Friday, September 20 11:25:47
The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA Ireland) has expressed its dismay that there is still no legal protection for the term "Accountant".
It said that the Companies Bill 2012, due to go before the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation shortly, still does not give legal protection to the term Accountant, despite the danger this poses for members of the public seeking financial advice.
Speaking at CPA Ireland's Practitioners Conference today, Mr Joe Aherne, President CPA Ireland said the Companies Bill is one of the largest single pieces of legislation in the history of the State and there is much to be welcomed in the Bill including a much needed simplification of company law with a primary focus on 'think small first'.
"However, I am shocked and disappointed that provision has still not been made for the statutory recognition of the term 'accountant' despite the Institute making representations on this high priority issue for more than a decade now," said Mr Aherne.
"It's an extraordinary situation, but currently in Ireland, anyone can set themselves up as an accountant, without education, qualifications or experience. In the current financial climate, many members of the public are seeking accountancy advice and expertise, often for the first time. There are individuals and firms offering services to an unsuspecting public and calling themselves accountants, even though they do not hold any accountancy qualifications and are not subject to regulation."
"As generations repay the damage caused by light touch regulation, it is extraordinary that the Government would let the opportunity pass to close this important loophole. Our members are seeing at first hand the havoc caused in businesses around the country as a result of bad advice. The public need to know that when they are dealing with an accountant they are dealing with a professional who has to adhere to the most rigid professional standards. Our legislators have one chance now to get this right and we are therefore calling for amends to be put forward to the Bill immediately to give legal protection to the term Accountant," said Mr Aherne.
The accountancy profession has developed, over the years, a sophisticated model of self-regulation to ensure that standards are maintained within the profession. CPAs undergo and complete a rigorous education and examination process. In practice, it takes on average between five and seven years to qualify as an accountancy practitioner. Upon qualifying a member may use the letters of their membership body to seek employment as an accountant but if they wish to offer services to the public they must undertake further training.