How do you know if an accountancy firm has the necessarily qualifications to professionally look after your company’s tax affairs?
If you entrust hundreds of pounds of your hard earned contract income to an accountancy firm each year, the least you can expect is that the firm is properly regulated and staffed by qualified experts.
Although simply possessing the right qualifications doesn’t always guarantee that an accountant will provide a good service, it is an essential prerequisite any prospective accountant must possess before you consider signing up.
In order to become an accountant, an individual has to have had a certain amount of industry experience, and have passed a series of testing exams. Qualified individuals will also be live up to the ethical and professional standards demanded by their representative bodies. They will also have to carry professional indemnity insurance as standard.
Recognised Accountancy Bodies in the UK & Ireland
There are a number of recognised accountancy bodies in the UK and Ireland:
ICAEW – The Institute of Chartered Accountants
ICAS – Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
CAI – Chartered Accountants Ireland
ACCA – The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
Most specialist contractor accountancy firms will have staff qualified via these bodies, and other such as the ICB (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers) and AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians).
Your accounts manager may well be a trainee accountant, or administrative assistant, which means that certain advice or tasks can only be carried out my qualified members of staff.
IPSE Accredited Accountants
The contractors’ representative organisation, IPSE, has set up a scheme to ensure that member accountants pass a number of quality checks, and can become ‘IPSE Accredited Accountants’. Members must meet strict entry criteria, prove competence in essential areas such as IR35 and Section 660, and meet customer services levels. You can find out more here.