IFA bye-laws and regulations

Our reputation rests on that of our members, students, affiliates, member firms and contracted firms. IFA’s regulatory framework helps to protect the public by making sure our members, students, affiliates, member firms and contracted firms maintain the highest ethical and professional standards and conduct.  

Through its regulatory, compliance and supervisory functions the IFA monitors adherence with these standards and will support and take action through its independent disciplinary function if the standards are not met. 

Articles

The Articles effective from 1 January 2018 set out how the IFA is to operate, including the limited liability of members, application for (and termination of) membership, directors’ powers, responsibilities, appointment and termination, and the conduct of Board meetings and General Meetings.

Articles of Association effective from 1 January 2018 

Bye-laws

The Bye-laws content covers eligibility and cessation for members, students, recognition and registration of member firms, IFA’s jurisdiction over member firms and affiliates, fees and subscriptions, liability to disciplinary action, regulations made under the bye-laws, fitness and propriety and serving of formal notices by the IFA. The detailed requirements are set out in regulations, which makes those requirements more responsive to change.

Bye-laws effective from 1 January 2021. 

Bye-laws effective from 1 September 2019.

Code of Ethics

IFA's Code of Ethics (the Code) helps members, students and member firms meet their  professional obligations by providing them with ethical guidance. It is based on the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants of the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) published by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).  

The Code sets out five fundamental principles, which guide members’ behaviour:

  1. Integrity
  2. Objectivity
  3. Professional competence and due care
  4. Confidentiality
  5. Professional behaviour.

Members, member firms and students are responsible for assessing threats to complying with those principles and for implementing safeguards where those threats are significant. The Code includes a number of sections covering situations that members, students and/or member firms might be likely to encounter and suggests, or in some cases, requires, specific courses of action.

Code of Ethics effective from 1 March 2020.

Membership, member firms, affiliates and student regulations

The membership regulations include the detailed requirements that relate to a member’s rights and responsibilities and obligations for member firms, affiliates and students. 

Membership, member firms, affiliates and student regulations effective from 1 January 2021.

Public practice regulations 

The IFA requires all members and member firms in public practice to adhere to the public practice regulations. If you are a member acting or holding yourself out to be a principal in a firm engaged in public practice, you are required to have a IFA practising certificate.

The public practice regulations set out the need to hold a practising certificate, unless the member is practising outside the UK, Channel Islands and IoM. The regulations include the meaning of public practice (which excludes honorary work), eligibility for an IFA practising certificate (including a tax practising certificate) and practising obligations which include professional indemnity insurance, engagements letters, transparency regarding fees charged, client’s money, internal complaints-handling arrangements and arrangements for death or incapacity (alternate arrangements). The appendices in the regulations describe the different types of professional services that can be provided to the public under a full IFA practising certificate or under a tax practising certificate.

Public practice regulations effective from 1 January 2021.

Public practice regulations effective from 1 September 2019.

Continuing professional development regulations

The continuing professional development (CPD) regulations support the fundamental ethical principle of professional competence and due care, which is owed to each client and employer. These regulations apply to members unless they are CPD exempt as detailed in the regulations. The regulations include examples of CPD activities, record keeping and CPD monitoring by the IFA. It should be noted that the list of examples in the regulations are not intended as exhaustive lists. 

IFA members are required to submit an annual declaration each year confirming that they have met their CPD obligations.

Continuing professional development regulations effective from 1 January 2021.

Continuing professional development regulations effective from 1 September 2019. 

Disciplinary regulations

The disciplinary regulations describe the disciplinary process, which commences when the IFA makes or receives a complaint through to hearings and subsequent appeals. It covers the roles of case managers, Conduct Committees and Legal Assessors and the possible sanctions that can be ordered by the relevant Conduct Committee. Adjournments, interlocutory directions and orders and publicity provisions are also included in these regulations.

Members, affiliates, students, member firms and contracted firms finding themselves involved in IFA’s disciplinary process should make sure they are familiar with the disciplinary regulations and are strongly encouraged to co-operate with the disciplinary process.  

Disciplinary regulations effective from 1 January 2021.

Disciplinary regulations effective from 1 September 2019.  

Disciplinary sanctions 

The guidance on sanctions is used by the Regulatory Committee, Investigations Committee, Disciplinary Committee and Appeal Committee for all complaints they consider against IFA members, students, affiliates, member firms and contracted firms.  

Please note that the disciplinary sanctions guidance is in the process of being updated for the amendments to the IFA bye-laws and regulations.

Sanctions guidance effective from 1 April 2021.

Sanctions guidance effective from 1 September 2019.

Professional conduct in relation to taxation

This guidance sets out the high ethical standards which form the core of the tripartite relationship between tax adviser, client and HMRC. It supports the key role members play in helping clients comply with their tax obligations and their broader responsibilities to society.

The guidance has been endorsed by HMRC and has been updated in light of concerns from the government in relation to the facilitation and promotion of tax avoidance. The new guidance covers any structure or arrangement that is artificial, contrived, or seeks to exploit loopholes in tax law.

The key message in the guidance is that members have an obligation to advise their clients accurately and thoroughly of the risks and implications of their actions including reputational and practical aspects.

PRCT applies to all members and member firms who practice in tax including employees attending to the tax affairs of their employer. However many of its specifics have an adviser/client situation front of mind.

It has been recognised that further work is required to develop the guidance for members working in-house or in other capacities. This will be a priority for the professional bodies going forward.

Professional conduct in relation to taxation effective from 1 March 2017.

Frequently asked questions for new guidance.

Anti-money laundering (AML)

Members and member firms providing accountancy services, trust and company services or related services such as tax advice, audit or insolvency by way of business to the public must comply with the requirements of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and Money Laundering Regulations 2019 and must be supervised for compliance with these regulations by a supervisory authority, usually the IFA.

The draft Anti-Money Laundering Guidance for the Accountancy Sector (AMLGAS) , issued by the CCAB, has been issued, pending approval from HM Treasury. This guidance is based on the law and regulations as of 10 January 2020. This guidance covers the prevention of money laundering and the countering of terrorist financing. It is intended to be read by anyone who provides audit, accountancy, tax advisory, insolvency, or trust and company services in the United Kingdom and has been approved and adopted by the UK accountancy AML supervisory bodies.

Further information on anti-money laundering.