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FDs sympathise with the unqualified

We asked FDs: Should the Inland Revenue campaign against the use of unqualified accountants?

Finance directors have expressed sympathy for the plight of unqualified accountants, who could be targeted if the Inland Revenue goes ahead with a campaign to highlight the advantages of professionally qualified advisers over those with no qualification.

The latest Accountancy Age/Reed Accountancy Big Question survey found that half of finance directors are against the Revenue’s plans to campaign against accountants without professional qualifications.

‘I can think of many unqualified accountants who are more expert than me in some areas and to insist on “qualified” would be blindly erroneous,’ said George Sutherland, finance director at the University of Edinburgh.

ICAEW chief executive Eric Anstee last week said that he hoped the institute would work closely with government agencies to ‘raise public awareness of the benefits of using professional firms’.

However, the experience that an accountant has built up is more important than qualifications, according to many finance directors. ‘There are a lot of competent senior finance professionals who are qualified by experience.

There are also a lot of incompetent qualified professionals,’ said one anonymous FD.

Paul Tonks of Hill McGlynn said that the recent track record of accountants made it ‘hard to justify’ a campaign against the unqualified.

Despite the strong reaction against the planned campaign, many FDs said that it was a good idea, with 30% of respondents were in favour.

An anonymous respondent said: ‘As a qualified accountant, the service taxpayers receive will be better.’

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