Like any membership body, there are rules to comply with. We want to help you get your practice up and running in the right way.
This resource has been developed for the UK market – if you are not based in the UK and Ireland then you should look at the information on our regulation of ACCA members outside of UK and Ireland which you can download from this page.
This section provides some guidance to help you meet the requirements of being an ACCA practice in the UK.
Here we detail some subjects of regulation that may apply to you and your practice if you are based in the UK. For more detailed information, visit our main practising information section.
You can download a checklist from this page to help you assess whether your firm has put everything in place to comply with our Global Practising Regulations.
You can also read this article by ACCA member Caroline Harridence based in the UK on the regulatory aspects and considerations of starting your own accountancy firm in the uk.
Members who intend to do audit work in the UK must apply for a practising certificate and audit qualification for the UK.
If audits are to be done, a firm’s auditing certificate must also be held. Before applying for the audit qualification, you must record your experience in a Practising Certificate Experience Form (PCEF).
A firm in the UK (being a partnership, company, limited liability partnership or even a sole practitioner) that holds, or intends to hold, audit appointments will need to obtain audit registration from a Recognised Supervisory Body (RSB) in the UK. We can register firms in this regard through a firm’s auditing certificate.
Visit our practitioner forms page to download an application.
International Standard on Quality Control 1 (ISQC 1)
Firms that hold an auditing certificate must comply with the requirements of the International Standard on Quality Control (UK and Ireland) 1 (ISQC 1).
The objective of ISQC 1 is to provide reasonable assurance that the firm and its personnel comply with professional standards and regulatory and legal requirements.
Also that audit reports issued by the firm or engagement partners are appropriate in the circumstances.
We have developed a guide which is designed to assist firms to implement the requirements of ISQC 1 and to understand all the practical issues involved.
Visit our auditing and reporting standards page for more information.
Registering for investment business and credit-related regulated activities in the UK
ACCA is a Designated Professional Body (DPB) under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
This enables member firms to carry out a limited range of regulated activities, without having to obtain direct authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), provided those activities are ‘incidental’ to the following services provided to the clients concerned:
- core accounting
- taxation, or
- business advice services
This limited range of regulated activities is known as ‘exempt regulated activities’.
The scope of the exempt regulated activities and the application process to be able to perform exempt regulated activities as set out in section three of our practice information handbook.
Any ACCA firm carrying out, or planning to carry out, a regulated activity (except an exempt regulated activity) must have direct FCA authorisation.
ATOL Reporting Accountants scheme
We have reached an agreement with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK to licence members as Air Travel Organisers' Licence (ATOL) Reporting Accountants (ARA).
To register as an ARA a member must hold an ACCA practising certificate and have completed a professional examination covering assurance work as approved by the CAA (eg Paper F8, Audit and Assurance or Paper P7, Advanced Audit and Assurance or previous equivalents of our professional examinations).
Members must also have successfully completed the online ATOL training module.
Register for training
To register for the training members are required to email email@example.com and provide their:
- professional body
- membership number
There is no fee for an ACCA member to register under the ARA scheme.
The firm must also apply to become a ARA firm. A firm must contain at least one ACCA principal. The fee in 2017 is 418 GBP for each principal who is neither a member of ACCA nor licensed as an ARA by ACCA.
ACCA can also register individuals who are not members of ACCA. The fee for non-members in 2017 is 461 GBP.
If you carry out such work then you will need to put in place a continuity of practice agreement with another ATOL reporting accountant.
Visit our practictioner forms page to download application forms for individuals and firms.
Further information is available on our CAA/ATOL reporting technical article.
Holding client money
The ACCA Rulebook has a code of ethics and conduct covering specific areas in which ACCA regulates its members. This includes various sections that are relevant to a new practice seeking additional business from new and existing clients including clients’ monies.
Download our factsheet obtaining professional work.
Holders of practising certificates must comply with the relevant anti-money laundering legislation and regulations.
For example, a practitioner in the UK must ensure that:
- their practice has a nominated officer to take responsibility for compliance
- there are procedures in place to gather and retain evidence of the identification of all clients
- principals and staff in their practice receive appropriate training
- a firm-wide risk assessment is carried out
- ongoing compliance monitoring is carried out
- suspicions of money laundering are reported as required by law
In the UK for example, any person who provides audit, insolvency, tax, accountancy or trust and company services must be supervised by a recognised supervisory authority under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 (employees do not require supervision). We give more guidance in our technical activities section and there is also a webinar available.
Members in the UK who provide accountancy services within the terms of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, by way of business which fall outside the meaning described by regulation four of the Global Practising Regulations (for example book-keeping), are subject to supervision for compliance with the anti-money laundering provisions under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017.
In such cases, eligible members should consider obtaining a practising certificate from ACCA in order to be supervised by us. Alternatively, members must register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or another body recognised for such purposes.
If your firm in the UK is controlled by our members (ie at least half of the partners/directors are members of ACCA and the ACCA partners/directors control at least 51% of the voting rights) or holds an auditing certificate from us, you/your firm are automatically supervised by ACCA.
If your firm does not meet these requirements, you must be supervised by another recognised supervisory authority, or register with HMRC in the UK.
Check the appropriate anti-money laundering regulation for your new practice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each ACCA firm or individual member carrying on regulated credit activities needs to be either:
- individually authorised by the FCA
- exempt from regulation, or
- come within ACCA’s Designated Professional Body (DPB) Regulations, which derive from the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA) Part 20 regime
Internal complaints handling procedures
Our members are required to implement adequate procedures to handle client complaints in respect of fee, service and contractual disputes. There are also obligations upon members after an internal complaints-handling procedures has been exhausted.
Code of ethics and conduct
The Code of Ethics and Conduct is set out in section three of the ACCA Rulebook and is binding on all our members, and any partner (or director) in an ACCA practice.
It is also binding on the staff of such a practice regardless of whether or not they are a member of ACCA or any other professional body.
Download our factsheet code of ethics and conduct.
Professional conduct in relation to taxation (PCRT)
The leading UK accountancy and tax bodies have published guidance on the standards expected of tax advisers and agents. The guidance has been endorsed by HMRC and sets out clear professional standards in relation to the facilitation and promotion of tax avoidance.
Download our technical factsheet professional conduct in relation to taxation.
Individuals wishing to apply for authorisation for probate are required to hold a legal activities qualification. Members of ACCA must hold a practising certificate and have successfully completed a relevant course and assessment covering specific areas of probate work.
Individuals who are not members of ACCA can also apply for probate authorisation and must hold (or be eligible to hold) probate authorisation with another approved regulator, or have completed a relevant course and assessment covering specific areas of probate work, or be otherwise entitled to carry on probate activities under the Legal Services Act 2007.
Firms wishing to apply for probate authorisation must apply for a Firm’s Legal Activities Certificate (FLAC). Individuals are not eligible to undertake probate work through ACCA unless the firm(s) in which they practice holds a FLAC.
Separate application forms for members, non-members and firms are available on our website.
There is no fee for an individual to register as an ALAI but a fee is payable by the firm for the FLAC.
Further information is available on the our website and a webinar on understanding the probate process in the UK.
Members holding practising certificates and firms holding auditing certificates, exempt regulated activities registration or investment business certificates (Ireland) are subject to regular monitoring by ACCA.
The monitoring cycle is risk-based and the interval between audit monitoring visits varies between two and six years. Low risk firms will be re-visited within six years, medium risk firms within four years and high risk firms within two years.
Newly registered firms will normally be regarded as medium risk and visited for the first time within four years of their initial registration.
In some cases, firms that hold auditing or investment business certificates but who do not undertake any regulated work may be subject to desktop monitoring instead of monitoring visits. This may also apply to firms that do not hold certificates but have principals who are ACCA members.
Firms selected for desktop monitoring will be asked to complete a compliance questionnaire and to submit various documents and records to Practice Monitoring Directorate for inspection.
After assessing this documentation, Practice Monitoring Directorate will consider whether a monitoring visit is necessary. In addition, a number of firms will be selected on a random basis for visits in order to confirm the accuracy of the information supplied on the compliance questionnaire.