Ask an Accountant
This is the second part of our Ask an Accountant blog series, if you would like to see more posts in the series then check out our Ask an Accountant hub page.
The second part of our series is going to answer the question of What is a Chartered Accountant? And how they differ from other accountants.
What is a Chartered Accountant?
The answers you will read below are all from professional accountants in the UK.
A Chartered Accountant is a qualified accountant, as is a certified accountant.
Anyone can set themselves up in business and call themselves an accountant but they may have no formal qualification, professional idemnity insurance or way of keeping themselves up to date.
There are about 6 professional accountancy bodies, make sure you use an accountant who is a member of one of them.
Simon Young, Aysgarth Chartered Accountants
“Accountant” is not a legally protected term. This means that anyone can call themselves an accountant. However, only members of accountancy bodies that carry the Royal Charter (e.g. the ICAEW, ACCA,etc) can call themselves Chartered.
So what does this mean?
A Chartered Accountant will:
- have studied accounting and taxation and achieved an internationally recognised qualification;
- undergo Continuing Professional Development to ensure their knowledge is up to date;
- carry a Professional Indemnity insurance policy;
- be regulated by their professional body, who you can complain to if you’re not happy with how your affairs are handled.
James Hellyer, Accountancy Edge.
A Chartered Accountant will be registered with one of the main governing bodies (usually either ICAEW, ACCA or CIMA) which should give additional piece of mind as the governing bodies will require the Chartered Accountant to have insurance and to keep themselves fully up-to-date with the ever changing rules and regulations relating to accountancy and taxation.
An accountant does not have a governing body so does not have to do any of the above which can mean that the advice that they provide could be based on old rules.
Unfortunately anybody can set up in business and call themselves an accountant so it is important for the business owner to ask if the accountant they are looking to deal with is ‘Chartered’ or not as it is only this term that is legally protected.
Alan Woods, Woods Squared Ltd
Anyone can set up as an accountant.
Only a Chartered or Certified Accountant has demonstrated through examination, mentoring and appraisal that they have achieved the necessary knowledge, expertise, character and experience to be accepted as a member of an accountancy body with the Royal Charter.
Phil Lamerton, Crane & Johnston
An accountant is someone who works in Accountancy and who records and verifies financial transactions. With the proper training and obtaining the relevant qualifications and experience an Accountant can become Chartered and thereafter offer professional services for a relevant fee.
Les Hare, C I Accountancy Ltd
The terms bookkeeper and accountant are not protected terms in the UK. Strange as it may seem anyone can call themselves a bookkeeper or accountant. One way to ensure that your provider knows what they are talking about is to ensure they are properly qualified. The term Chartered Accountant does this for accountancy because it is a protected term. Not every qualified accountant is chartered, and so long as they are qualified it shouldn’t put you off that they are not chartered. Chartered Accountants tend to be qualified to a much higher level, and may not be what every business needs. They are the surgeons of the profession, and you wouldn’t go to a surgeon with a cold.
Kris McCulloch, K M Bookkeeping and Accountancy Services
The Institute of Chartered Accountants has specific entry requirements which are considered to be more rigorous than the other institutes. Most Chartered Accountants are trained through the audit route and can then have a huge range of options in terms of what they want to specialise in.
Claire Georghiades, Accounts Resource
A chartered accountant is one who has gone through years of training and have sat and passed exams and holds a practising licence. They also have to carry out a set number of CPD courses per year in order to maintain their membership to a professional body. Other accountants are usually qualified by experience and are not a member of a professional body so if something goes wrong there is no method for the client to submit a complaint, nor do they have to carry out continuous professional development.
Stephen Smith, B2B Financial Management Services Ltd
Chartered accountants are members of one of the main Accounting organisations within the UK, ICAEW, ACCA etc.
Some accountants are not chartered but still have passed their exams or qualified by relevant experience (ie worked in practice for 10 years).
The level of service should not differ between the two but do ask your accountant for references and experience of completing work you may ask them to do.
Richard Adams, Pure Accountants Ltd
Hopefully the responses above answer the question of What is a Chartered Accountant and how they differ from regular accountants, particularly giving you piece of mind should accounting mistakes be made. If you still have questions then feel free to ask away or contact one of the accountants/bookkeepers who took part in this blog post.
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