Awareness drive needed to promote qualified accountants

by Saffron Johnson

30 Jul 2010

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Accounting firm representatives have called for the government and industry bodies to do more to promote the industry ahead of unqualified rivals.

There are no restrictions on who can operate as an accountant and clients often don’t appreciate the difference between firms which choose to operate outside the main regulatory bodies and the undercut regulated firms with qualified staff on price, they warn.

The UK200 Group has expressed concern at what it believes are an increasing number of unqualified accountants offering substandard advice. It wants to encourage the accountancy profession to do more to promote itself, and highlight the benefits of properly-qualified professionals.

“The institutes – the ACCA and the ICAEW – need to do more to promote the brand so we have a situation whereby just as most people wouldn’t use a travel agent that wasn’t ABTA regulated, they wouldn’t use an accountant that is not regulated,” said Jonathan Russell, managing partner ReesRussell and vice-president of the Uk200 Group.

The group is also demanding government action to regulate or shut down unqualified operators.

“The burden of regulation on small accountancy firms is now such that some are seriously considering whether they want to be regulated,” Russell added.

Richard Trueman, managing director of Mitchells Accountants in Chesterfield, said: “There are certain things unqualified accountants can’t do, but, at first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much difference between a qualified and unqualified accountant.”

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