From 1 March 2020 we will be changing the way we investigate and dispose of instances where members, affiliates and students are found to be practising without a practising certificate (PC).
We are also changing the way we deal with members, affiliates and students providing bookkeeping services only.


Up to now, if the breach of ACCA’s regulations was inadvertent and provided a member engaging in public practice regularised their position and applied for a PC, or ceased being a principal/partner/director of a public practice firm or resigned from ACCA, the complaint would be dealt with by a simple rest on file. 

A ‘rest on file’ is an informal warning not a disciplinary outcome. Disposing of complaints this way carried no financial penalty.

Members, affiliates and students undertaking bookkeeping are entitled to do so without a PC by virtue of an exemption to the Global Practising Regulations (GPR 4(2) and for students and affiliates Membership Regulation 8(2)(b)).

From 1 March 2020

From 1 March 2020, we will also be checking to make sure that anyone who is:

  • a trust or company service provider,
  • an auditor,
  • an external accountant,
  • an insolvency practitioner,
  • a tax adviser,

is properly supervised for anti-money laundering (AML) compliance. 

An external accountant is someone who provides accountancy services to other persons by way of business.

The definition of ‘accountancy services’ is taken from the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB) Anti-money Laundering Guidance for the Accountancy Sector, and is very wide:

Accountancy services includes any service which involves recording, review, analysis, calculation or reporting of financial information, and which is provided under arrangements other than a contract of employment.

The list shown includes anyone who is in public practice to anyone who is providing bookkeeping services only.

Public practice

Currently those members of ACCA with a PC are automatically subject to AML supervision by ACCA. If you are a principal/partner/director of a firm in public practice without a PC and you are not registered for AML supervision and wish to continue this work, you will be asked to regularise your position by: -

a) Applying for a PC; and
b) Registering for AML Supervision with HMRC in order to rectify the position immediately pending issue of the ACCA PC if eligible. 


c) Resigning your membership with ACCA if not eligible for a PC; and
d) Registering for supervision with HMRC (ACCA will also notify HMRC in such cases).
e) Step down from being a partner, director, principal in a firm. 


Bookkeeping services do not constitute public practice under ACCA’s Global Practising Regulations, and members do not require a PC for this purpose and students and affiliates are permitted to provide such services.

However, bookkeeping falls within the definition of accountancy services. Consequently, both members, affiliates and students who are providing such services only will be asked to regularise their position by registering with HMRC for AML supervision.

Disposal of cases

All cases will be disposed of with a disciplinary outcome because failing to be registered with an AML supervisor when you are providing any of the services outlined above, is a criminal offence.

Unlike the rest on file disposal, disciplinary outcomes are published on ACCA’s Global website.

There will also be a significant financial impact for anyone affected. For those practising without a PC there will be:

  • the cost of obtaining a certificate
  • the cost of registering with HMRC for AML compliance
  • possible penalties imposed by HMRC for late registration, and
  • a fine and costs imposed by ACCA.

Should you hold a PC or licence?

If you are not sure whether you should hold a Practising Certificate or license, you must check the following:

If you are a member in public practice you should apply for a PC at the earliest opportunity.

If you are providing trust and company service, audit, insolvency, tax or accountancy services (which include bookkeeping), you must make sure you are registered for AML Supervision.

Register or review your money-laundering supervision with HMRC (opens in a new window).

Registering as a tax agent is not the same thing! If you are a tax agent and are filing any tax returns for clients you are deemed to be in public practice and must apply for a PC from ACCA.