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What do I want with a Chartered Accountant?

Chances are - you don't. 

There's a lot of ballyhoo put about to the effect that in order to keep HMRC at bay you need to engage a Chartered Accountant to look after your affairs.  Curiously, most if not all of this noise is made by Chartered Accountants themselves, the ones with most to gain from it.

What is a Chartered Accountant?

He (or she) left University with a completely irrelevant degree.  It might be in ancient Sanskrit, Hebrew mythology or the history of Derbyshire County Cricket Club.  Doesn't matter, all he has to do is demonstrate that he can pass exams.  A relevant degree is a big turn-off to big accountancy firms, the candidate has to unlearn all the nonsense they stuffed into him at University.  A bit like learning to drive, say, in Calcutta and expecting to be able to pass your test here.

His employers will put him through a three-year course, carefuly structured to give a restricted range of very straightforward and clinical experience whilst at the same time giving him six months off to study and take exams.

Many of these exams are in subjects totally irrelevant to you.  Trusts, international law, mergers and demergers - you get the idea.  Your newly-fledged Chartered Accountant has an exposure to the world you and I inhabit of approximately ZERO.  He's been studying for three years subjects of no importance whatever to you, and knows nothing about how to convert your records into credible accounts.

What can he do that we can't?  Well, he can sign off your limited company audit report.  Frankly if you're that big that you need an audit then you're probably either too big for us to handle or about to become too big.  Oh, and he can give you advice on investments and pensions, subjects that we want nothing to do with.

Apart from that?  Nothing!

So ask yourself - do you need a Chartered Accountant?   Chances are you don't, so do yourself a favour and don't fall for their sales pitch!