Institute of Financial Accountants
What the internationally recognised membership body can do for the trusted advisers of small and mid-sized businesses
Company: Institute of Financial Accountants
Based: Burford House, Sevenoaks, Kent
Clients: 10,000 members and students, both UK and International
Who are you?
The Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) is an internationally recognised professional accountancy membership body whose members work within micro and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or in small to medium-sized accounting practices (SMPs), advising micro and SME clients.
What do you do?
The IFA supports more than 10,000 members and students in more than 80 countries with a programme of professional qualifications and education as well as resources, events, training and seminars.
IFA members uphold high standards of conduct, confidentiality and ethics and undertake annual continuing professional development (CPD) activities.
What does that mean in practice?
The IFA help to develop the finance and accountancy functions of SMEs, which represent over 90% of the UK’s economy, and the accountancy practices (SMPs) that advise them. The IFA focuses on accountancy issues, and tax issues through the Federation of Tax Advisers (the FTA), the IFA’s tax faculty.
IFA members are not just accountants; they are people who are professionally qualified, have the depth of knowledge, experience and understanding of the needs and support required by SMEs and can simply be referred to as the “trusted business adviser”.
Consequently, the IFA provides a focused, relevant and practical programme of training and support for its accountancy students and members throughout their careers. This provides them with a competitive advantage to not only operate as an accountant, but also as an entrepreneur/business owner and trusted business adviser.
Why should I care?
“Small and medium sized enterprises really are the unsung heroes of UK business”
Theo Phaphitis – entrepreneur
As a start-up business you may need to appoint an accountant to help provide you with your business planning, in addition to preparing your statutory accounts.
An IFA member is relevant to you and your business as a professional, qualified accountant who specialises within the SME sector. They are accountants that already advise the unsung heroes of UK Business, who have an estimated turnover of £1.6 trillion as they truly understand and can relate to their SME clients.
IFA members can support and help you improve your financial management, so you don’t fall foul of HMRC regulations where non-compliance can result in punitive fines.
What can you do for me that I can’t do for myself?
The IFA is the “The Voice of the SME” in all accountancy, tax and business matters, speaking with authority on related issues that impact on entrepreneurs, smaller businesses and owner-managers.
The IFA provides a unifying voice to represent them in the political and professional arena, through lobbying and influencing decision and policy-makers and the IFA aims to provide that voice.
What mistakes will you stop me from making?
As an internationally recognised professional accountancy membership body, the IFA is committed to the highest ethical and professional standards. Central to this commitment is the uncompromising pursuit of the public interest, where members of the public have confidence in the work, recommendations and conduct of IFA members.
The IFA uphold financial and operational viability, governance, regulatory frameworks, professionalism, ethics and support to its members, which they abide by when working with you as a trusted business adviser.
All IFA members are required to undertake annual continual professional development (CPD) activities and follow the IFA regulations, standards and guidance in their professional business activities, whether carried out with, or without, reward.
If a member does not follow the regulations, standards and guidance they may be subject to the IFA’s disciplinary proceedings.
Why should I trust you?
Over 10,000 members and students benefit from the IFA’s full membership of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), having committed to raising the standards of accounting practice globally. The IFA also regulates its members for the purposes of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, which is recognised by HM Treasury.
The IFA is also formally recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation, the public body responsible for maintaining and monitoring standards for general and vocational qualifications and examinations in England and Wales.
The IFA has developed a strong working relationship with HMRC and continues to work with a plethora of specialist companies to provide the benefits their members and clients are looking for in both a professional and personal capacity.
What will it cost me?
The IFA does not determine the professional fees members charge for the services they provide. They will vary depending on the nature and complexity of the work you wish them to carry out on your behalf.
You should receive an engagement letter from your accountant providing a breakdown of the services and support you will receive, including costs for you to agree and discuss with your accountant before any work is carried out.
How can I join the IFA?
There are three routes to joining the IFA as a member.
1. By qualification
- The IFA’s qualifications are for those who are aiming to become an accountant or who are already working in a SME financial/accountancy role, seeking recognition for the work they do, to enable them to progress within their organisation or elsewhere
- If you are part qualified from another professional membership body such as ACCA and ICAEW
2. By membership of another professional accountancy membership body
IFA membership is available for those who are already members of ICAEW, ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA, ICAS, ICAI and AAT.
Membership of the IFA is also available to other member accountancy bodies of the International Federation of Accountants Body (IFAC)
3. By relevant accountancy experience
Those currently working in the UK in a financial/accountancy capacity may be eligible to gain IFA/FTA membership, subject to their relevant work experience
Your eligibility and level of IFA membership will be based on submission of an initial enquiry form and application form from you requesting further information. More details are available on the IFA website.
If you wish to take a professional accountancy qualification and develop your career as an accountant, please contact the IFA’s Education Department or visit the IFA website for more information.