What makes an accountant ‘chartered’?

To the general public, there might not be much of an understanding of the difference between an accountant and a chartered accountant. Both fall into the same profession: managing finances and helping individuals and companies with all issues relating to money.

And, yes, while there are obvious similarities and overlap, there are some quite specific differences between accountants and chartered accountants.

What is the difference between an account and a chartered accountant?

Some people assume that an accountant becomes ‘chartered’ when they have completed a specific set of training or degree, or perhaps if they have had a certain number of years of experience. Neither of these suggestions are quite right, and the truth is that it is a little more complicated overall.

Firstly, in theory anyone who has undertaken any kind of accounting course or had any working practice in the field can refer to themselves as an accountant – it is not a protected term and it does not require any specific training or experience. An accountant might often specialise in a particular element of accountancy such as payroll or TAX and VAT submissions.

By law anyone can call themselves an accountant. The title ‘chartered accountant’ and the letters ACA or FCA, however, indicates that the person has undertaken a minimum of three years in-depth training, passed a series of rigorous examinations in financial management, auditing, business strategy and taxation, and committed to continuing professional development to keep their skills up to date.

Crucially, they will also need to have membership of either the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). These organisations will only allow membership after an accountant has the qualifications and experience as outlined above.

Although unqualified accountants are subject to the same laws as chartered accountants, ICAEW Chartered Accountants are bound by our Code of Ethics and subject to our disciplinary procedures. They are required to hold a practising certificate and professional indemnity insurance if they offer professional services to the public.

Ultimately, it can be considered that accountants take on transactional financial roles, whereas Chartered Accountants have broader expertise across a wide range of subjects in both standard accountancy, as well as business and personal finance.

What can a Chartered Accountant do?

Chartered Accountants are not only capable of providing everyday accountancy services ranging from monthly payroll to help with self-assessment tax returns – they are also perfectly placed to offer in-depth business advice and guidance surrounding finances and a broad range of other issues.

Chartered Accountants are required by businesses for a number of reasons and they could be used for financial reporting, corporate finance, auditing, forensic accounting, taxation, business recovery and insolvency.

Additionally, they can provide services pertaining to business advice and making strategic financial decisions for small and large businesses.

They may additionally have specialisations allowing them to provide insight and guidance in areas such as international tax and property transactions.

What are the benefits of using a Chartered Accountant?

Many Chartered Accountants are regulated professionals who have shown themselves to have extensive experience and training across accountancy and finance more broadly. Having a dedicated Chartered Accountancy firm work with your business can provide you with sound financial advice, wide-range experience and the peace of mind that this is a professionally qualified individual who is bound by a code of ethics and professional standards.

Poor accounting can have a hugely negative impact on your business. Of course, accountants play a vital role in the day-to-day running of a company – but Chartered Accountants are qualified and certified to provide advice and guidance to a company.

Interested in learning more?

If you require some form of financial guidance or accounting services and you are not sure whether you need an accountant or a Chartered Accountant, the team at Wellden Turnbull would be happy to help.

We are Chartered Accountants providing a wide range of financial and accountancy services. Contact us for more information.

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