Why should I use a qualified accountant?

In the UK the term ‘accountant’ is not protected by law, therefore anyone can call themselves an accountant, regardless of their training, qualifications or experience.

By choosing a qualified accountant who is regulated by a professional body you can be confident that your accountant:

  • is bound by a Code of Ethics. Should anything go wrong a complaint can be made to their professional regulator who will investigate and take disciplinary action if necessary.
  • has completed years of training, professional exams and obtained relevant experience.
  • continues to keep up to date with their professional development, to ensure they maintain competence in areas of technical specialism and are fully aware of changes impacting the profession.
  • holds a practising certificate authorising them to provide the services advertised.
  • has an appropriate level of professional indemnity insurance, protecting clients should a complaint or litigation be brought against them.

By using an accountant who has not completed professional qualifications and/or is not regulated by a recognised accountancy body can pose an unnecessary risk to you and your business.

When choosing an accountant you should enquire as to the professional qualifications that they hold, what relevant experience they have and how long they have been working in the profession.

What qualifications should my accountant have?

There are numerous formal accounting qualifications. The two leading recognised accountancy bodies most relevant to providing accountancy and tax advice in public practice are:

  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

the world’s leading body for professional accountants with over 178,000 members.

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ACA) with over 144,000 members.

For completeness, other recognised accountancy bodies in the UK include:

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (CA)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
  • Association of International Accountants (AIAA or FAIA)
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (ACMA or FCMA) specialising in management accounting.

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How do I check what qualifications my accountant has?

A qualified accountant will have the letters of their regulating body following their name, such as ACCA/FCCA or ACA/FCA. This will usually be displayed on their letterheads, business cards and website.

To help verify your accountants qualifications, or to find a qualified accountant in your area, ACCA has a member directory here and ACA here