When is an accountant not an accountant?

This might seem like an odd question to ask and you may not be interested at all but let me ask you the same thing in a different way. “Did you know that you do not have to be qualified to be an accountant?” Your reaction will be slightly different and you will probably ask why; and be more interested.

Anyone can call themselves an accountant, whether they are qualified or not! No I am not joking. What does it mean “qualified accountant” and what does it mean for you? The difference is that qualified accountants have completed exams, are members of a professional body such as ICAEW or CIMA or ACCA (to mention the most prominent ones, there are others) and have to adhere to rules and undertake certain training to ensure they are up-to-date with laws and regulations. They are also insured so you are protected against any negligence on their part.

“Accountants” without qualifications – yes this is possible – have often worked in a finance department of an organisation and may have sat their exams but not finished or passed. They may well have relevant experience and trained in other areas of accountancy but they are not subject to the same rules and supervision which is designed to protect the client. So at this point I have to admit – sometimes even I like rules!

I’m not trying to bash non-qualified accountants as there are some who have the relevant experience to satisfy their client’s needs but choosing the ‘right’ accountant is a big deal so take this as food for thought when you have to make that decision. And please forgive me to end with a little sales punt for AIMS: all AIMS accountants are qualified and are members of a professional Institute, so in addition to AIMS systems and quality control of AIMS our clients also benefit from that.

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