The ICAEW Business Advice Service (BAS) is to promote ICAEW Chartered Accountants as the first source of financial and business advice to entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses
Firms in the ICAEW Business Advice Service (BAS) will offer an initial consultation at no charge to start-ups and SMEs, preparing them and their business to succeed.
To register your office/firm to the ICAEW Business Advice Service (BAS), please email us to join BAS.
Under the ICAEW Business Advice Service (BAS), start-ups and SMEs will be encouraged to consult an ICAEW Chartered Accountant over the issues facing their business.
The Business Advice Service aims to promote ICAEW Chartered Accountants as the first source of financial and business advice to entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses; to help develop local economies and small businesses; whilst demonstrating to the Government our public interest role in supporting private-sector led economic growth.
A practice in the ICAEW Business Advice Service (BAS) will offer SMEs and start-ups an initial meeting at no charge to discuss the client’s business needs.
The ICAEW Business Advice Service has been set up to promote ICAEW Chartered Accountants as the first source of financial and business advice to entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses; to help develop local economies and small businesses; whilst demonstrating to the Government our public interest role in supporting private-sector led economic growth.
Firms in the ICAEW Business Advice Service will offer an initial consultation at no charge to SMEs and start-ups, and advise them on their business needs.
ICAEW strongly promotes the value that its firms can provide to business and in particular raising awareness of the need for businesses to ensure they are getting expert advice from qualified business advisers.
We have deliberately decided that no time limit should be set for the initial consultation. In some cases, the meetings may be over very quickly; others may take some time. You should judge the duration of the meeting depending on the nature of the enquiry. You should devote as much time as is necessary to offer the client some value from the meeting.
Most firms offer an initial consultation at no charge with a potential client. However, many SMEs and start-ups are wary of asking for professional advice in case they are charged from the outset. Under the ICAEW Business Advice Service (BAS), it would be made clear that no financial commitment is made by the SME in the first instance. We believe this will encourage SMEs and start-ups to seek support from an ICAEW Chartered Accountant rather than resorting to unqualified alternatives.
You may consider that many of the businesses approaching you through the ICAEW Business Advice Service (BAS) come into a low risk category, for example where they are locally based small businesses, with a clear and easily understood business model and structure and little chance of being used for criminal purposes. In these cases, the kind of third party documentation that a potential client might well bring anyway to a business consultancy meeting may be sufficient, such as bank statements or contract correspondence with large or public bodies.
Alternatively, firms could seek electronic identification confirmation.
Indicators of a higher risk category might include an obscure ownership structure, a high-turnover cash business (such as pubs and clubs) or links with foreign jurisdictions with a difficult reputation. More than one form of independent identification information will be needed for these, and of as high a standard as is easily obtainable. Hopefully, though, even this will not be too difficult, given the wide range of sources of reasonably reliable independent evidence that are available.
The rules are not different for BAS enquirers or other clients, though BAS ones may be of slightly higher risk as they are less likely to be introduced through existing clients. You should have sensible procedures for all client acceptance and risk assessment.
One element of standard procedures could be to require referral to your firm’s MLRO or another senior person, in relation to acceptance of any higher risk client. However, as all citizens get more and more used to having to proffer a passport and utility bill to their bank, whenever changing their banking arrangements, they become more likely to be perfectly willing to offer these to professional advisers as well. If a client of any risk profile comes into the office with their passport and utility bill ready to present, it would not be wise to refuse them.
So you are advised that with BAS enquiries you should follow normal ICAEW guidance regarding customer due diligence requirements.
For further information go to www.icaew.com/moneylaundering or ring the members enquiry Money Laundering Helpline on +44 (0)1908 248250.
Not at this stage but you must set out in writing details of your fees, details of the individual to whom complaints should be addressed and the rights of users of the service to complain to the ICAEW. This is required by the Code of Ethics and the Bye-laws respectively. This can be done simply in a standard note setting out the service you are providing (before the meeting) under this scheme (please feel free to copy and paste) as follows:
'The services provided under the ICAEW Business Advice Service (BAS) are free of charge. If you subsequently become a client of this firm we will discuss our usual charges with you.
In the meantime if you are in any way dissatisfied with the service you receive from us please address your concerns to (insert appropriate name and title). If you are still not satisfied you have the right to raise the matter with the ICAEW'.
There is also some information that is required to be disclosed by the Provision of Services Regulations. It is likely that this information is already included on your website, letterhead or brochure but you can find out more about these requirements in the practice helpsheet: Services Directive.
If you need further guidance, please call the Advisory Helpline on +44 (0)1908 248250.
If you follow normal client acceptance procedures your Professional Indemnity Insurance should cover you for BAS enquiries. If you have any concerns check your PII policy and, if in doubt, contact your PII insurers.
Following the initial meeting, the SME or start-up is free to end its association with your firm. On the other hand, it is quite possible that a number of business issues will have been identified which your firm can assist with. If that it is the case, the SME or start-up may decide to employ your firm as advisers at a commercial rate agreed between the two of you.
We would expect that the main areas of interest among SMEs and start-ups will be around starting a business, taxation, financial management, access to finance and turnaround and restructuring. However there is no reason why enquiries should be limited to these areas.
You will need to find out if the business has an accountant acting for them and also whether or not they have already sought advice on the issue they are consulting you about. The following table shows the relevant steps to take depending on the circumstances.
|What should I do?||Code of Ethics reference|
|No on-going relationship with an accountant||Nothing.||Code of Ethics s210|
|Existing accountant but no advice given on the subject matter you are being consulted on under the scheme.||You are not obliged to contact the accountant but may choose to do so – e.g. if you feel you may need information from the accountant in order to carry out your role.||Code of Ethics s210.12|
|Existing accountant who has advised on the subject matter you are being consulted on under the scheme.||This is akin to providing a second opinion and you should contact the existing accountant for information. If the business refuses permission for you to do this you will need to consider whether it is appropriate to act.||Code of Ethics s230|
Whatever the circumstances, if the business subsequently appoints your firm you will need to make contact with the last accountant that acted for the business. (Code of Ethics s210).
For further information, please ring the Advisory Helpline on +44 (0)1908 248250.
You should make enquiries to find out if the business already has an accountant as their adviser. The existing accountant may need to be consulted in accordance with sections 210 and 230 of the Code of Ethics.
To register your office/firm please sign up here
If you have any queries please email the BAS team: email@example.com or call +44 (0)20 7920 3561.
There is no charge to list your firm in the ICAEW Business Advice Service.
The Business Advice Service offers one initial meeting at no charge to discuss any one of a range of business issues. The SME Funding Adviser Scheme allows practices to indicate specific advice they offer on any one or more of 10 specialisms of business finance. There is no commitment to offer advice at no charge under the SME Funding Adviser Scheme.
All firms that have already signed up to BAS receive a free starter pack of marketing materials to help them promote their practice. These include flyers, window stickers, web banners and a booklet promoting why a business should use an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.
No. This is an additional directory listing and does not affect any other listings of your firm.
The service launched in September 2011.
You can amend and update your entry by logging into your account, if you have any enquiries regarding your listing contact the member enquiries team: firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)1908 248 250.
We hope you will agree the ICAEW Business Advice Service is a valuable new method of supporting SMEs and start-ups and demonstrating the value of ICAEW Chartered Accountants. We also hope that your firm will agree to participate in the service.
Once you do so, we will add the BAS symbol beside your firm’s entry on Find a Chartered Accountant. We will send you an acknowledgement of your entry and will follow this up with publicity material you can use to promote your participation in the ICAEW Business Advice Service.