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Complaints about Statutory Auditors, Accountants and Actuaries

Frequently Asked Questions

1) How do I make a complaint about a statutory auditor, accountant or actuary, or a firm of accountants, statutory auditors or actuaries?

If you want to make a complaint about the professional conduct of an accountant, statutory auditor or actuary, you should, in the first instance, bring your concerns to the attention of the senior partner of the firm concerned. Many firms of auditors, accountants and actuaries have formal complaint review procedures. If you are still not satisfied, you should contact the professional body of which the individual or firm is a member.

All of the main UK professional bodies have procedures for handling complaints, including, where appropriate, investigating possible misconduct. In addition most of the bodies have a method of appeals and independent review in certain circumstances. Most bodies provide details of their complaints procedures on their websites and are happy to provide additional information on request.

If you are unsure whether someone is a member of a particular body, you can ask the body of which you think the individual or firm is a member to confirm.

2) What is the difference between an accountant and a statutory auditor?

An accountant may offer a wide range of accountancy and related services (for example: accounts preparation; tax advice; payroll). However, only those accountants who are also statutory auditors are entitled by law to provide statutory audit services, most commonly the audit of limited companies.

Accountancy is not subject to statutory oversight and the term "accountant" is not reserved to those who are members of specified professional bodies. However, many individuals and firms who offer accountancy services to the public will be a member of a professional accountancy body.

All registered auditors are subject to statutory regulation by one of five accountancy bodies recognised by the Financial Reporting Council in accordance with the requirements of the Companies Act: Recognised Supervisory Bodies.

3) What is the role of the Financial Reporting Council?

The FRC has formal oversight responsibilities under the Companies Act 2006 in relation to statutory audit which include ensuring that those accountancy bodies recognised to supervise auditors and audit firms (Recognised Supervisory Bodies) have effective arrangements for the investigation of complaints against their members and member firms who are eligible for appointment as a statutory auditor, and against the body itself in respect of any matter arising out of its functions as a supervisory body.

By agreement with the six "chartered" accountancy bodies, we also exercise independent oversight of the way those bodies exercise their regulatory functions in relation to their members who are not eligible for appointment as statutory auditor and who provide non-audit accountancy services.

By agreement with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, we exercise independent oversight of the way those bodies exercise their regulatory functions in relation to their members who provide actuarial services.

We will therefore consider complaints that raise concerns about the way in which a professional accountancy or actuarial body has handled a complaint. However, the professional bodies are responsible for their own regulatory processes and we will not consider the merits of an individual case or second guess the conclusions reached by the professional body under its own processes.

4) How do I make a complaint about the way a professional accountancy or actuarial body has handled a complaint about their member?

You should first pursue the matter with the relevant body, most of which also have a system of independent review or other process to consider the way they have handled a complaint. If you are not satisfied with the application of the process you can draw your concerns to the attention of the FRC’s Professional Oversight team who will consider them as set out in response to question 5 below.

Please submit all relevant documentation and correspondence to us setting out the details of your complaint.

Unless you explicitly state that you do not want the details of your complaint shared with the relevant professional body, we will normally notify them of the details of any complaint we receive so that we can investigate it fully.

All complaints about professional bodies should be submitted in writing to:

FRC - Professional Oversight Team
5th Floor,
Aldwych House,
71-91 Aldwych,
London,
WC2B 4HN.

Alternatively you can email your complaint to oversight@frc.org.uk. Please ensure to include your contact address.

5) How and when will the FRC respond to my complaint?

We aim to acknowledge all complaints within 10 working days of receipt. At this time we will notify you if your complaint does not fall within our remit. If a complaint does not fall within our remit, we will try and suggest organisations that may be able to assist with your complaint. We will also advise you if your complaint does not raise concerns that a professional accountancy or actuarial body has breached significantly its own standard procedures in the handling of your complaint about their member.

If your complaint raises concerns that a professional accountancy or actuarial body may have breached significantly its own standard procedures in the handling of your complaint about their member, we will normally seek the comments of the relevant body and look at papers relating to the case as appropriate. We will then normally write to you again to tell you the outcome of our consideration of the matter and whether the body proposes to take any action based on our comments. However, we do not have the power either to overturn any decision which the body has made in a case or to direct how the body should handle a case.

We may also use complaints put to us as part of our testing that the relevant body has appropriate systems for handling complaints and that these are working effectively in practice. We do not report the results of this work back to individual complainants. However, we report publicly each year to the Secretary of State on the overall results of our monitoring work in relation to the regulation of statutory audit and we may also publish other reports on specific aspects of our oversight work.

6) Will the FRC review an ongoing investigation into a complaint?

We consider that it is more appropriate that you draw your concerns to our attention once the relevant professional bodies complaints process has been completed.

7) What is the role of the FRC’s Professional Discipline function?

The FRC’s Professional Discipline function is responsible for operating and administering an independent disciplinary scheme covering members from a number of professional accountancy and actuarial bodies1. The focus of the Professional Discipline function is on cases involving significant public interest; other cases are dealt with by the individual accountancy and actuarial bodies.
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The Financial Reporting Council Limited is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England number 2486368. Registered Office: 5th Floor Aldwych House, 71-91 Aldwych, London WC2B 4HN

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