Member firm

If your firm meets the definition of IFA member firm engaged in public practice, you must complete and submit an annual firm return to the IFA. This page gives you information about how to access your firm’s annual return as well as frequently asked questions and other guidance.

Definition

A member firm means a sole practitioner, partnership, limited partnership or body corporate which is engaged in public practice where more than 50% of the rights to vote on all, or substantially all, matters of substance regarding the firm are held by Members. This includes: 

  1. a partnership engaged in public practice of which more than 50% of the rights to vote on all, or substantially all, matters of substance at meetings of the partnership are held by members; or
  2. a limited liability partnership engaged in public practice of which more than 50% of the rights to vote on all, or substantially all, matters of substance at meetings of the partnership are held by members; or
  3. any body corporate (other than a limited liability partnership) engaged in public practice of which: 

i. 50% or more of the directors are members; and
ii. more than 50% of the nominal value of the voting shares is held by members; and
iii. more than 50% of the aggregate in nominal value of the voting and non-voting shares are held by members.

IFA bye-laws 

The IFA bye-laws require a member firm to:   

  1. be bound by the Institute articles, bye-laws and regulations;
  2. pay the prescribed fees and subscriptions; 
  3. submit an annual practice return to the Institute in such form and at such time as the Institute may prescribe;
  4. notify the Institute within 21 working days of any change of registered address or electronic mail address;
  5. notify the Institute that they no longer meet the member firm definition within 21 working days of the change;
  6. co-operate with any Institute arrangements for monitoring and review of their professional, regulatory, business efficiency and competence.

Member firm annual return

Your firm’s annual return is designed to inform the IFA of any changes in your firm’s address, contact details, and full details of the composition and activities. 

You need to complete and submit the firm return as soon as possible. 

Failure to submit the annual return means means that the IFA is unable to supervise your firm under MLR 2017. This may also lead to incorrect information being published by the IFA in the firm register which is in the process of being developed. 

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that your firm’s return is submitted on time and that the information is accurate and correct. Failure to submit the return by the due date may lead to disciplinary action, in accordance with the IFA bye-laws.

How to complete your firm’s annual return

Your firm’s return must be completed online. You will have received details of your new firm number and guidance on how to complete your firm’s return by email. The email was sent to the key contact for the firm.

Please contact the IFA on 020 3567 5999 if you do not know your firm number.

The firm’s annual return consists of seven individual forms which must all be completed to ensure your firm meets its obligations to the IFA. The seven individual forms cover the following areas:

1. Firm information
2. Director, owners and partners
3. Firm fees and activities
4. Clients’ money and professional indemnity insurance
5. Arrangements for incapacity or death
6. Anti-money laundering (AML)
7. Undertakings and declarations

Guidance for completing the forms

The forms can be completed in any order. However, all seven forms must be completed.

Once you start entering information in the form, you must complete and submit it. There is no facility in the form to save information unless you submit the form.

You may click on each of the seven form headings above in turn to access each form to complete your firm return.

There are mandatory fields in each form which are highlighted with a red asterisk. The form cannot be submitted until all mandatory fields are completed.

The forms contain some guidance notes which you will see when your mouse hovers over particular questions. 

Once a form is submitted, you will receive a confirmation email which will contain a copy of the information you have provided. Please keep this email for your records.

Please ensure that you include the correct firm number in the forms. You can find this number on the top right-hand side of the email requesting you to complete the firm return.

Please note that if you are a director, owner or partner in more than one accountancy firm that meets the definition IFA "Member Firm" as defined by the IFA bye-laws you will be required to complete and submit a separate annual return for each firm.

Each firm is required to be registered and supervised by the IFA and pay an additional fee for AML supervision. If this applies to you, please contact the membership team on compliance@ifa.org.uk or call 020 3567 5999.

To help you complete your firm’s annual return, we have included guidance in the firm return and also prepared some FAQs which are available below. 

How to notify the IFA of any changes

It is important to maintain an accurate IFA firm record. 

If there are any changes to the information provided in your annual return, you must notify the IFA as soon as possible by emailing compliance@ifa.org.uk or calling on 020 3567 5999.

In particular, please note that you must notify the IFA:

  • within 21 working days, if the firm no longer meets the definition of IFA member firm and if there are changes to your registered address and contact emails (IFA bye-laws); and
  • where appropriate to the size and nature of the business, contact details of the Money Laundering Compliance Officer within 14 days of appointment (Money Laundering Regulations 2017 Regulation 21(1)(a)).

Help

If you have any questions or need any assistance completing your firm’s annual return, please look at the guidance in the firm return,  read our FAQs or contact the membership team on compliance@ifa.org.uk or call 020 3567 5999.