English ICA unveils quality review plan

The scheme aimed at small and medium-sized practitioners has been developed over the past year by an institute taskforce headed by Dennis Cox.

Cox, a council member, said: ‘The aim is to make quality synonymous with chartered accountants.’

Based on a business excellence model also used by the Cabinet office, the scheme will be tailored to meet the needs of the profession unlike existing ISO quality standards, explained Cox.

Firms that adopt the voluntary scheme will be required to enter their business characteristics such as the number of partners and offices into a specially designed software package in order to obtain institute accreditation.

Accredited firms will be able to sport a quality seal which has not yet be designed, but Cox said he envisaged it would be in the form of a watermark on paper.

Once a firm is accredited, the institute will carry out a visit to confirm the computerised quality review. A full revalidation will be carried out after three to five years, according to Cox’s draft plan.

Costs are expected to be no more than £500 for the software and between £2,000 and £5,000 for the entire quality process, he told council members at today’s meeting.

Around 30 firms will take part in the scheme trials soon to be launched.Cox said: ‘It will bring improved performance, marketing advantages and boost morale. This is not a boring tick box scheme.’

Although council members who commented on the plan welcomed it, many voiced concerns over costs, who would be regulating the software and its value to clients.

Gerry Acher, council member and senior partner at KPMG, said: ‘I welcome every move to improve standards. But, I’m terrified the quality mark could undervalue the chartered accountant brand. We must strengthen our brand. The Kite mark could water it down.’

The Scots ICA launched its quality review scheme at the beginning of this year. Grenville Johnston, Scots ICA president, said it had been well received by members and the public.

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