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Practice Assurance - standards and regulations

Practice Assurance (PA) provides members in practice with a framework of quality assurance principles to help them assess and develop their practices, offering practical support and advice.

Useful resources for Practice Assurance firms

Clients’ money reminder

If your firm holds clients’ money, make sure you carry out an annual compliance review and that you have bank trust letters in place. Several firms we have visited recently did not have these in place. For more information about how to manage clients’ money accounts see: icaew.com/clients-money-faqs

Practice Assurance Essentials 

A summary of best practice suggestions and essential actions for your firm, using key findings from Practice Assurance reviews. 

Practice Assurance reviews – large firms 2015

We have looked at the practice review processes and procedures for the unregulated work of 17 large firms (with a turnover of over £10m) and compared them. This report sets out the results of that comparison.

Guidance for probate firms - this guidance will help your firm manage the quality and risk of your probate and estate administration work.

Practice Assurance standards

There are four principles-based standards:

  • Laws, regulations and professional standards
  • Client acceptance and disengagement
  • Competence
  • Quality control

These set out the quality assurance principles for firms to assess and improve their practices.

Practice Assurance regulations

Members who hold a practising certificate are required to comply with the Practice Assurance regulations. These set out how the PA scheme operates.

Guidance on good practice

We've produced extensive guidance on good practice based on

  • our reviews over several years
  • questions that practitioners ask and
  • feedback from the Practice Assurance Committee.
Setting up a new firm

There are lots of things to consider and put in place when you're setting up a new firm. New firms - common pitfalls is for practitioners who have recently registered a new firm. It identifies common areas on which practitioners ask for clarification and guidance.

Changes in firm structure – please tell us within 10 business days

It’s important to maintain your firm record accurately. An inaccurate or out of date firm record may constitute a misdescription of your firm. It could also lead to regulatory or disciplinary action.

Practice Assurance – what you need to know webinar

If you are setting up in practice, preparing for an ICAEW monitoring visit or would like to update your knowledge on the regulations, this webinar sets out the fundamentals of Practice Assurance. The webinar is split into chapters so you can select which sections you watch when it’s convenient to you. In addition to watching the webinar, you can download the webinar slides for reference.

Annual return and monitoring

Firms are required to comply with the four principles-based standards. We monitor firms using an annual return and reviews. Visit our online annual return page for more information and guidance including frequently asked questions. If we identify issues when we process returns, we contact firms and offer practical help and support to resolve them rather than waiting until they are discovered during the course of a review.

Our monitoring team has a wealth of experience:

  • 98% of firms said they were either very satisfied or satisfied with their review in terms of process management.
  • 90% of firms said the reviewer were very technically competent and provided useful help and guidance. 
Your firm's monitoring review

Our Quality Assurance team conducts monitoring reviews of firms that fall within the scope of the Practice Assurance (PA) scheme. Your review will reassure you that your firm is meeting:

  • the requirements of the PA standards;
  • other relevant regulations; and
  • the ICAEW Code of Ethics.

You will also have the opportunity to discuss any other matters regarding your firm with our experienced reviewer.

Depending on the size of your firm, your review will take place at your office or over the phone. We may continue to monitor your firm’s compliance with the PA standards through a desk top review using information you send us. We will contact you by letter or email to tell you which type of review we propose. Most of the firms we review are selected on a random basis over a cycle of four or eight years depending on their size. Some reviews may result from an analysis of the firm’s annual return or because information has come to our attention (such as recent complaints).

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