Accountancy

The accountancy profession plays a crucial role within the UK economy, with the financial information it produces underpinning business decision-making at all levels. Over half a million people work in accountancy roles; of whom over 300,000 are registered with the industry’s various trade bodies. Combining those professionals who work in specialist accountancy firms and those who work in-house within other industries, the profession is believed to contribute £59 billion to UK GDP.

The value of the work the profession does and the impact it has on other businesses – particularly when it comes to audit activities - means that there will always be intense scrutiny of the honesty and integrity of people working within this industry.  The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW), for example, expressly requires firms to be responsible for ensuring that all its principals and employees are (and continue to be) ‘fit and proper’.  In some cases, this has translated into little more than self-declared fitness and propriety assessments. However, we now note a growing trend towards more comprehensive (and ongoing) screening checks, covering employment history, credit and criminal record checks.

In some parts of the industry, such as auditing roles, this is already compulsory. Screening for any principals, employees or 'Responsible Individuals' involved in audit work needs to include all these three factors (with employment history going back ten years) as well as checks on financial conduct, directorships and international fraud and sanctions. In addition, such checks are rarely limited to Pre-employment screening but need to be re-run on a regular basis.  Elsewhere, more in-depth screening approaches are being driven by clients’ insistence that any contractors they work with be screened to their own in-house standards. As with workers in many other parts of professional services, accountants can often move from one client to another - and having insufficient background checks in place can slow this process down.

We therefore see employers now screening to a far higher, more robust standard, meaning that nothing more than an occasional top-up check might be required when moving from one client to the next.


Checks that employers may want to consider running in this sector


Right to Work: We’ll ensure that a candidate’s documentation meets the current Home Office requirements. We can also repeat checks as and when needed for individuals who have a limited entitlement to remain in the UK.

Identity checks: To prevent employers falling victim to identity fraud, we can undertake electronic verification checks on identity documents provided by a candidate. Alternatively, we can provide online identity checks, using biographical data.

Criminal record checks: We’ll undertake the appropriate level of UK criminal record checks, subject to strict eligibility guidelines. We’re also able to obtain overseas criminal records for candidates with an international background.

Employment history: We can verify a candidate’s work history and references for the past ten years, including checks on the existence and authenticity of all listed employers. Using our CV comparison service, we can also check for any discrepancies between the CV used to secure an interview and the subsequent findings of the full background check.

Professional and academic qualifications: Where applicable, we can check the validity of someone’s professional accreditations or registrations while also checking that their academic qualifications are genuine. For all professional and academic qualifications, we’ll always check at source with the awarding body.

International fraud and sanctions watchlists: We’ll check to see whether a candidate’s name appears on any of the hundreds of publicly available watchlists worldwide, relating to anything from terrorism and fraud through to being a barred or politically exposed person.

Credit checks: We’ll establish a candidate’s identity, address history and financial status via credit referencing agency records. The search will reveal details of financial probity and information including County Court Judgements, bankruptcies and voluntary arrangements within the last six years. This search will be recorded on the candidate’s file but will not be visible to other parties and will not affect the candidate’s credit score. 

Directorship checks: We'll check to establish whether a candidate holds any company directorships and whether or not they are disqualified from being a director.

Social media checks: An increasingly popular – and relevant – check for employers keen to understand whether someone’s social media activity could damage their brand, reputation or client relationships. As well as highlighting illegal activity and undesirable characteristics, such checks can also play a part in authenticating a candidate’s employment history.

Driving licence checks: We’ll check that the candidate does indeed have a valid driving licence. We’ll also check for any endorsements or disqualifications currently on their licence.

 

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