PracticeConsultingMove to round up cowboy accountants

Move to round up cowboy accountants

A band of Scottish small firms is planning to lobby Westminster MPs in the hope of getting the word 'accountancy' recognised as a legal term with restricted use.

The seven firms in Montrose are to begin the action as a result of deepening concern about the growth in unqualified accountants in their area.

They want to see the term accountancy restricted to only those professionals qualified with the six main British accountancy bodies.

Concern, they say, has grown because the public has no way of telling if anyone who calls themselves an accountant is properly qualified.

Grant Walker, partner at Harris Walker in Montrose, said: ‘We are trying to get it across to clients that you have to be talking to people qualified with the recognised bodies.’

Partners at the Montrose firms come from ICAS, ICAEW and ACCA, and there is consternation that there has so far been little support from the partners’ professional bodies.

A spokesman from ACCA said the body thought new legislation was unlikely. ‘We believe there is little chance of getting a restriction of competition accepted in the current political climate,’ he said.

‘The Department of Trade and Industry has already said that registration could not be an option because it would be difficult to define the term.’

Andrew Christie, president of ICAS, expressed sympathy but said he too believed legislation would be difficult. ‘My main concern is that, as a profession, we use so many descriptions for ourselves it would be very difficult to legislate to restrict effectively their use.’

The Montrose accountants have already met with members of the Scottish parliament but will concentrate their efforts on lobbying Westminster when the House of Commons returns after the summer break.

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