What Does the QCS Mean to You?
Liz Kirkham answers some common questions from practitioners about the Quality Checked Seal (now replaced by ACCA Quality Checked).
What is it?
The Quality Checked Seal (QCS) is a kitemark issued to ACCA firms that apply best practice standards. The kitemark can be displayed on the firms letterhead and used in promotional literature.
Why has ACCA Introduced QCS?
QCS aims for all ACCA practices to be run in a professional and well-organised manner. It gives recognition to firms that have best practice standards in place and helps distinguish them from unqualified firms.
Does this Detract from the ACCA Qualification?
QCS is an award for firms in practice, and best practice standards are specific to situations encountered in small and medium accountancy practices. It enhances, rather than detracts from, the ACCA qualification for members in practice.
How do I get the Kitemark?
You will be awarded the kitemark if a quality assurance visit to your firm shows that you have implemented best practice procedures.
What if I Dont Meet the Standard for a QCS?
You will be given practical advice on how to improve your procedures and can be awarded a QCS when you have made these changes. This may require a further visit to your firm to see the changes in operation.
Is it Compulsory?
ACCA Council has decided that all ACCA firms should have a quality assurance visit. Therefore a quality assurance visit is compulsory. However, a firm may choose not to implement the best practice procedures recommended but in this case it would not then be awarded a QCS.
What Does the Visit Involve?
A compliance officer from ACCAs Monitoring Unit will visit your firm and discuss with you and your staff what quality control procedures you have in place. This will cover:
- client and fee management
- presentation and image
- new client procedures
- control and training of staff and subcontractors
- office filing and correspondence
- security of computer data
- accounts preparation
- management accounts
- personal and corporation tax
- VAT, PAYE, NIC and payroll work
- business plans
- any other services.
The compliance officer will also look at some files and other records to see the controls operating in practice.
What are the Benefits to my Firm?
Quality assurance visits are consultative and aim to help firms review their procedures and identify any weaknesses that may expose the firm to risk of complaints or loss of clients. They also identify areas where the firm could be more efficient and so improve its service to clients and its profitability. Firms that have had quality assurance visits have found the opportunity to review their own procedures in preparation for the visit useful and have appreciated the advice given to them during and after the visit.
What are Best Practice Standards?
Best practice standards are based on the fundamental principles in ACCAs Code of Ethics and represent good business practices that apply to all firms regardless of their size. The QCS benchmarks and guidance can be viewed on ACCAs website at www.accaglobal.com/practicechannel/qcs. These are standards not procedures and firms will have different ways of meeting these standards.
When Will I be Visited?
ACCAs Monitoring Unit is carrying out quality assurance visits alongside routine monitoring visits.
What if I Want an Earlier Visit?
You can request an early visit. If you have had a satisfactory outcome to a monitoring visit within the last year the visit will cover quality assurance only.
What if the Outcome of my Monitoring Visit was Unsatisfactory?
If your last monitoring visit was unsatisfactory you will need to have a further satisfactory monitoring visit before your firm can be awarded a QCS.
How Much Does it Cost?
There is no charge for QCS visits.
Liz Kirkham Compliance Officer, ACCA