IFA bye-laws and regulations
Our reputation rests on that of our members, students, affiliates, member firms and contracted firms. The 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.
Through its regulatory, compliance and supervisory functions the IFA monitors adherence to those standards and will take action through its independent disciplinary processes if the standards are not met.
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
The Bye-laws cover matters such as eligibility for membership, the recognition of member firms, the IFA’s jurisdiction over members, students, affiliates and firms, liability to disciplinary action, and fitness and propriety. Some of the detailed requirements are set out in Regulations, which are made in accordance with the Bye-laws.
Bye-laws effective from 1 May 2023.
Code of Ethics
The Code of Ethics helps members, students, affiliates and firms meet their professional obligations by providing them with an ethical framework. With effect from 1 January 2023, the IFA has chosen to adopt the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants of the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) published by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). Previously, the IFA Code of Ethics included some additional requirements specific to the IFA. However, these additions are no longer considered necessary, and the IESBA Code directly impacts IFA members, students, affiliates and firms through an amendment to Bye-law 11.1. This now states that members, students, affiliates and firms shall ‘comply with the Code of Ethics [defined as the IESBA Code], in which the term “professional accountant” shall mean an IFA member, student, affiliate, member firm and/or contracted firm as applicable’.
The Code sets out five fundamental principles, which guide members’ behaviour:
- Professional competence and due care
- Professional behaviour.
Members, firms, affiliates and students must assess any threats to compliance with those principles and implement appropriate safeguards where those threats are not insignificant. The Code of Ethics includes a number of sections covering situations that members, etc are likely to encounter and suggests, or in some cases, requires, specific courses of action.
Code of Ethics effective from 1 January 2023.
The Membership Regulations include the detailed requirements that relate to a member’s rights and obligations. They also include provisions relating to IFA students, affiliates, member firms and contracted firms.
Membership Regulations effective from 1 July 2022.
Public Practice Regulations
The IFA requires all members in public practice to adhere to the Public Practice Regulations. If you are a member acting (or being held out) as a principal in a firm engaged in public practice in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man, you must hold an IFA practising certificate.
The Public Practice Regulations explain the meaning of ‘public practice’ (which excludes honorary work), the eligibility requirements for an IFA practising certificate, and practising obligations relating to professional indemnity insurance, engagements letters, the holding of clients’ money, handling complaints and arrangements for death or incapacity.
Public Practice Regulations effective from 1 May 2023.
Continuing Professional Development Regulations
The CPD Regulations support the fundamental ethical principle of professional competence and due care. They apply to all members who are not exempt as detailed in the Regulations. They include examples of CPD activities and provisions regarding record keeping and CPD monitoring by the IFA. It should be noted that the list of examples in the regulations are not exhaustive lists.
IFA members must submit an annual declaration confirming that they have met their CPD obligations.
Continuing Professional Development Regulations effective from 1 July 2022.
The Disciplinary Regulations set out the IFA’s disciplinary processes, which commence when the IFA receives a complaint. They explain the process of investigation and independent adjudication, which may be by way of public hearings. The Regulations explain the roles of Case Managers, Conduct Committees and Legal Assessors and the possible sanctions that can be ordered by the relevant Conduct Committee. Interlocutory and other orders and publicity provisions are also included in these Regulations.
Members, affiliates, students, member firms and contracted firms finding themselves involved in the IFA’s disciplinary processes should ensure they are familiar with the Disciplinary Regulations, and they must co-operate with the investigatory and disciplinary processes.
Disciplinary Regulations effective from 1 July 2022.
The Institute of Financial Accountants Sanctions Guidance is to be referred to by a Conduct Committee when considering what order to make (or offer) where the Committee has made a finding against a member, student, affiliate, member firm or contracted firm. The purpose of the guidance is to enhance consistency and transparency regarding the outcomes of the IFA’s regulatory and disciplinary procedures.
Sanctions Guidance effective from 1 April 2023.
Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation
This document 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.
Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) has been effective from 1 March 2017 and has since been republished twice: on 1 March 2019 and 1 January 2023. This latest review concluded that no updating of substance was required although some references were updated.
PCRT comprises three sections, including the fundamental principles and the standards for tax planning. It is supported by supplementary help sheets, most of which replaced Parts 3 and 4 of the 2017 edition of PCRT:
- PCRT Help sheet A: Submission of tax information and tax filings
- PCRT Help sheet B: Tax advice
- PCRT Help sheet C: Dealing with errors
- PCRT Help sheet C2: Dealing with errors - members in business
- PCRT Help sheet D: Request for data by HMRC
- PCRT Help sheet E: Members’ personal tax affairs
The help sheets are designed to help members apply the fundamental principles and standards in specific situations. From 1st June 2020, PCRT is also supported by Topical guidance covering the application of professional standards to the provision of R&D tax credit services.
PCRT has been jointly produced by seven professional bodies and has been adopted by the IFA. Although the document is referred to as ‘guidance’, a respondent within the IFA’s disciplinary process may be required to explain why they did not follow the guidance, including any relevant help sheets.
Although many of the specific requirements of PCRT and help sheets are written from the public practice perspective, they apply to all IFA members and member firms who practice in tax, including members who are attend to the tax affairs of their employer. The documents have been endorsed by HMRC, which has acknowledged that PCRT is an acceptable basis for dealings between members and HMRC.
Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation effective from 1 January 2023.
Frequently asked questions for new guidance.
Anti-money laundering (AML)
Sole practitioners and 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 must be supervised for compliance with the Regulations. The IFA will usually be the supervisory authority for IFA members and firms.
The updated Anti-Money Laundering Guidance for the Accountancy Sector (AMLGAS), issued by the CCAB, was approved by HM Treasury in May 2022. The AMLGAS addresses 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, and/or trust and company services in the United Kingdom and has been approved and adopted by the UK accountancy professional body supervisors.