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

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If you are seeking accounting and tax advice or services then it is important to select a professional you can trust. What may surprise many people is that, by law, anyone can call themselves an accountant.

One of the first things you should ask when choosing an accountant is whether or not they are chartered – the term is an internationally recognised designation and is the hallmark for quality and professionalism in accounting.

Entrusting your financial affairs with an accountant that isn’t chartered means you may have nowhere to turn if there are problems with the quality of their advice, their conduct or their standards of service.

What is a chartered accountant?

The title ‘Chartered Accountant’ and the letters ACA or FCA, indicates that the person has undertaken a minimum of three years of 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.

To be called “Chartered Accountants”, an accountancy practice must be a member of one of the Chartered Institutes, such as the ICAEW – Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Chartered accountants are bound by a code of ethics to uphold a set of professional principles, endeavouring to always put their clients’ interests above their own. They are also required to hold a practising certificate and professional indemnity insurance if they offer professional services to the public.

When do you need to choose a chartered accountant?

There are good reasons for hiring a chartered accountant at each different stage of your company’s growth. From a business plan to company formation, loan application to a tax investigation, a chartered accountant can make life easier for you at each step with in-depth knowledge and support.

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