of producing better results,” said Aplin. 

Mandatory membership impact

With one-third of the accounting profession not currently a member of a professional body, mandatory membership would have a huge impact.

Aplin’s position is clear: “I think if anyone’s qualified by experience, they should be able to pass an exam to prove it.”

He added: “The one thing we can’t hide behind is the idea that all of the bad work is in one section of the market. It isn’t, and we all know that from experience. So this is an opportunity to face up to it and to try to raise standards for clients, which I think is what we’re all in business to do.”

But one member of the audience said that a compulsory licence scheme hits those advisers who are compliant “for the sake of HMRC’s unwillingness or inability to nail the people who are not doing the job honestly” and that it unfairly places the cost and the burden on the compliant, rather than HMRC targeting the non-compliant.

All up for discussion

Jones told the audience that while mandatory membership was the “lead option” the point of the 12-week consultation was to seek views and advice – as well as to look at other options that were not yet in the scope of the document.

“We have proposed a particular scope,” said Jones. “And we’ve been quite cautious, I think, in our immediate target. But if we are being too cautious, you come back and push us back. 

“Voices from outside that understand how the system works and how it impacts on practitioners and on our customers, that is really important to us. 

“If one of the main targets of what we’re trying to do is reducing harm caused within the tax practitioner market, then tell us what that is and if the scope is wrong. It’s not set in stone in the consultation. Part of the point of the consultation is to test it.”

Benneyworth impressed on the audience the importance of engaging with the consultation, either through their professional body or directly.

“I think this is really grasping the nettle. And I think it’s absolutely essential.”

She added: “It is essential that you not only engage but give it a bit of time. Really think about it, think about how this is all going to affect you and your clients and other taxpayers.”

Replies (56)

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the sea otter
By memyself-eye
14th Mar 2024 18:11

When I was 'affiliated' to a professional body (AAT) I found that they were more interested in 'fees' and 'compliance - ie. box ticking' than my business. They were fixated on fixed costs versus variable cost calculations more attuned to factory production (remember those?) which had no relevance to my practice.
I quit and saved my fees. They said 'don't quote our qualification in your marketing'
I never have. No one ever asked me. Best thing I ever did....
I 'advise' my son on his business. Unpaid. (he owes me big-time)
When I say advise, I won't say I prepare his VAT returns, payroll and CT submissions - perish the thought. That's illegal somewhere.
I might receive a knock on the door and be hauled off to HMRC gulag on sea
How will mandation change that?

It won't. More advisors will just operate under the radar - it's called.... err.... self assessment for a reason - you can submit yourself

Cue the end of 'agents' as we know them.

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Replying to memyself-eye:
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By jon_1984
15th Mar 2024 11:17

Funnily enough I gave up my AAT because there was absolutely nothing in the local CPD program that was relevant to my work in industry. It all seemed to be aimed at those in practice doing the accounts for BTL landlords and small contractors with just the occasional 2 yearly excel course advertised.

It was the resounding silence over changes to VAT etc around Brexit that was the final nail in the coffin. Everything useful, relevant and timely we had came out of the freight industry running workshops for clients, rather than the accounting professional bodies we had represented in the company.

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By AdamJones82
14th Mar 2024 20:23

That's fine, I'll be close to retirement then.
They should be clamping down on those companies claiming erroneous expense claims and refunds rather than hardworking legit practitioners.

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By GHarr497688
14th Mar 2024 22:09

They want Accountants to be Financial Police so HMRC can be disbanded. Effectively saving tax and outsourcing the tax system to private individuals. Every single thing that comes along proves this beyond doubt.

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By cbp99
15th Mar 2024 09:04

Re “I think if anyone’s qualified by experience, they should be able to pass an exam to prove it.”

Similarly, should any currently qualified practitioner be required to pass an exam to prove they remain competent?

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Replying to cbp99:
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By Postingcomments
15th Mar 2024 09:26

Qualified practioners have their work, AML and CPD records inspected every so often.

It's not perfect, but it is more oversight than non-quals have.

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Replying to Postingcomments:
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By cbp99
15th Mar 2024 09:39

AML and CPD records may be inspected, but quality of work? Other than when a client complains to the professional body.

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Replying to cbp99:
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By Postingcomments
15th Mar 2024 11:14

My body looked at some files when they visited, with a particular focus on accounts and disclosures and seeing if the file shows that some basic diligence and care has been put into it.

The inspection didn't extend to tax advice (as I doubt they have the ability to assess it) but they had a leaf through some files to see if they looked like some care and thought had been put into them.

It's not all singing or anything, but it's not nothing.
As you say, there is also a complaint mechanism and people do get disciplined. That is lacking with non-quals. Plus you have to have insurance.

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Replying to Postingcomments:
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By cbp99
17th Mar 2024 13:20

Thanks for the clarification of the inspection in your case.

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Replying to Postingcomments:
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By GHarr497688
15th Mar 2024 12:35

I disagree I had an AML visit from Hmrc with a 99% pass rate . I am regulated by Hmrc receiving multiple filings that are checked by algorithms etc . Why would a client stay with an Accountant that is incompetent . Look on Companies House website at incorrect filings signed by chartered accountants. I could say a lot more about my reasoning.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
15th Mar 2024 09:17

Whilst in theory the "exam entry" idea is sound (and indeed ongoing too) the issue is "exam in what?"

Given the range of specialisms, I could quite easily fail an exam if it concentrated on areas I dont deal with, such as CIS or Audit, or group tax issues, and pass with flying colours if it was on areas I deal with on a daily basis. So it would be very hard to design an exam that essentially good practioners can pass, and the cowboys cant.

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By AdamJones82
15th Mar 2024 09:18

“I think if anyone’s qualified by experience, they should be able to pass an exam to prove it.”
That’s not the problem. The problem is getting someone to sign off your experience which is mandatory to get actual membership. Why would you want a possible competitor to view your information and more to the point what’s in it for them to help a QBE? Nothing

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By Tarin Smillie
15th Mar 2024 10:02

I hate the idea of professional bodies overseeing everyone, they already have too much say when they don’t offer any help other than ‘it’s all on our website!’. Their fees are unnecessary, all they seem to care about is earning money, not helping, and you get no interaction for the fee you pay, it’s all a ‘find the answer yourself!’ Well if you don’t know what you are looking for how is that even possible! I would rather pay a fee to HMRC to regulate us. If you want a license, I think a vetting process should be completed in person to make sure everything you have to adhere to is in place, my governing body has never done this, and has now imposed a hefty fine and wants to publicly humiliate me amongst my professional body! I have told them I no longer want part of their body, they should be helping not imposing hefty fines! There is no appeal process as I found out when I said that at least 2 of the points I was being fined for were not even facts, they didn't even look into it, its their way or no way basically! I am talking about the AAT! I would never want to be part of this body again after this experience, there is more to this but it’s very long winded!

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By Ben Alligin
15th Mar 2024 10:14

So what professional qualifications/bodies are all HMRC employees going to be forced to join and demonstrate competency in? That might be a better place to start.

Equality in arms?!

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Replying to Ben Alligin:
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By Tom 7000
15th Mar 2024 12:04

CTA

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Replying to Tom 7000:
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By Ben Alligin
15th Mar 2024 12:38

That would be hysterical if it came to pass!

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By listerramjet
15th Mar 2024 10:57

Some of us have been banging on for some considerable time about the importance of requiring that the term accountant be reserved to those qualified and regulated, as is common in other professions where competence is relevant. This would thus seem to be a move in the right direction, provided it is not used to favour legal types over tax practitioners! But I do object to it being led by HMRC. What happened to democracy in our Country?

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Replying to listerramjet:
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By BusyBees
19th Mar 2024 10:10

I don't agree!! Other professionals, i.e. Solicitors and Doctors actually do not need to pass any further exams to join their professional bodies. Solicitors need to do 2 yrs in a law firm to gain the ability to call themselves Solicitors. Doctors need to undertake practical experience in GP surgeries and hospitals to become qualified. Unlike Accountants who need to undertake a further 6 exams even after exemption based on CIMA, ACCA isn't much better. I'm part qualified via CIMA, l have a Degree in Accounting and have over 6yrs experience, but according to you I can't call myself an Accountant, how discriminatory of you!

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By jon_griffey
15th Mar 2024 10:58

This is so easy to solve with very little cost and disruption.

1. Grandfather all existing unqualifieds into a new body. Maybe a new subsidiary of one of the existing ones. No need to take exams, but requirements for CPD, PI etc.
2. Then from that day all new practitioners must belong to one of the existing bodies.

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Replying to jon_griffey:
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By Tom+Cross
15th Mar 2024 11:28

That sounds like a very sensible suggestion. And because it sounds sensible, it won't see the light of day. That's what consultations are, from my experience. Much discusssion and debate, and no real outcome
However, I repeat, the suggestion is sound.

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Replying to jon_griffey:
By Nick Graves
15th Mar 2024 11:54

jon_griffey wrote:

This is so easy to solve with very little cost and disruption.

1. Grandfather all existing unqualifieds into a new body. Maybe a new subsidiary of one of the existing ones. No need to take exams, but requirements for CPD, PI etc.
2. Then from that day all new practitioners must belong to one of the existing bodies.

I was grandfathered into the CPAA many years ago and I've found its current CPE program really useful. When I joined, the program was downright embarrassing, but it's come on leaps & bounds since.

Given the amount of esoteric bureaucrap that's thrown at us these days (we really are in the late stages of the Roman Empire) I'd not want to do without it, TBH.

There was a time when I used to be able to keep up with changes pretty well on my own, but that was in a previous century.

So it is indeed possible to do.

Of course, a few front-room accountants will disappear and 'help' people for beer or BTC - who could blame them quite frankly, if there is a market for it? Going Galt looks increasingly attractive these days...

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Replying to Nick Graves:
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By PAULLEWISFCCA
15th Mar 2024 13:48

Nick Graves wrote:

jon_griffey wrote:

Of course, a few front-room accountants will disappear and 'help' people for beer or BTC - who could blame them quite frankly, if there is a market for it? Going Galt looks increasingly attractive these days...


Opting out of everything from government was very appealing 20 plus years ago. Its now getting close to being a necessity to ensure survival.
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Replying to jon_griffey:
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By johnjenkins
15th Mar 2024 12:16

Don't we have that already with CE. They check to see if you are a proper and fitting person to carry out your functions. As someone said it will not stop someone doing it with your own SA.

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Replying to jon_griffey:
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By MW24
15th Mar 2024 12:43

Very reasonable suggestion. Not sure if its been shared yet but you can email HMRC with thoughts and opinions :-
If you would like to be involved or contribute written views, please contact HMRC at [email protected].

HMRC welcomes comments by 29 May 2024.

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By Metaller76
15th Mar 2024 11:35

The word 'exam' is not mentioned once in the consultation paper.
So Paul Aplin may wish this upon QBEs, who (like me) have worked for many years in the industry, keeping up to date with laws & regs, without issue, but exams are not mentioned as part of HMRC's plans.

I get the need for a supervising body but as usual the goalposts are being moved by those who have little empathy for QBEs that set-out on a career as per rules at the time and are now feeling pretty anxious about the future through no fault of their own.

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By billgilcom
15th Mar 2024 11:57

Aplin’s position is clear: “I think if anyone’s qualified by experience, they should be able to pass an exam to prove it.” When is the last time he sat an exam?
Having been a fully trained ex-HMRC tax inspector I passed tax and accounting exams that qualified me and enabled me to not only deal with individuals, partnerships trusts and companies but also household name large groups ( with both UK and international parents and subsidiaries).
If he thinks that after doing over 41 years in HMRC followed by almost 18 years defending clients who had problems with HMRC I am going to sit an exam to become a member of a club that only wants my extra fees he ( and his fellow schemers) have another think coming.
Having come out the other end of serious illness ( and “cancer free” for as long as the scans give that positive outcome) I am game for a challenge.
No doubt HMRC will read this and they can mark my card for being non-compliant if they choose the compulsory registration with new fees and potential exams.
They intend to restrict my business activities and right to enjoy my life peacefully without any fraud or deliberate behaviour on my part. I already have PPI and pay my AML fee and I am not going to lay out more unnecessary fees to make up for their inability to police the fraudsters as they should with all the legislation they sought and obtained to help them get results.

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By SteveHa
15th Mar 2024 12:02

Apparently my more than 40 years in tax (20 in HMRC itself) wouldn't be enough.

I've just drafted a response to an HMRC letter for a colleague, quoting legislation calling into question the very premise of their letter. I can guarantee that the issuing officer will not be able to reply, and will have to pass it up the chain to someone suitably qualified.

Tell me again what right HMRC have to determine who is competent. They clearly aren't.

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By Tom 7000
15th Mar 2024 12:11

If aat was a quoted plc ... I would be buying a huge chunk of it about now... as everyone scrambles for membership.

Issue is if you are already practicing as a non member, are you allowed to practice as a student? You can't in aca and acca.. so there's no routes to entry here especially as you need experience signed off by a training partner too.

Oh dear... what's the solution... lots if tiny mergers?

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Replying to Tom 7000:
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By Rob Swan
17th Mar 2024 13:11

Net result: more (independent) people leaving the profession, larger firms taking over, standards falling.

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By johnjenkins
15th Mar 2024 12:24

Why is it that every time HMRC come up with some new fangled "upgrade" to what is now an out of control cosmic regulation system, our bodies just put up with it and take it on board as if it were the right thing to do.
HMRC have no credibility and have become a dictatorship.
I hate to say this but I feel our profession is going down the pan, which in my view will make matters worse, not only for HMRC but for UK economy.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
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By Rob Swan
17th Mar 2024 14:51

Most here would, I think, agree that many in HMRC generally have no idea what they're doing; indeed Craig Ogilvie admitted as much at FAB, (See teh AW article "HMRC to kick off MTD ITSA testing on 22 April").
My hypothesis is that because they (HMRC) have no idea what they're doing, they can't possibly imagint anyone else does, and hence the need for professional body oversight - AKA box-ticking.
Back in thde day, when most accountants knew their local tax inspector personally, and everyone knew everyone else knew what they were doing, the idea would have been ridiculed by all.
More recently, HMRC appears to have retreated entirely from personal contact with professionals, (ie, up its own.... ), and the esult is inevitable.

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Replying to Rob Swan:
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By johnjenkins
18th Mar 2024 09:01

One of the main reasons, if not the main reason, for HMRC not wanting to engage is the fact they know that we know a lot more than they do. The once competent staff is no longer there, still I'm sure AI will take care of everything.

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By Paul Morton
15th Mar 2024 12:36

“I think if anyone’s qualified by experience, they should be able to pass an exam to prove it.” I understand why Paul would say this and I agree to an extent. However, a lot of us only do what we're capable of and comfortable with, and turn the other work away. I don't undertake anything that I'm not trained in such as IHT. I have a friend of mine who just does basic ITSA returns, mainly for subcontractors. He doesn't take on CT, CGT or IHT because he's not trained to do it. Any exam for those QBE's would therefore need to be tailored to what they undertake in their day to day work. If this isn't done it will drive many competent tax advisors out of business.

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By adam.arca
15th Mar 2024 13:03

Completely agree with Jon Griffey's solution:

"This is so easy to solve with very little cost and disruption.

1. Grandfather all existing unqualifieds into a new body. Maybe a new subsidiary of one of the existing ones. No need to take exams, but requirements for CPD, PI etc.
2. Then from that day all new practitioners must belong to one of the existing bodies."

That's what happened with auditors in 1947 or whenever, isn't it, and that seemed to work. In fact, it seems to me not only the obvious but also the only obviously workable solution.

Plus, and with all due respect to the very many excellent non qualifieds who contribute on this site, I didn't work my [***] off passing exams and keeping my nose clean to earn a qualification just so others who hadn't done that for whatever reason could be grandfathered into my PB. That would be a bit like taking a Conference club, Aldershot Town for the sake of example, and parachuting them into the Premier League because "it's all football, isn't it." Absolutely no disrespect intended to non quals or Aldershot but that just isn't getting my vote, no way.

And which brings us onto the topic of exams. Be careful what you wish for because, if non quals were to be required to pass an exam, then it's a very short step to also saying qualifieds should too. There may be an arguable case in the opinion of outsiders that advisers validate their knowledge every so often but exams are a blunt instrument as IRSK has pointed out above, not least because, as we get older, we become less capable of passing exams written by people not of our generation who are coming at things from a different angle from the one we were taught within. Passing such an exam tells us nothing about the skills needed by a good adviser (of which technical knowledge is just one).

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Replying to adam.arca:
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By spilly
15th Mar 2024 14:23

I took my accountancy exams years ago but am no longer a member of a professional body, and I know there are many others in a similar situation. So it’s not only QBEs that will be affected by this.
As long as you have PI, AML, and do CPD, then surely that should be sufficient.

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Replying to spilly:
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By adam.arca
15th Mar 2024 18:34

spilly wrote:

I took my accountancy exams years ago but am no longer a member of a professional body, and I know there are many others in a similar situation. So it’s not only QBEs that will be affected by this.
As long as you have PI, AML, and do CPD, then surely that should be sufficient.

Indeed, those were the points I was making (sorry, can’t tell if you’re agreeing with me or disagreeing because you don’t think I was making those points). The only thing I would add to your list is that I do like the idea of some new body to corral the QBEs the same way that the qualifieds are.

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Replying to adam.arca:
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By spilly
17th Mar 2024 14:04

I was trying to make the point that there are those of us who did ‘work their backsides off’ to pass exams, but are now no longer members of a PB for whatever reason.
I am concerned that a new body may be viewed as being a bit second-rate, but if it enables continuity to work for people without a PB, then it’s a better solution than enforced exams.

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Replying to spilly:
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By colinstewart
16th Mar 2024 09:04

So, who monitors the statement that you have made that you have these documents? who turns up on YOUR doorstep and inspects your CPD records and your client files? And you ain't up to date anyway because if you were you would have included 5 yearly DBS checking! (BOOMs Regs).
So go on lets see what you have: Post your PII certificate, your Firm Wide AML Risk Assessment, your CPD records, and your DBS Certificate on this blog, and then we can talk about how you propose you show that you comply with the professional code of conduct - you can pick any IFAC body as they all same much the same thing. After that we can talk about sanctions for failure to comply if that arises, because when that happens to someone with a Practicing Certificate and they pass before my Disciplinary Committee (which includes lay members) they stand the risk that they will have their Certificate withdrawn and possibly excluded from membership. And then we may well fine them and issue and order for costs. However, at least these people have joined the club!

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Replying to colinstewart:
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By spilly
17th Mar 2024 14:19

I was in the ‘club’ as you put it, right up until this year. Years of paying subscriptions to a PB that seemed only to view us as a cash-cow, never had any inspection from them apart from two requests to see our PI certificate, and one to check my verifiable CPD hours, all done online.
As a student I looked forward to becoming a full member, but the support and benefits seemed to fall away each year, and now I am too disillusioned to continue with it.

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Replying to adam.arca:
By SteveHa
15th Mar 2024 14:55

adam.arca wrote:

Plus, and with all due respect to the very many excellent non qualifieds who contribute on this site, I didn't work my [***] off passing exams and keeping my nose clean to earn a qualification just so others who hadn't done that for whatever reason could be grandfathered into my PB.

Are you suggesting that I haven't worked my [***] off to get the experience that I have?

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By adam.arca
15th Mar 2024 18:35

SteveHa wrote:

adam.arca wrote:

Plus, and with all due respect to the very many excellent non qualifieds who contribute on this site, I didn't work my [***] off passing exams and keeping my nose clean to earn a qualification just so others who hadn't done that for whatever reason could be grandfathered into my PB.

Are you suggesting that I haven't worked my [***] off to get the experience that I have?

No, that wasn’t the point I was making. Don’t be so defensive.

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By colinstewart
15th Mar 2024 13:28

As usual AW commentators have highlighted the issues!
So, my angle is that for the last 20 years or so I have been involved in the investigation and disciplinary process of two of the professional bodies, and currently sit on a Disciplinary Committee.
Some years ago I sat on the AAT Council, but I left them because of their 'second tier' attitude.
Next year I will have been paying professional body subscriptions for 50 years.
So here are some random thoughts, in no particular order:
Generally, I think the Professional bodies are not in touch with the real world that practitioners work in. But, is that their job, or are they a QA system?
I would say that the Professional bodies have done a lousy job in acting as our trade union, especially given the massive mental health issues that many of us faced through and after Covid.
I would say that good clients want to see the certificate on the wall and some kind of recommendation, albeit when you have been around as long as I have, the recommendation is enough.
I would say that HMRC needs to look at itself before talking about standards.
I would say that you ain't going to stop the 'Pub accountant'.
I would say that if people want to take advice of any sort for nothing then it is a free country (I had to think carefully before I wrote that because I am mot so sure).
I would say that all of the AML legislation has not made any improvement of the policing of clients by accountants over the last 50 years.
I would say that I have enjoyed my career and I believe done a lot of good for others who have benefitted from my advice.
I think I have done a good job because I have experience in practice, industry and the military.
I cannot say that profession does a better job now than it did 50 years ago.
Most importantly though: I have been involved in the disciplinary side of things because the vast majority of us work hard for our clients and do a remarkable job in coping with everything that gets thrown at us. Those that do not achieve those standards should not benefit from recognition, but that does not stop them being the pub accountant, and nothing in the proposals will prevent that.
Sorry, quite a long one that, but I feel entitled due to seniority :), and now lunch! Mushroom soup apparently!

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Replying to colinstewart:
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By johnjenkins
18th Mar 2024 09:13

You're quite right. All the rubbish thrown at us over the years by Government and HMRC have not achieved their purpose except SA. This clampdown on business, especially SME's has cost the economy dearly, that is why we are in stagnation (not recession) mode and will only get worse. So let's get Reform in power (Labour won't do anything different than the Tories) and get the UK moving again.

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By eamonng
15th Mar 2024 13:29

I think Ben Alligin and Tom 7000 (further back up this thread), make a very significant point - is Chartered Tax Advisor going to be held up as the only acceptable qualification because it is in fairness 100% about taxation.
Most on here (like me), only have their accountancy qualification - that may not be considered sufficient in future.
I packed in practice on 29 Feb 2024 and stuff like this is why.

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By Mr J Andrews
15th Mar 2024 14:19

All those so called ''non-affiliated'' should safely think about a graceful hassle free retirement period of 15 to 20 years. If Rob Jones of HMRC is advising a five year transition period , you can bet your bottom dollar his MTD mates will have suggested a timescale re-think.
And what the hell is this role - ''director of intermediaries''. Another job for the boys ? What is Jones the middleman of ? I don't remember appointing Jones to this role.

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By tristar64
15th Mar 2024 15:54

With regards to the mandatory professional body affiliation.

Now 55 years old, I have worked in the Accountancy profession since leaving secondary school and was trained by a Chartered Accountant and worked for a few Chartered Accountant practices from Junior staff level to Senior Manager.

My expertise is small micro companies. I have completed my work on the basis of keeping my clients records in good order, giving them advice to ensure their business has a solid financial footing and making sure the correct tax is paid and on time.

I never take on work beyond my knowledge and in 26 years of having my own clients with possibly 20 HMRC enquiries over that time, only once was a small assessment raised due to a clients failure to declare a small amount of income to both me and HMRC.

My point being that my work is completed diligently and neither my clients or I fret over an HMRC visit because everything is in order. In fact on several occasions HMRC have praised the detail and accuracy of the records.

My fees are reasonable and make good Accountancy and tax advice available to small and micro businesses that would otherwise be unaffordable to them and at no time have I ever thought it would be acceptable to have a clients tax refund paid to me.

Without Accountancy, tax and agent providers such as myself there is a vast number of clients who would "have a go" at doing this themselves. In these current times that leads them to turn to online software companies promising to streamline their book keeping and have it done in a flash. My experience of the four clients I have taken on who had gone down that path of online simplified software book keeping was one of disbelief. It all balances, of course it does, but wholly incorrect with the wrong tax paid, claims against income for significant amounts of non business expenses, vat claimed where it shouldn't have been, etc, etc.

So it maybe correct that standards in Accountancy and Tax need to be increased, as should standards in all parts of life be improved but unless all current agents tow the line and become qualified which I doubt and I won't (what difference would it make to the work I do anyway) then what will occur is that clients will in vast swathes will start doing their own to avoid huge hikes in their accountancy fees. In addition with one third of the agents not being affiliated with a professional body and the shortages in Accountants already where are all the staff coming from to do the work.

This means more clients will become dis-functional in their tax affairs, behind with their tax liabilities and it may even be a barrier to new startups.

I for one having practised what I preached, saved where I could and I am financially aware after years of working with numbers will not be forced to take exams at 55 years old at a cost of many thousands let alone the time I do not have and will join the economically inactive. For me it may be an easy way to tell my clients who rely on me that I can no longer help them.

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Replying to tristar64:
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By johnjenkins
15th Mar 2024 16:19

You, I and many others are in the same boat. There can be no doubt that HMRC and Government are out to destroy the small business. Regulate and market us out of business.
The only standards that need to be increased is that of HMRC. Perhaps they are trying to hide their own inadequacies by regulating us by far and beyond.

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the sea otter
By memyself-eye
15th Mar 2024 18:27

I'm fleeing on my narrowboat - they won't catch me there!

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Replying to memyself-eye:
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By Rob Swan
17th Mar 2024 13:07

Only so long as you've ticked the right box!! :D

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By Rob Swan
17th Mar 2024 13:06

Just echoing what others have said: Pointless.
Box-tickers and fee-collectors, ticking boxes for the ultimate box-ticker - HMRC.
You either know what youj're doing or you don't. In my personal experience bookkeepers are generally very good at doing what they do and accountnats span the entire spectrum, from down right dangerous to absolutely outstanding. Professional affiliation doesn't change a thing.
Some idiot in HMRC has clearly 'thought this one through' - in ignorance and isolation.

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