The primary objective of the ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB) is to ensure that ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary work, undertaken by the Professional Standards Department (PSD), is carried out in the public interest, and to provide assurance to government, oversight regulators, and members of the public that each task is carried out independently and objectively.
The report sets out the ways in which the PSD and the IRB have “adapted and responded” to the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the multiple lockdowns.
It said the PSD was able to move all its functions smoothly online which has resulted in minimal disruption to regulatory and disciplinary work. The department achieved a balance between being “sympathetic” to difficulties being experienced by ICAEW members and firms due to the lockdowns and the expectations of ICAEW members and firms to maintain the same high professional standards, the report explains.
In 2020, the key areas of focus for the IRB included supervising the implementation of its anti-money laundering strategy; improving consistency in the reporting of misconduct by firms by issuing new guidance which clearly defines what is considered to be in the public interest; and improving communication and awareness of its work and that of the PSD.
This year it said the IRB will continue its work to modernise ICAEW’s disciplinary framework. It will also continue to conduct quality assurance reviews of the regulatory and disciplinary committees; consider whether to revise the current definition of accountancy services, to make clearer the circumstances where ICAEW members need to hold a practising certificate; and consider the important consultations which will shape the future of audit and insolvency.
Michael Caplan QC, IRB chair, said: “The IRB’s primary objective in all decisions is to ensure ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary work is carried out in the public interest, and it is a tribute to the ICAEW Professional Standards Department that in spite of multiple lockdowns the department’s work moved smoothly online.
“Our annual report highlights the hard work and effort taken to ensure there was minimal disruption to ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary work despite the many unprecedented and unforeseen challenges. The Board looks forward to continuing its activities during this year.”