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Chartered Accountant vs. Certified Public Accountant: Common myths and differences answered

When it comes to accountants, this is often a subject of confusion for many businesses looking for an accountant; What is the difference? Which one does my business need? Is one better than the other?

Here we explain the differences between the two as well as common misconceptions.


The main difference between a Chartered and Certified Public Accountant is the organisation with which the accountant is affiliated.

· Chartered Accountants will have their qualifications awarded by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW). You may notice that Chartered accountants will typically have ACA or FCA after their name.

· Certified Public Accountants will be awarded their qualifications by the Certified Public Accountants Association. After these members names will be ACPA (Associate) or after 5 years FCPA (Fellow of the Association).

Audit of Limited Companies

An audit is an in-depth review and analysis of accounting records and bank accounts.

Legally this needs to be carried out by a registered auditor, which is not covered by Certified Public Accountants.

Common misconceptions

Misconception: Only a Chartered Accountant can make submissions to HMRC

FALSE! Any accountant registered with HMRC, with the right software, can make these submissions.

Misconception: Chartered Accountants charge more as they are the prominent experts in accounting

It is quite often viewed that Chartered Accountants are the ‘experts’ in the accounting world when this is not actually the case. An accountants expertise and values are down to each individual and business, not on their title or name, but in general yes Chartered Accountants charge more.

As a summary, we would advise you to seek value not cost – you don’t always get what you pay for! We have had many new clients that have had problems with previous accountants, who were charging double the price of the job and not doing the work properly which leads to many different problems.

With this in mind, do you think your accountant is doing what is best for you and your business?

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