“Unlike solicitors and some other professional roles, the term accountant is not protected by law, so absolutely anyone can call themselves one – even without any training,” said Sarah Hathaway, head of ACCA UK.
Ms Hathaway urged advisers to check an accountant’s qualifications before using their services.
Her warning came on the back of research from cloud accounting software provider ClearBooks which showed that only 8 per cent of small businesses considered an accountant’s qualifications when choosing one.
Ms Hathaway said that any business with serious growth potential needs a qualified person who can adapt quickly to changing management accounting needs.
She said: “Business growth is never even and rarely goes according to plan, so it’s vital to have the right skills in place from an early stage.”
Gareth Reynolds, financial adviser at Staffordshire-based MGS Financial, said: “In the same way we expect a customer to use an adviser who is qualified because they have demonstrated acumen and ability with an academic qualification, we should expect this of accountants, too. I would also always refer clients to a qualified accountant, as they have knowledge and expertise that is guaranteed.”