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ICAEW Regulatory Board

Updated: 12 Oct 2021 Update History

The ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB) is an independent board that is responsible for ensuring ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary work, undertaken by the Professional Standards Department) is carried out in the public interest. It also provides assurance to government, oversight regulators and the public that these tasks are carried out independently and objectively.

About the IRB

The IRB’s primary objective is to ensure ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary work is carried out in the public interest and to provide assurance to government, oversight regulators, media and members of the public that each task is carried out objectively without any bias shown either towards or against the interests of an ICAEW member or firm.

ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary roles are carried out by the Professional Standards Department (PSD). These roles are separate to ICAEW’s other activities so that the PSD can monitor, support or take steps to ensure change if standards are not met.

The IRB also has a wider objective at the heart of its work. This is the quest to promote and maintain the highest professional standards among ICAEW members and firms and for ICAEW to act, and be seen to act, as an improvement regulator. It seeks to ensure that the work of the PSD achieves this by its Regulatory Practice & Policy team (RPP) enabling only appropriately trained and experienced individuals to carry out the highest risk work, and the Quality Assurance team (QAD) pointing out areas for improvement at the end of quality assurance monitoring reviews and running webinars for members and firms on problem areas. There is also an important role to be played by Professional Conduct (PCD) in its work by ensuring that there is an effective deterrent against poor conduct or poor-quality work.

The IRB also has general oversight of the performance of Professional Standards committees. These professional conduct and regulatory committees are not answerable to the IRB for their decisions in individual cases.

The IRB has 12 members, including the chair. For accountancy oversight purposes, it has an equal number of lay and non-lay members. A lay member is someone who is not, and has never been, a member, affiliate or employee of ICAEW or any accountancy body. For legal services oversight purposes, it has a lay majority where a lay member is someone who is not legally qualified.

The accountancy members of the IRB have different backgrounds and specialisms including audit, insolvency and tax. They provide the perspective and insight not only as members in practice but also as members working in business. Many of the lay members have significant experience in other regulated sectors. The combination of technical experts and lay representatives ensures a broad range of views and insights while keeping the public interest at the centre of the IRB’s work.

The current IRB chair is a lay member, Jenny Watson CBE.

The appointment, performance evaluations and remuneration of chairs and members of the IRB are dealt with by the Regulatory & Conduct Appointments Committee (RACAC). The RACAC reports to the IRB on its activities but is independent of the IRB.

ICAEW Regulatory Board appoints new Chair

The ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB) has announced the appointment of Jenny Watson CBE as its new lay chair from 1 November 2021.

Regulation and conduct through difficult times: IRB Annual Report 2020

The IRB Annual Report 2020 highlights the hard work and efforts to maintain minimal disruption to ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary work, despite the most unusual of years.

The Professional Standards Department (PSD) has adapted and responded to the many challenges thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic and the multiple lockdowns.

The operational report on pages 5-8 explains how the PSD was able to move all its functions smoothly online which has resulted in minimal disruption to regulatory and disciplinary work. They have achieved a balance between being sympathetic to difficulties being experienced by members and firms due to the lockdown and the expectations of ICAEW members and firms to maintain the same high professional standards.

The IRB was also quick to adapt to the pandemic and all the IRB members committed additional time during 2020 to respond to the unique circumstances impacting ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary work.

Despite the pandemic, 2020 was a busy year in the main areas regulated by ICAEW and you will find a summary of matters considered in anti-money laundering (AML), audit, insolvency and legal services in the regulatory summaries set out on pages 9, 12, 13 and 14.

There have also been a number of key areas of focus for the IRB during 2020, including the supervision of the implementation of our AML strategy and our continuing work on improving communications and awareness of the work of the PSD and the IRB. You can see the progress made in each of these on pages 9 and 11.

ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB) response to the BEIS consultation ‘Restoring trust in audit and corporate governance’

We welcome many of the proposals in the Consultation Document. Our main concern is that it does not sufficiently recognise the significant level of independent oversight already exercised by the ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB) over the member conduct and disciplinary functions of ICAEW.

We believe that, working closely together with ARGA, we can continue to provide an extremely effective audit and accountancy oversight regime. This would enable ARGA to concentrate on the other areas of oversight where enhancement is required, particularly where significant public interest concerns have been identified.

Establishment of the IRB

The IRB was established in 2015 (meeting for the first time in 2016) to enhance the distinction between ICAEW’s representative and regulatory roles following an independent review of ICAEW’s regulatory governance.

The IRB superseded the Professional Standards Board. To enforce the principle of independence within ICAEW’s governance structure which separates regulatory and membership activities, ICAEW office holders, ICAEW Board and council members are not allowed to sit on the IRB or regulatory and disciplinary committees. 

IRB board members

The current IRB board members are:

Jenny Watson CBE Chair
Lay member
Philip Nicol-Gent Philip Nicol-Gent Vice-Chair
Lay member
Steve Barrow Steve Barrow Alternate Chair
Parjinder Basra Parjinder Basra Lay member
Andrew Goldsworthy Andrew Goldsworthy Non-lay member
 Ian Leigh Thomas Palm Non-lay member
 Asif Patel Asif Patel Non-lay member
 Anthony Pygram

Anthony Pygram

 Lay member
Michael Sufrin Michael Sufrin Non-lay member
Jane Titley Jane Titley Non-lay member
 Jonathan Williams  Jonathan Williams  Non-lay member
Ann Wright Ann Wright Lay member

Outgoing IRB Chair - Michael Caplan QC 

Terms of Reference

The IRB’s terms of reference set out the role and responsibilities of the IRB and contains practical information on how the IRB operates, for example its quorum. The terms of reference also detail the powers delegated to the IRB and the powers the IRB itself has delegated to other committees.

IRB meeting agendas, papers and minutes

Visit our dedicated page for meeting dates, related papers and records of decisions

Further information

Regulation and conduct through difficult times

PDF (1,584kb)

Read the IRB Annual Report 2020.