Who conducts a visit?
ACCA Quality Checked visits are conducted by ACCA staff and take place alongside routine monitoring visits. Staff conducting these visits are qualified accountants who have previously worked in practice at a senior level.
They visit numerous accountancy firms of all sizes in the course of their work and this gives them the advantage of seeing how different firms tackle their quality control issues. They can call on this extensive experience to advise and guide firms on practical controls and procedures.
What happens at a visit?
At an ACCA Quality Checked visit the firm's procedures are discussed, reviewed and assessed. The visit has three stages.
The visit will start with a fact finding discussion with the principals. This will cover a detailed review of what the firm does and how it does it, the client profile and any plans for the future. This allows the reviewer to tailor any advice on improving systems to suit each individual firm.
2. Review of records and client files
This will cover an inspection of the filing system, IT systems and planning boards, diaries or other reminder systems as well as a review of a selection of client files. This review confirms the systems and quality controls described in the initial discussion.
3. Assessment of quality controls and recommendations
The reviewer will identify where the firm’s procedures meet the ACCA Quality Checked standards, and:
- identify any perceived weaknesses in the firm's systems
- explain the associated risks
- recommend any necessary improvements to procedures
- advise how to operate more efficiently
This advice may help to enhance the services the firm provides to its clients and improve profitability.
The recommendations are split between key and general recommendations. A firm must implement the key recommendations in order to obtain the award.
What happens after a visit?
Following an ACCA Quality Checked visit the reviewer will issue a report to the firm. This will summarise the weaknesses and risks identified during the visit and the recommendations made for improvements.
Where firms fall short of the standard set by the ACCA Quality Checked scheme they can take advantage of the advice and guidance given following a visit in order to achieve this standard.
Firms are encouraged to raise their standards to the level required to be awarded the ACCA Quality Checked and certificate and those who do not meet the standard will be allowed up to one year after the visit to make improvements and reach the standard for this award.
Some firms will need to make only minor changes to their procedures in order to achieve the standards for ACCA Quality Checked while others will have to make more wide ranging changes and implement some new procedures.
Where only minor changes are needed the firm may be able to confirm that it has made these changes in writing and by sending any relevant documentation to the Quality Assurance Unit. In other cases a reviewer will need to re-visit the firm to see the changes in operation. The report will detail what can be confirmed in writing and what will require a re-visit.
At a re-visit the reviewer will normally look at the operation of new procedures introduced to meet recommendations in the visit report.