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What is the ICAEW Practice Assurance scheme?

Our PA scheme provides ICAEW member firms and practising certificate holders with a framework of principles-based quality assurance standards to operate to. It outlines procedures to follow with your clients, and how to maintain the highest quality of work and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations, eg, those relating to anti-money laundering and protection of client data.

For the clients of our firms and members who operate under the PA scheme, it gives them reassurance that they will receive a high quality level of service.

The PA scheme combines the Practice Assurance Regulations (which sets out how the PA scheme operates) and the Practice Assurance Standards. Additional regulations apply if these ICAEW members and firms also carry out regulated work eg, audit, insolvency and probate services.

To ensure compliance with the PA scheme, a very experienced team of ICAEW reviewers monitors the 12,000 firms that operate within the scheme. The focus of these Practice Assurance monitoring reviews is to make sure the correct policies and procedures are in place to comply with the PA scheme. These reviews are not technical reviews of the work of our firms and members.

On occasion, our reviewers may undercover an issue. These are reported to the Practice Assurance Committee for review and consideration of next steps. Depending on the severity of the issue, the Committee will either provide feedback to the member or firm to help them improve their compliance and practice procedures. Or, the Committee will require the member or firm to take remedial action to address our concerns, for example, in relation to the handling of clients’ money or the firm’s compliance with the requirements of the Money Laundering Regulations.

If the concerns are serious or persistent, the committee can take disciplinary action or refer the firm to the ICAEW Professional Conduct Department for further investigation.

As with all ICAEW Professional Standards committees, at least half of the Practice Assurance committee are lay members, ie, someone who is not or never has been a member, affiliate or employee of ICAEW or any other accountancy body.

The Practice Assurance Committee is overseen by the independent ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB) which has oversight of all the Professional Standards committees as well as the regulatory and disciplinary functions of Professional Standards Department. This governance structure ensures we carry out our role of maintaining the highest professional and ethical standards within the accountancy profession in a proportionate, accountable, consistent, transparent and focused manner.

ICAEW member firms are automatically monitored under the PA scheme. Firms that aren't automatically supervised by ICAEW but are within the scope of MLR17, can apply to ICAEW to join the PA scheme and register for anti-money laundering supervision.