Complaints can arise because of a lack of communication between client and accountant. These complaints can often be resolved by discussion, however you may find that you are unable to resolve the problem or that the issues are so serious that you need to contact an Institute of Chartered Accountants. There are institutes in the UK and in Ireland.
How to make a complaint
Before making an official complaint try discussing the problem with the accountant first – addressing it to the senior partner within the accountancy firm may see action taken faster. If not contact the Institute and they will send you a complaint form or explain what is needed in the letter. When completing and returning the complaint form, remember to enclose copies of any relevant correspondence and documentation and forward all papers.
What happens next
The institute should acknowledge the safe receipt of your complaint and then pass it on to an assessor, who will consider your complaint to see if action can be taken.
If the complaint shows a potential liability or disciplinary action the assessor will consider how your complaint is best dealt with. However, if the assessor feels that a matter is capable of being settled without disciplinary action, conciliation will follow.
A conciliator will try to help you and the accountant reach a satisfactory agreement. Although the Institute does not have the power to award compensation through conciliation it may be possible to broker a settlement between the parties.
If you have a clear idea of what would be required to resolve your grievance set this out clearly in your original complaint. If your accountant is prepared to take the steps you have outlined or suggest satisfactory alternatives, the Institute will try to resolve the matter without using its formal disciplinary procedures.
Although most accountants come recommended, as with any profession, you may be unlucky enough to come across a charlatan. If you are still deciding where to take your business, and the accountant you are considering isn’t well known, it may be an idea to check the Chartered Institute’s register to make sure that they are qualified and that they have not been struck off. This information is readily given to customers.