- Members have a number of obligations as a result of their membership with CA ANZ such as continuing professional development and professional indemnity insurance.
- Another requirement is to deal properly with client monies, in accordance with the relevant standards.
- Failure to comply with these obligations can result in referral of the member to the Professional Conduct Committee for investigation.
From observing trust account regulations to ensuring they have the correct requirements for work performed for the public, CAs are expected to pay close attention to Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand compliance obligations.
“Members have a number of obligations as a result of their membership with CA ANZ,” says Kate Dixon, CA ANZ Australian conduct and discipline manager. “They matter because they are intrinsic to how CA ANZ and NZICA regulate the membership, and are part of ensuring our members maintain appropriate professional standards.”
If members don’t comply, CA ANZ or New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) will investigate. In worst-case scenarios, a member may have their membership terminated or suspended.
“Ultimately, a failure to comply will result in significantly more complications and costs than when members ensure they have done what they are supposed to do,” she says.
“Ultimately, a failure to comply will result in significantly more complications and costs than when members ensure they have done what they are supposed to do.”
Licensed to practise
CA ANZ New Zealand conduct leader Rebecca Stickney says it is important to understand whether you need a Certificate of Public Practice (CPP) because this is required when providing public accountancy services to the public. If members don’t comply with the requirements, they could be taking serious risks. “This is a public interest issue and ensures members are equipped to provide services to the public.”
Stickney says members justify their failure to comply for several reasons, none of which are acceptable.
“They may think that the scale of their business doesn’t warrant a CPP, or perhaps they’re performing accounting work just for friends and family, while employed in other jobs. If this is the case, they should check whether they need a CPP.”
Keeping up to date
Members are also required to comply with continuing professional development (CPD) obligations and Stickney says the disciplinary bodies may look at this as part of an investigation.
“Often, there is a lack of appropriate CPD relative to the area in which a member is operating. If there are competency concerns identified in a specific area, such as an audit or insolvency, and a member is not complying with assurance or insolvency standards,” says Stickney, “we may request their CPD records and assess to what extent they’ve been keeping up.”
Members are also required to have professional indemnity insurance to cover the scope of the work they offer. Stickney says at times, members might not recognise that they need insurance.
“Some members decide they can’t afford it, but in fact, if you are in public practice, you cannot afford not to have insurance”.
Up for review
From time to time, those in public practice are also required to submit to a quality and practice review. This assesses whether members have quality management systems in place designed to achieve compliance with the code of ethics, other mandatory standards, and legal and regulatory requirements. Members must comply with all quality and practice review requirements.
Stickney says approaching a quality and practice review with the right attitude is in a member’s best interest. This includes being communicative and honest.
“It is not appropriate to doctor information or, even if you have inadequately maintained files, attempt to fix them up before the review takes place, particularly if there are mandatory file completion timeframes, such as under the assurance standards.”
At times, members can feel stressed by the process, but Stickney says members shouldn’t be afraid of a quality and practice review.
“A primary aim of the process is to be educative. We want members to succeed in practice and to provide the best services that they can to their clients, and to maintain the status and respect that CAs have in the community.”
“We want members to succeed in practice and to provide the best services that they can to their clients, and to maintain the status and respect that CAs have in the community.”
Stickney says that cases have been referred to the disciplinary bodies where members have failed to engage with the practice and quality review process in a timely or constructive way.
“While latitude will often be given to members in that process if there are extenuating circumstances in their professional or personal life, they are ultimately required to comply with it. The disciplinary bodies take a dim view when this does not occur, even if there are no significant competency shortcomings identified.”
Dixon says that members are also required to deal properly with client monies, in accordance with the relevant standards.
Failure to comply with these obligations can result in referral of the member to the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) for investigation. Such an investigation can be time consuming for the member. It can also be costly, as the disciplinary bodies are empowered to require members to pay the costs of the investigation and any subsequent disciplinary action.
Failure to comply with liability capping obligations can also lead to disciplinary outcomes. Dixon recalls a case where a member’s failure to comply with these obligations resulted in the disciplinary tribunal terminating membership.
Dixon says that “If you’ve had your membership terminated for failure to comply, you will have a disciplinary record, which may have ongoing implications. If you’re applying for a registration or a licence for example, you may be required to declare your disciplinary record.”
Stickney says these cases can come to CA ANZ and NZICA’s attention in different ways. “One is through our own monitoring and regulatory activities. In other cases, it is identified as a result of a complaint from the public, regulators or members.”
Dixon says an ongoing refusal to comply with membership requirements is serious because ultimately, the disciplinary bodies may regard that as being incompatible with membership.
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