Why I am supporting “What is an Accountant?”

I can whole heartedly say from my experience of telemarketing for accountants that there are a lot of people out there who are blissfully unaware that anyone can legally call themselves an Accountant, whether qualified, experienced, or not!

A conversation with a friend of mine yesterday proved that point when I was telling her about this campaign. She is a graduate member of the institute of credit management with lots of experience of working alongside accountants in commercial organisations and did not think for one minute that anyone could call themselves an accountant without having a professional qualification of some kind. She assumed it was a protected word. My friend also runs her own business and does her own accounts. She accepts that she may not be making the best financial decisions regarding tax but it suits her needs. Her words were “If I needed an accountant I would look in the phone book, they are all more or less the same really aren’t they?”

Unfortunately her view is shared by a lot of people that I speak with on a day to day basis who assume that anyone who calls themselves an Accountant must be competent to the same level as any other accountant as it’s a professional career. I mean, they are even allowed to sign passport photo’s aren’t they?

If we think about the journey that plumbing has taken over the years there is a common purpose I feel that is based upon AWARENESS.

Gas Safe was introduced to provide protection where there was the highest areas of risk to consumers. However, anyone could and still can call themselves a Plumber and do non-gas work. This is still the case today but the difference is that most consumers have an AWARENESS of the difference in qualifications and the need for Gas Safe accreditation for gas situations. Some consumers are careful to select a Gas Safe Plumber for everything, including fixing a leaking sink, when the qualification is over-kill but it is their choice.

I feel that this is very similar to accounting in terms of increased AWARENESS being needed to help people understand that anyone can call themselves an accountant, but to be aware of what qualifications exist and why.

I am not saying that economy should be restricted or there should be more regulation. There are after all bad accountants that are qualified in just the same way as there are bad plumbers who are Gas Safe registered (ever seen Rogue Traders?) but the difference is that there is a level of awareness in this industry that educates people to the extent that they can feel comfortable in making choices that are right for them and they know where to go to if they need clarification or help.

With the large volume of accountancy qualifications it is a minefield for people choosing an accountant. They either don’t know that many variations exist or if they do, they don’t understand the difference and how these match their business.

This is partly the reason why I set up a site to assist people at http://www.find-me-an-accountant.com  one testimonial on there says (and I have highlighted the parts that are relevant to the campaign..)

“… was a great service for us as a new startup facing a frankly bewildering array of accountants. Maxxy’s industry knowledge and personal handling of our enquiry meant that we were quickly put in touch with knowledgeable, professional and approachable accountants. It’s saved us hours of searching and helped us avoid a potentially costly mistake in choosing the wrong accountant.

It shouldn’t be so difficult for people to understand and make choices but all the while that awareness is low, I shall help do what I can to help fill the gap.

To support the campaign you need to sign the petition here… and hopefully the message will grow and various interested parties will do what they can to help improve awareness.
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