Making a complaint
How to make a complaint against an IFA member
As a condition of membership all IFA members are subject to the IFA’s investigation and disciplinary process for alleged breaches of the IFA Bye-laws, professional and ethical standards.
The IFA will take disciplinary action where there is sufficient evidence of a failure to observe the standards expected of our members. However, the IFA has no power to award compensation or any other monetary settlement.
If you wish to make a complaint against a member the IFA, you can either complete the complaints form online or download and complete the hard copy version of the complaints form and send it, with supporting evidence relevant to your complaint (e.g., letters, copies of emails, agreements) to:
Disciplinary Case Manager
Institute of Financial Accountants
CS111, Clerkenwell Workshops
27-31 Clerkenwell Close
London EC1R 0AT
In order to avoid unnecessary delays please state clearly on the complaints form how the evidence relates to the complaint.
How we deal with complaints
The IFA aims to be transparent in its handling of complaints against members. This means that the IFA shares evidence and information provided by both sides between the parties. All information and case reports will also be shared with the IFA disciplinary team, the Conduct Committees and, where appropriate, with other regulators. Our complaints form asks a complainant to give us positive consent to copy papers received in this way. A complainant’s failure to consent to the circulation of evidence will, in most cases, prevent the investigation of their complaint.
We will also publish the outline details (including the member’s name and address) of most adverse findings reached by the conduct committees. Nevertheless, the written decisions of the conduct committees are confidential to those involved and are not for wider circulation.
When we receive a complaint, we will:
- Send copies of the complaint and supporting documentation to the member and ask for comments.
- Ask you and the IFA member for further information, as appropriate.
Once we receive comments from you and the member, your complaint, together with a case report and the supporting documentation will be passed to the IFA's independent investigations committee.
You and the IFA member will receive copies of the case report and documentation sent to the investigations committee. When the investigations committee has enough information to make a decision, it can either:
- dismiss the complaint;
- offer a consent order caution or reprimand (with a fine/costs); or
- refer the complaint to the IFA's disciplinary committee for a full hearing.
It can take many months to deal with a complaint, especially if it is complicated or technical.
We will endeavour to deal with each stage of the disciplinary proceedings as quickly and efficiently as possible. In order to do this, we normally ask everyone involved to respond to our letters or emails within 14-21 working days.
We will provide you with updates in writing regarding your complaint.
Whilst we can take disciplinary action where there is sufficient evidence of a failure to observe the standards expected of our members, this will not necessarily resolve every dispute or problem you might have with the member.
For example, the IFA does not investigate complaints relating to fees or commercial disputes, or disputes which should be dealt with via other mechanisms. Issues relating to law and related areas lie within the jurisdiction of the courts or other tribunals.
In these circumstances, and where you would like to compel the member to carry out a particular course of action to resolve the problem, you may need to consider legal action or alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Due to the costs involved, going to court is generally a last resort. Organisations which could assist with ADR, whether conciliation, mediation or arbitration include:
- ADR Group
- Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
- Chartered Trading Standards Institute
- Citizens Advice Bureau
For complaints against non-IFA members
Please note that the IFA cannot take disciplinary action against someone who is not a member of the IFA. If you need to check whether someone is an IFA member before you make your complaint please contact our membership department at [email protected] giving the accountant's full name and address.
If you wish to make a complaint against an accountant who is not a member of the IFA we recommend you contact their professional body to take this forward. If they are not a member of any professional body we suggest you seek legal advice.