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What Is an Accountant?

Date: Oct 08, 2019

What Is an Accountant?

It’s an important decision…..

Choosing an accountant to work with is a difficult, but really important decision to make. There are so many accounting businesses out there – all different shapes, sizes, qualifications and experience!

What can they all do and how do you know it’s the right choice for you and your business? What do all the different letters in their firm’s name or after their own name mean and how do you know which is right? Most importantly, how do you know they are going to keep you safe and compliant with Companies House and HMRC?

Currently in the UK, the term “accountant” is not legally protected and so for someone to call themselves one doesn’t require a qualification. Unfortunately, this means that you need to be careful about choosing who you work with and therefore carrying out your research and asking the right questions is crucial!!

So many to choose from!

There are different levels and types of accounting qualification that dictate what the accounting business can do or cannot do. The best known and highest levels of professional qualification in the accounting industry are:

  • ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant) or FCA (Fellow Chartered Accountant) which are qualifications with the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales). A member becomes a “fellow” (the latter qualification) when they have completed 10 years’ worth of qualified membership and therefore experience
  • ACCA (Chartered Certified Accountant) or FCCA (Fellow Chartered Certified Accountant) which are qualifications with the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). Similarly to ICAEW, a member becomes a “fellow” (the latter qualification) when they have completed 5 years’ worth of qualified membership and therefore experience

Both those qualifications take up to three years of training and require the completion of up to 15 exams which include not just technical accounting as you would expect, but more rounded knowledge of ethics, professional values and business skills. So, you can be assured if you go with an accountant with either of those qualifications that they “know their stuff” and have also got the experience to back it!

There are also other qualifications in the industry that you might come across – we said it was a minefield!! All of these are professional qualifications in their own right, aimed at different levels of accounting and finance, and with different scope in terms of what can and can’t be done.

  • CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) – similar to the ACA and ACCA level of qualification but focussed more on accountants working in industry (i.e. working in a company as an accountant)
  • AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) – this qualification often leads on to obtaining either ACA or ACCA, but a member of the AAT can sign off small company accounts.
  • AATQB (AAT Associate Bookkeeping membership) – this is a bookkeeping qualification which enables the member to prepare accounts for sole traders, but not statutory accounts for limited companies
  • ATT (Association of Taxation Technicians) – a similar level qualification to AAT but focused more on taxation as it “says on the tin”!
  • IAB (International Association of Bookkeepers) and ICB (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers) – both professional bookkeeping qualifications that can complete accounts under an accounting standard called “FRS 105” which basically means accounts for limited companies in their simplest form

You need to be confident in your accountant…

To be clear, every one of us that has any of these professional qualifications has worked hard to achieve them and to each of us, the qualification is right for us. The thing that is important though, is that as a business owner finding an accountant to work with, the level of their qualification and experience has got to be right for you.

One piece of advice – always make sure you have an engagement letter in place with your bookkeeper or accountant. This document lays out the legal responsibilities between you and them and keeps you “safe”.

So - what about us?

So, who are Troy Accounting?!?!?!?!?!?

We’re a firm that belongs to the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales) and therefore on an annual basis we have a review and audit by the Institute to ensure we are complying with regulations and the code of ethics that we signed up to abide by.

We are absolutely genuine and passionate about everything we do for our clients, and it’s always to the best of our ability. The ICAEW gives us the credibility that people rely on, to ensure they receive appropriate and qualified accountancy advice. We’re also an approved trainer for future Chartered Accountants. But most of all …….

We love what we do