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Post Info TOPIC: The qualified vs non qualified debate


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The qualified vs non qualified debate


In a further continuation to mine and Shamus' thread on IFA, AIA, ACCA etc. I thought I would gauge what others opinions were in general on the definitions of a qualified accountant.

From my own experience I think I may be in somwhat of a 'I am qualified' bubble. My understanding was the CCAB bodies were deemed as qualified.

  • ICAEW
  • ACCA
  • CIMA
  • CIPFA
  • ICAS
  • ICAI

There are a raft of other bodies around, including

  • IFA
  • AAT
  • AIA

You also then have the fact that someone can trade as an accountant without a single qualification at all.

From personal experience I get frustrated when I hear an AAT member call themselves an accountant. I did AAT to become an Accounting Technician and then ACCA to become a Chartered Certified Accountant.

I have always been of the opinion that qualified accountants are better than non qualifieds for a number of reasons, including, practical experience, exam qualifications, CPD requirement and general regulation. I appreciate that there are of course the good unqualifieds and bad qualifieds.

Do you as a bookkeeper look at or take note of who you are working with and what reasons do you use when selecting an accounts provider. Are there any factors that influence your decision. What work would you expect of someone in any of the organisations mentioned.

I have long been a support of campaigns to protect the term 'accountant' and wish it would be done; however, there are so many regulatory bodies that never seem to agree with each other.

Also should I, as a 'qualified' accountant have a better knowledge outside of predominantantly ICAEW and ACCA. Am I basically being ignorant and non appreciative?



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I think the term accountant means different things to different people.

To micro businesses there is little difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper. From that perspective someone AAT qualified would be more than capable of working as an entities accountant so can see some justification in the term.

However, for larger entities AAT or CAT will only get you somewhere if you've joined at a lower level and worked your way up through the ranks. Either that or your experience gets you the job.

To call MAAT an accountant does seem to put them at the same level of knowledge as members of the CCAB bodies (and CIMA when they leave). However, when reading posts over on accounting web I did come accross one interesting thread (which I now can't find again) that suggested that unless someone can pass ACCA papers P2 (Corporate Reporting) and P6 (Tax) then no matter what their status with any other body they are not really an accountant.

I pretty much agree with that sentiment. To me those two papers are pretty much the benchmark that defines you as an accountant.

Did you sign the petition to number 10 about protection of the term accountant? I got a response back saying that if they did too many people would lose their livelihoods! I'm not seeing that as bookkeepers can do much of the work of an accountant so the only thing that would have changed would have been the peoples business cards.

After saying that I am strongly in favour of the idea of bookkeeping also being a regulated term as an unqualified inexperienced bookkeeper can be as dangerous to a business as poor advice from an accountant espechially in situations where bookkeepers actually prepare and submit the accounts.

I suppose that there is always the fact that the term Auditor is already protected in law so maybe only Auditors should be deemed to be accountants and those who cannot audit regardless as to whether or not they practice as such should be regarded as bookkeepers.

On the selcecting an accounts provider front I'm in a bit of a quagmiire. I chose my accountant on the baseis that she was Chartered. She then sold the practice to another chartered whose trainee's were all ACCA. However the other partner who bought into the firm is actually unqualified.

So, I'm with an chartered practice but officially my accountant is an unqualified however I won't even talk to them (the only time that I did it almost ended in fisticuffs as the advice that they were giving was completely wrong and I told them so) and I deal only with the ACCA trainee's in the practice all of whome will convert to ICAEW post qualification where the unqualified partner has yet to take even one exam.

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Hi Phil

Just my own thoughts on the subject.

To define what makes someone a "qualified" accountant, I would start by asking myself, what exactly does an accountant do? To be honest, I will admit to not knowing the full answer to that.

If a person has enough inteligence to successfully complete the full sylabus, and has the right moral and ethical attitude (which in my opinion is the key to any good orbad professional), does the AAT prepare its members to beaccountants (in a generic sense).

How much morequalifieddoes being a member of an organisation with a royal charter make you? (that's a genuine question - see my opening paragraph).

The problem asI see it is, if at the top end of the AAT qualification you are capable of fullfillng the role of an accountant on a day to day, then that in my opinion is an accountant.

Regarding the qualified vs un qualified debate, my view is that the main difference is the exams, which are evidence that you once knew enough to meet the required level of underpinning knowledge, to be allowed tobecome a member of a regulated body.

Although I wont rule it out as an impossibility, I can't imagine that any one without some experience and knowledge would call themselves an accountant.I would have thought that most QBEs have experience, and canget CPD through various means. Couple that with the right moral and ethical attitude and you could have an accountant.

There appears to be quite a number of QBE accountants out there making a living, so someone is taking them on.

Having said all that, I know it is a lot more complex than I have written above, andI am in the "should be qualified" camp, in any trade or profession.

Bill

Knew I pondered too long on my response and Shaun would get there first



-- Edited by Wella on Tuesday 26th of April 2011 05:42:01 PM

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gbm


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HendyPhilhendy wrote:

I have always been of the opinion that qualified accountants are better than non qualifieds for a number of reasons, including, practical experience, exam qualifications, CPD requirement and general regulation. I appreciate that there are of course the good unqualifieds and bad qualifieds.


You're not wrong there!



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Shamus,

I just found something interesting on the ICAEW website. I assume when you say "the ACCA trainee's in the practice all of whome will convert to ICAEW post qualification" you mean via the pathways to membership scheme. Unless they are all very nearly qualifed they will have a problem doing that if they are in the UK as the scheme closes to UK entrants on 16th December this year.

See - http://www.icaew.com/en/join-us/members-of-other-bodies/pathways-to-membership

The only alternative will be to get exemptions from much of the ACA syllabus and do a reduced length training contract of 2 years for CCAB members.



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Hi Ginny,

thanks, didn't know that at all (there goes my post qualification planning!). Wonder if the guys in the practice have realised as I don't imagine any of them will be ready any time soon.

This is one of those businesses where you just can't plan ahead can you as trying to keep up with the supervisory bodies is a major achievement And where with some of the options you're making a five to ten year commitment it really doesn't seem fair at all when they play games with the qualifications.

Then again, some things that the ACCA have done I do approve of such as dropping the silly apprroach that they used to have where you had to take all three of the core papers at the professional level in a single sitting and if you fail one having to retake the lot on a limited retry arrangement... How cruel was that!









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Shaun

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Hi guys,
I think the answer to this question lies in the scope of the education and training.

I consider myself an accountant; I am a full member of the Institute of Financial Accountants and the other difference between my firm and say PWC is that I do not conduct audits. This is through choice as I prefer to work with smaller businesses and start-ups.

As for AAT, it says it in it's name - they are accounting technicians; look through the syllabus and you will see the that the scope of training is considerably less something like the IFA. I am not dissing AAT here having done that course too myself. Further to this, I have personally seen that member of big bodies (ICAEW for example) lack the training to do even the simplest bookkeeping entries.

So, my definition of qualified accountant is "a person acting in the accountancy profession in a professional, moral and ethical manner, with the required knowledge and experience to carry out the tasks required of them in that profession".

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David P Anderson AFA, FFTA

Anderson Accountancy

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Anderson Accountancy wrote:

So, my definition of qualified accountant is "a person acting in the accountancy profession in a professional, moral and ethical manner, with the required knowledge and experience to carry out the tasks required of them in that profession".


That sums it up for me smile



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HendyPhilhendy wrote:
Do you as a bookkeeper look at or take note of who you are working with and what reasons do you use when selecting an accounts provider. Are there any factors that influence your decision. What work would you expect of someone in any of the organisations mentioned.

I only really work with one FCA. I've know him for years and met him when he was the senior auditor at a former employer of mine.

My expectation of him is that he provides me and my clients with a level of technical expertise that I don't possess. More often that not it centres around tax and occasionally company law. In return I do most of his clients bookkeeping work and tend to handle his clients Sage questions.

In an ideal world, I do believe the term Accountant should be protected but so should Bookkeeper. I also believe that many micro / small businesses don't need the services of an Accountant and a suitably qualified bookkeeper is perfectly capable of handling their financial affairs - particularly if they've taken the time to develop a suitable support network.

One thig I've noticed that I find "funny" and echoes Seamus' point is, I only ever introduce myself as a Cerified Bookkeeper, but most of my client's and relatives refer to me as an Accountant no matter how clear I make it.



-- Edited by ADAS on Wednesday 27th of April 2011 10:31:40 PM

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gbm


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Anderson Accountancy wrote:

So, my definition of qualified accountant is "a person acting in the accountancy profession in a professional, moral and ethical manner, with the required knowledge and experience to carry out the tasks required of them in that profession".


I agree with your sentiment, but if you have someone who has worked in accounts offices for a good 10 years without doing any qualifications, then decides to set up on their own, I cannot accept that if a client walks in and asks "are you qualified?" they can genuinely say "yes".

But then again, I would say that as I'm a member of the club. I sweated hard for my qualifications - AAT, then CIMA, all done whilst in full time work- and I know I couldlet my membership lapse, not bother with some of the niceties of membership and still call myself an accountant and still do an excellent job for my clients - but then why bother getting qualified in the first place?

Very emotive subject for a lot of people. As intimated above, there are lots of unqualifieds who do excellent jobs too and lots of qualifieds who see it as a gravy train.



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Nick

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Nick has made a great point above - we work very hard to gain our qualification and don't want to just throw it away.


In an extension to those comments and the debate I would be interested to know how IFA and AAT people answer the following questions when asked either by clients or other contacts.

- Are you a qualified accountant?

- Are you a Chartered accountant?


The reason I ask this is because I get asked this reasonably regularly. The one that always catches me is the 'Chartered'. As I have chartered in the name I now tend to answer yes straight away without question, whereas previously I would stumble through an answer about the difference between Chartered Certified and Chartered (ICAEW).

It is also interesting how many clients don't ask the question or have a perception of the difference. If you say you are an accountant are they assuming you to be qualified (which you would regard yourself as) or chartered or both!

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Phil Hendy, The Accountancy Mentor

Are you thinking of setting up your own practice or have you set up and need some help?

If so a mentor may be the way forward - feel free to get in touch and see how I can assist you.

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