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Insolvency monitoring

The Quality Assurance Department (QAD) conducts insolvency monitoring visits to ICAEW appointment-taking insolvency practitioners.

Online annual return

The online annual return is an integral part of ICAEW’s regulatory relationship with firms. There is a dedicated section of the return for information about the firm's insolvency practitioners and their work.

Insolvency monitoring

The Memorandum of Understanding and the Principles for Monitoring agreed between the Insolvency Service and the recognised professional bodies (RPBs) underpin the insolvency licensing and monitoring regime.

The Memorandum of Understanding establishes the requirement for RPBs to monitor their insolvency licence holders and the Principles for Monitoring set out criteria which the RPBs need to consider in their monitoring processes.

Monitoring cycle

With the exception of IPs in larger insolvency practices (which have a significant number of IPs and dedicated compliance teams), we aim to see all our IPs on a three-year cycle. 

We visit IPs in the larger practices over a six-year cycle, but visit some IPs in their firm each year. 

We may select you for an earlier monitoring visit if you have a high volume of cases, or if there are other risk factors which suggest that an earlier visit might be appropriate, such as a high number of complaints. 

We visit our IPs in volume IVA operations more frequently.

New licence holders

If you’re a new licence holder, or have recently transferred your licence to ICAEW, you will be invited to a New IP Roadshow. These events are usually held in the first quarter of each year. 

At the roadshow we outline the regulatory framework, explain what you can expect from a monitoring visit and share findings from our recent visits, so you can take steps to avoid them. 

Your attendance at the roadshow will be followed by a phone call with a QAD reviewer. The reviewer will discuss your caseload; the technical and compliance support available to you; and your plans for an insolvency compliance review (ICR) or, if you’ve already had an ICR, the findings from that review. The reviewer will document the matters discussed and ask you to confirm their understanding.

The timing of your first on-site visit will depend on the business environment in which you’re working, and your caseload. 

If you’re in a firm whose IPs we have reviewed recently, or whose systems we know, your first monitoring visit will take place any time in the three years after your first appointment. 

If, however, you’ve set up a new practice, or are working in a practice where we have no regulatory experience, your visit is likely to be much earlier. IPs in new practices find an early visit useful, especially as their systems are often still being developed, and they can benefit from our reviewers’ experience at other practices.

Follow-up calls

If your previous visit was referred to ICAEW’s Insolvency Licensing Committee (ILC), you'll get a follow-up phone call around 18 months after your previous visit. 

In this call the reviewer will discuss:
  • any changes within the practice since your last visit;
  • the issues at the time of your last monitoring visit and how they have been addressed;
  • issues from your latest ICR.

After the call, the reviewer will document the matters discussed and ask you to confirm their understanding. There won’t be any formal correspondence after that.

Your monitoring visit

What you can expect from our on-site visit

We’ll contact you by phone to agree a date for your on-site monitoring visit; this will generally be six to twelve weeks before the visit. During this call we’ll aim to get a brief overview of the work you’re dealing with, in terms of approximate case numbers and case types. We’ll also discuss your last ICR; when it was done, who carried it out and the key issues arising. 

Most of our insolvency visits will just look at your insolvency work. But if you’re in a member firm that falls within ICAEW’s Practice Assurance (PA) scheme, and all of your work is insolvency-related, we may combine your insolvency and PA visits. If your visit will include PA, the reviewer will let you know.

We’ll send you formal confirmation of the visit, by letter. Our letter will ask you to provide certain information about your case portfolio ahead of the visit. This will include an analysis of your case load. We will tell you in the letter when you need to provide this information. We generally need it a fortnight before the visit. If you have any questions when collating the information, please contact the reviewer.

The reviewer will phone you around a week before the visit to discuss any matters they may have identified from your pre-visit information and to answer any questions you may have.

Opening meeting

Your visit will start with an opening meeting which will last between one and two hours, depending on the size of your firm and the scope of the visit. This is our opportunity to find out about your practice, your procedures and controls and your staff. You can invite other members of staff (such as those involved in compliance work) to join you if you want to or think this would be helpful. 

If you have any particular concerns, we will be happy to discuss them with you at this point.

Visit fieldwork

We then review a sample of case files. Some reviews will cover entire cases; others may focus on certain areas. 

We may also review one or more cases that were covered in your most recent ICR as we want to test the robustness of the review. We will also want to follow up on some of the issues raised in the most recent ICR by looking at specific areas on more recent cases.  

After we've reviewed each case, we’ll give you details of the areas we want to discuss with you.

Closing meeting

When we've reviewed all the cases and discussed our questions with you, we will summarise our findings and then discuss them with you at a closing meeting. The purpose of the closing meeting is to: 

  • agree the findings from the visit; and 
  • discuss your initial thoughts on how to address them. 

Although we will be as open as possible with you about the likely outcome of your visit, please bear in mind that our visits are subject to quality control review. The final decision could rest with the Insolvency Licensing Committee (ILC).

Your response

We will ask you to send us your written response to our findings within 15 business days, by email. 

Your responses are an important part of the visit process so please take care when you draft them. Be specific and refer to any actions you have already taken, or plan to take, and set out the timescale for your actions. 

We find that most IPs are able to respond to our findings within this period but please contact the reviewer if you need more time.

After the visit

Once we've received and reviewed your responses, we can finalise the visit. 

If we have nothing to report to the ILC, we’ll write to you and confirm that your visit is concluded. Visits may be concluded without referral to the ILC if you've already dealt with the matters raised, or if we're satisfied with the actions you have proposed. 

We may need to report matters to the ILC if we think that follow-up or regulatory action may be appropriate. If that’s the case, colleagues in our Professional Conduct Department will send you a copy of our report, for your comment, before the ILC sees it.

Do you combine insolvency and Practice Assurance monitoring visits?

For those firms where insolvency is the only regulated activity, we will usually combine an insolvency monitoring visit with a Practice Assurance review visit. This is to make the visit process as efficient as possible.

For combined visits, the reviewer prepares separate sets of closing meeting findings for each area to ensure that any issues are clearly identified and separately reported to the appropriate committee. 

How can I give you my feedback?

After your visit, please fill in the anonymous and confidential feedback questionnaire and return it in the pre-paid envelope. Although the questionnaire is voluntary, we strongly encourage you to complete this form as your comments will help us assess and improve the visit process. If you would like another copy of the questionnaire, please contact your reviewer.

How do I pay compliments or make a complaint?

If you would like to comment on any part of the visit process that went well or could be improved, please write to the director, QAD, or, if your comments are about the director, QAD, please write to the chief executive at:

ICAEW
Chartered Accountants' Hall
PO Box 433
Moorgate Place
London
EC2P 2BJ

There is a formal process for handling complaints. As soon as we receive a complaint, we will send you an acknowledgement. We may ask you for further information so that we can conduct a proper enquiry and, if necessary, we will arrange a meeting with you. We will review your complaint within 14 days or within 14 days of receiving any additional information. If we need more time, we will let you know. At the end of this period, we will write with our conclusion.