A Sobering Tale For All Businessmen – Pick The Right Accountants!

????????????????????????????????????????I have written about this topic before but I thought I would share with you what can happen if you choose an accountant based solely on price or because you like their website or name or the fact that they are franchise

I have been amazed in my career as a Chartered Accountant at the amount of small businessmen that choose to have their tax and accounting done by firms that are not ‘professionally qualified and regulated accountants’

By ‘professionally qualified’ I mean one of the main five accountancy bodies and form what is known as CCAB who are ICAEW (Chartered Accountants in England & Wales), ACCA (chartered certified accountants, CIPFA (chartered institute of public finance), ICAS (chartered accountants scotland) and Chartered Accountants Ireland. (CIMA used to be one of the CCAB bodies)

The vast majority of large employers that recruit a ‘qualified accountant’ for senior positions these days require them to be CCAB qualified or CIMA

Small businessmen however do not appear to be so discerning with who they pick as their accountants.

I have in the past had clients come to me because their previous accountant just plainly did things incorrectly and I have had to re-file their accounts and tax returns going back years. In some cases I was able to avoid a penalty but in others not. In most cases you won’t know whether things are right or wrong until HMRC comes knocking the door and then you won’t have a good defence if your accountants weren’t qualified. Additionally you will have no regulatory body to complain to and they also may not carry PI insurance.

Most small businessmen do not know whether their tax is correct, most rely on their accountants to tell them, and if the tax figure is low the client thinks their accountant has done a good job and in alot of cases this is true. However in my opinion there is minority that are just plain wrong, and I base this opinion on the clients that I picked up where things were just prepared wrong

Now don’t get me wrong there are some very good accountants out there that are not CCAB qualified and there are probably some CCAB qualifieds that aren’t so good, but there is a reason that large employers always recruit qualified accountants with qualifications from the main accounting bodies.

If you are a small businessman you may say that I only need my accounts and tax returns filed, I don’t need tax advise or anything else. Well that maybe so but don’t you also want to make sure that your accountant is ensuring that you are taking advantage of all the tax opportunities available to you now and in the future? So surely you would want to hire the best accountants you can get wouldn’t you? Most ‘professional qualified accountants’ are forced to keep up to date with continuing professional development.


– Most small accounting firms don’t write their own tax updates, newsletters etc. they pay to have it done – its outsourced, so you don’t really know if they are tax experts
– The fees charged by most Chartered Accountants are not more expensive than anyone else
– Only accountants with the designation FCA or ACA are Chartered Accountants (FCA just means fellow rather than associate and means they are older and more experienced usually)
– The word ‘accountant’ is not legally protected in the UK like the word ‘solicitor’ which means anyone can call themselves an accountant and set up in business


Paul Stankiewicz is the owner and principal at Paul Marks & Co Chartered Accountants which is the trading name of Paul Marks Ltd a Limited Company registered in England and Wales (registered number 4487645). This article is designed for the information of readers only and readers should not act on any of the information contained in this article without seeking professional advice. Nothing in this article constitutes advice, nor does the transmission, downloading or sending of any information or the Material create any contractual relationship. Links to third party websites are provided as a convenience to the reader, Paul Marks Ltd does not control and is not responsible for any of those websites or their content.Paul Stankiewicz and Paul Marks Ltd accepts no liability or responsibility whatsoever for any loss or damage suffered by any user of the information contained on or accessed through this article or the Material downloaded.