The ICAEW – neglecting its duty to regulate

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I got an email form the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales last week. I am a regulated practising chartered accountant. It said:

I am pleased to write to you in your capacity as Practice Assurance Contact Principal about the new annual return. It is now much shorter, clearer and easier to complete. The first firms to receive the new return and revised guidance notes will be those due to file a return in September.

Using feedback from our firms, we have revised the form to make it more straightforward, easier to complete, and to rationalise the amount of information firms need to provide.

It is now almost half the length of the previous version. We have reduced the information required about clients and turnover and have re-assessed the data we need to monitor firms' compliance with legislation, regulations, the Institute's bye-laws and Code of Ethics.

Was I pleased? No way. This form is not an onerous burden. I've done them since the 1980's. Frankly I've always suspected that they form an essential part of a firm's internal control environment and impose a discipline which I know (because ICAEW inspectors have told me so) many firms do not have.

So what does "reduced information" on compliance mean? Simply that the ICAEW is no longer regulating these issues. That's what it means.

When will we give up self regulation, something I've been calling for since about 1988?