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Don’t be caught out - Bookkeeping is Essential

Our business is properly registered as a practising accountancy business and complies with our Institute rules. However, I've had several people ask me if bookkeeping is part of a regulated profession? The short answer to this question is 'Yes'. But why? I hear you cry.

Well for a start you must be aware of organised crime as a battlefield, there will be many ways of waging war against the criminal underworld and conspiracies. The police and other serious crime agencies will be at the back, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting criminal once they have the information they need to arrest and charge them. Auditors and accountants will generally be somewhere in the middle, unless they've been asked to give specific advice at a time in the financial year when they wouldn't ordinarily get to see the accounting records.

And finally, the front line will be made up of tax and financial advisers along with the bookkeepers, dealing with the day to day finances and attempting to ascertain why unusual or large amounts of money are being moved about and high value personal assets are being purchased. If bookkeepers, along with every other adviser dealing with a client’s financial affairs, notice suspicious activity then it must be reported to the National Crime Agency. They are obliged to do this by law.

What does this mean for you and your business? Bookkeepers who offer outsourced accounting services must be supervised by either HMRC or by their membership body with whom they hold their practice licence. We must carry out a risk assessment and due diligence on the clients we engage and act for, ensuring that we understand the risks we may open ourselves up to with some clients we may work for, especially when money is exchanged with high risk countries.

For companies, business owners will be assured that the bookkeeper they engage is highly qualified, has a commitment to continuing their professional development and is of good standing - we must be DBS checked for Schedule 3 convictions, which include money laundering, fraud and dishonesty. This is renewed every year at great length and due diligence to ensure we do comply.

HMRC guidance is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance...

What should you do now? If you outsource your accounts to an accountant or bookkeeper then you should make sure that they hold a practice licence with a recognised association or institute, hold the correct level of indemnity insurance and that they are being supervised for Anti Money Laundering Regulations.

If they don't, then it's up to you to either find out why and encourage them to seek membership or find another provider who does. It makes no sense not to protect your business. If you need some advice with this then please don't hesitate to ask us at Stellar Tax.

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