Chartered Accountants 'what to look for' blurbs

Myriam
Myriam FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 10 Regular contributor ⭐ ? ⭐
Hi

I'm a recently set up MIP just trying to build up a client base.

I have seen a fair few chartered accountant's pitching to freelancers and small ltd's who say in their web blurb that people should make sure they have a chartered accountant because they undertaken rigorous testing and are highly regulated...

Have other people come across this? How is it best handled/countered if a client or prospective client queries AAT MIP as a valid level of qualification if they've heard this from a chartered accountant?

Also, in a level playing field of working with the above type of clients, would I be expected to be cheaper than a chartered accountant, even though they are arguably over-qualified for these clients?

Thanks

Comments

  • RAS
    RAS Registered Posts: 124 ? ? ?
    To be fair chartered status is a step up from AAT, so you can see why a chartered practice would use this to try and gain a marketing edge. At the end of the day it is the quality of service at the right price that will determine client retentions and client recommendations, whether chartered, AAT, qualified by experience etc etc.
  • Myriam
    Myriam FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 10 Regular contributor ⭐ ? ⭐
    I agree it is a step up, but I disagree with their marketing that people should ONLY use chartered accountants.

    What is the point in AAT MIP if that is the case?

    I am not worried about my client retention or recommendations. More about what to say to people when they say they've heard they should only use a chartered accountant, and am I chartered. (Obviously I'm not chartered so it's how to explain that I am qualified to practice even though I'm not chartered).

    I've emailed the MIP team to see if the AAT have anything on their website which clients who are concerned or who want to know more about my qualifications can access.
  • JodieR
    JodieR Registered Posts: 1,002
    Clients very rarely ask about this, or if they do they're happy with a very simple explanation. I tell clients that being a chartered accountant qualifies them to do work which is beyond the scope of an AAT MIP, for example auditing. There is no requirement by Co House or HMRC for small businesses to have their accounts signed off by a chartered accountant, and most banks recognise the AAT qualification. I do point out that there may be other interested parties who want to see accounts signed by a chartered accountant (for example a potential investor or possibly certain banks) but I've been doing this for 8 years now and so far have never encountered this.
    Also, (and choose your words carefully for this bit), I feel that Chartered Accounants often don't spend much time 'looking after' very small businesses. I'm sure that this is not true for all of them, but the clients who I've got who've previously been with chartered accountants often comment on how much more thorough I am with their affairs and they like that I take the time to explain things to them. I've seen many examples where I charge half of what the client's previously been charged for basic accounts/tax return and often find careless errors on the previous accounts.
    As far as I'm concerned the Chartered accountants should be dealing with the larger businesses and more complex areas of accountancy and leave the smaller simpler businesses to us - much in the same way that if someone phones me up and has an incredibly simple small business and they seem bright I'm happy to suggest that they complete their tax return themselves instead of thinking 'oo I'll make a quick buck here'.
    sorry, went on a bit of a tangent there but my advice is not to worry about it, it'll not be as big an issue as you think it will, and there are many points you can beat a chartered accounant on... price is the obvious one but things like working flexible hours and offering to visit clients can often sway a potential client too.
    Good Luck!
  • RAS
    RAS Registered Posts: 124 ? ? ?
    Often you will find government websites etc that provide advice on starting businesses, will recommend that you use a chartered accountant and then link to the ICAEW website. Probably agree that the other accountancy bodies should do more to promote their own professional status, but as Jodie mentions it is probably not as much as an issue as you might think. So long as you are competent in the work and advice you provide, then I am sure will be fine, good luck with it.
  • Antoinnette
    Antoinnette Registered Posts: 118 ? ? ?
    What a coincidence

    I logged on to ask this same question!
    I got asked by three potential clients in the last week if I was a Chartered Accountant and I explained about the auditing etc that chartered accountants do and added that I am qualified to do their accounts if they are not at the audit threshold. One was sure she only wanted a chartered accountant needless tosay I haven't heard back from her - her turnover is under 77k so very confusing for me.
    I also find it really tricky because I am a fairly new MIP. However I just told myself at the time I had to be more confident in defending my qualification. But it was a 25 minute conversation I found uncomfortable. It made me wonder if other MIPs had made a decision to go Chartered because of these uncomfortable questions.
    On the other hand some clients have not even asked what my qualification is!
  • stevo5678
    stevo5678 Registered Posts: 325
    The interesting question I often come across is whether ACCA is 'Chartered'.

    Yes it is in one respect as it stands for Chartered Certified Accountant. However per the ACCA a member cannot call themselves a 'Chartered Accountant' but a 'Chartered Certified Accountant ' or 'Certified Accountant' is fine. To me it makes no difference and I think most clients don't care and the snobby ones (if we label them that) just want to hear the word 'Chartered' associated to the accountants qualification probably due to a lack of understanding in the profession.

    However many ACA's in practice mainly the older ones make a point of referring to ACCA's as Certified accountants despite ACCA standing for The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

    So to me it depends on the context, between accountants in practice Chartered is mainly referred to for an ACA and Certified for an ACCA. To the man on the street I don't think he distuinguishes between the two.

    For the record, many of the MIP's I communicate with on here are far more knowledgable than most of the ACA's and ACCA's I have worked with. It is 100% the experience that matters most.

    I would say an AAT with ATT has better tax knowledge than an ACA or ACCA from a technical point of view (I've done ACCA and ATT).
  • burg
    burg Moderator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    It is something that comes up from time to time but pretty rarely. I think I've lost one or two clients that I know of because of it. Similar to others I explain the differences. It all comes back to the always ongoing debate of Chartered V non chartered V Qualified by Experience there are good and bad for all.

    I provide tax support to a firm of chartered accountants because they are not confident enough with it all.

    I gained a client last week - fairly large fee (c£4k) - from a firm of chartered accountants. When I requested professional clearance they replied that they were concerned that a 'non qualified accountant' would be acting for their former client and filing accounts on their behalf. I responded appropriately about there derogatory comments to which they duly passed the emails to the client.

    He contacted me and said.... You see why I wanted to leave?! He was more than happy with what we can offer to him and actually thinks we may offer him more.

    My advice is don't worry about the chartered firms just pick your place in the market and your target clients and do everything to be aimed at them. You will win some and you will lose some but thats the way it goes sometimes.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • NeilH
    NeilH Registered Posts: 553
    Hi

    I think a lot of this comes down (as has been said) to clients being miss-informed about the accountancy profession. I was once worked for a small family owed Ltd company where one of the owner directors was convinced that as a limited company they had to have "chartered accountants" to prepare the accounts - but this was coming from someone who was the company secretary, part ran the company but wouldn’t have the payroll done in-house because she wasn’t confident enough.

    It’s often the case in service business that clients want to know what you can do and how well you can do as opposed to the letters after your name.

    Neil
  • Newbie
    Newbie Registered Posts: 229 ? ? ?
    interesting post, I almost lost a new client as the old chartered firm was suggesting I was not competent to do the work, I find this issue only comes up rarely, I do think the AAT could do more to promote its members especially when articles are published on choosing an accountant and we are not even mentioned, however, im not too fussed as I am happy with my business growth and think of us a small business specialists.
  • Dcollins
    Dcollins Registered Posts: 179 ? ? ?
    You could let them know that you're a member of the largest non-chartered accountancy body in the UK. You're licenced and regulated by the AAT, so you adhere to the AAT's code of conduct and professional ethics. If the client should ever have cause for complaint they can approach AAT, which gives the client much the same protection that they would have with a chartered accountant.

    You could even direct them to the professional standards section of the AAT's website. Or they can check that you're listed by clicking 'find an AAT accountant'.

    The problem is that there is no legal requirement for accountants to be qualified, so anyone can set up in practice. The 'find a chartered accountant' mantra is widespread because of this, and it's understandable really.
  • MarieNoelle
    MarieNoelle Moderator, MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,369
    After reading this I googled "qualified accountants". Interestingly enough one of the first hit was a link to this website:

    http://www.local-accountants-uk.co.uk/articles/is-your-accountant-qualified.htm

    No mention of AAT sadly....
  • Rozzi Rainbow
    Rozzi Rainbow Registered Posts: 465
    stevo5678 wrote: »
    However many ACA's in practice mainly the older ones make a point of referring to ACCA's as Certified accountants despite ACCA standing for The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

    My boss who is an ACA does this! (I am an ACCA student.) One of my colleagues is now convinced that his qualification is therefore better than what I am studying for. I realise this is a completely separate argument to the main point of this thread, and different people will have differing views on this, but when I started ACCA it was on the belief that it was just as good a qualification as ACA. Makes me half wonder if I should have taken ACA instead if there really is that much 'snobbery' around.

    Anyway onto the main point of this thread - we actually had a completely opposite client once, asking us exactly why she needed a Chartered Accountant and what we could offer her that a non-Chartered Accountant couldn't, and we never heard from her again.
  • stevo5678
    stevo5678 Registered Posts: 325
    My boss who is an ACA does this! (I am an ACCA student.) One of my colleagues is now convinced that his qualification is therefore better than what I am studying for. I realise this is a completely separate argument to the main point of this thread, and different people will have differing views on this, but when I started ACCA it was on the belief that it was just as good a qualification as ACA. Makes me half wonder if I should have taken ACA instead if there really is that much 'snobbery' around.

    Stevo

    You only ever hear an ACA state that it is better and no one else... (nothing like self promoting)

    ACA love to think they are the only 'Chartered' body. Does that mean all the other CCAB bodies and CIMA are not 'Chartered'?

    Professionaly the qualification is as good but the body IE ICAEW has more recognition in the UK within practice and the ACCA spreads itself a bit wider strategically. Not recognition for the individual but recognition in terms of influence as a body.

    The standard of professionalism and exams is pratically the same and the tuition is often at the same places by the same tutors EG Reed, BP, Kaplan.

    Where I am based there is an ACA accountancy firm with 20 partners and it is top 40. The Managing Partner is ACCA - I think that speaks for itself in that it makes no difference if you are ACA/ACCA. For one to argue it is better I would say they are not in touch with the real world. I would love to know why some think it is better. To me they are simply different 'Brands'.

    Up until recently an ACCA with 5 years experience could gain the ACA qualification without sitting an exam! (Pathway to membership). Now you need to do around 5 exams either way to gain the others qualification (5 from ACA to ACCA and 2 plus case study from ACCA to ACA)
  • stevo5678
    stevo5678 Registered Posts: 325
    Hi Ian, do you mind me asking the scope of the work you are doing for the new client as that is a heck of a fee :)
  • burg
    burg Moderator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    Its a bit of a range, Ltd Co accounts and Corp Tax, Some CIS, Payroll and VAT with a small amount of bookkeeping.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • Myriam
    Myriam FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 10 Regular contributor ⭐ ? ⭐
    Thank you all

    Thanks everyone!

    Some great advice and support and mutual understanding out there! I'm feeling a lot more confident about responding to any concerns (if it comes up again).

    Agree that AAT should promote itself a bit more.

    And I was looking at the ATT syllabus for the future (got my hands a bit full just at the mo with a 10 month old and new business!) as I think it would be far more beneficial for my clients for me to do that than a chartered body course.

    :001_smile:
  • RAS
    RAS Registered Posts: 124 ? ? ?
    There has been a number of previous posts about ATT. Generally, if you are looking to concentrate on smaller, less complicated businesses then ATT is more likely to be the better option. If you did go down the ACCA/ICAEW etc route be careful of any practice restrictions. ACCA are very strict with this and you cannot carry out any practice work without their Practising Certificate, which is not easy to get. Not sure about the other bodies.
  • Paul C
    Paul C Registered Posts: 193 ? ? ?
    I only have a small number of clients so I can only comment from a limited point of view I suppose.

    My two latest clients have been "won" from local chartered accountants. Which really really surprised me. One of them was very particular about not have a chartered accountant (a huge bill in the past).

    I think my selling point compared to chartered is that I am very local (one mile or so) from them - something they really wanted. Also price of course - I work from home so naturally have less overheads. But I also think its the personal touch they like which I can give as a smaller firm.

    Chartered can do all of that of course - I suppose it just gets harder the bigger you get, with more overheads and lots of clients.
  • peaman
    peaman Registered Posts: 123 ? ? ?
    In the last few months I have taken on 2 clients from ACCA accountants. One was a large firm in the city, the other was a sole trader.

    Neither of the clients directly questioned my qualifications (FMAAT & ATT) but they both asked if I have the requisite qualifications/experience to prepare their accounts, I just told them that I have been doing this in practice for 18yrs.

    As Paul C mentioned, I think the personal touch is quite important. I seem to have given the impression when meeting them that I can easily do the work and I can be trusted. They are both more than happy with me and have said a number of very nice things about me and referred new clients to me.

    I also work full time in an ACCA practice, we have one member of staff that is ACCA qualified and I can honestly state that he has nothing whatsoever to do with over 90% of the work that goes through the firm. Virtually all the accounts are prepared by juniors, then reviewed by me, then the senior partner (not qualified) agrees them. The only involvement from the ACCA member is to prepare the CT return for the limited companies. The only other work he does is a couple of audits and some charity work.

    I don't think clients realise this, they seem to think that in an ACCA firm all the work is completed by ACCA quailfied individuals.
  • Monsoon
    Monsoon FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071 ? ? ?
    Ian, they said what to you? That's almost unbelievable! Ugh!

    As to me...

    Person: "Are you chartered?"

    Me: "I'm with the AAT, the leading non-chartered accountancy body. We are qualified and regulated to do all you need and more. The only thing we can't do is audit, which is only for big businesses."

    A bit of a politician's answer, but it does the job.
  • Newbie
    Newbie Registered Posts: 229 ? ? ?
    I personally think the AAT could do more to promote its members or at least to ensure publications are balanced opinions, i see that the ICAEW is currently promoting its members on twitter
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