As you make this important move, here is a checklist of the vital first steps you need to consider when setting up your business.

1. Confirm if you will be in 'public practice'

You are considered to be engaging in public practice if you offer bookkeeping services to the public, whether paid or unpaid.  This applies even if you do not intend to actively promote your services, use the ICB Crest or call yourself a Certified Bookkeeper.

If you only provide a service to a charity, non-profit body or family member on a voluntary basis you may, under certain circumstances, fall outside the scope of engaging in public practice and, therefore, may not require a Practice Licence.  

If you are employed by a business, irrespective of whether the business is itself an accountancy service provider, you do not normally need a Practice Licence unless you are a principal of the business.

If you are in any doubt, please call ICB on 0207 856 2567. 

2. Take out an ICB Practice Licence and PI Insurance

As a member in public practice you must take out the ICB Practice Licence even if you have a Practice Licence with another body. Unlike some other bodies, ICB automatically supervises Practice Licence holders under the Money Laundering Regulations (MLR).

 

Further reading: 

The Practice Licence and how to apply

3. Comply with the Money Laundering Regulations

Your work as a bookkeeper in public practice falls under the scope of the Money Laundering Regulations (MLR). You will therefore need to satisfy a legal requirement to put in place certain controls to spot and reduce the risk of your clients laundering money.

It is also a legal requirement that your compliance with the MLR is monitored by a Supervisory Authority like ICB.  If you have a Practice Licence, ICB will be your supervisor by default.

 

Further reading:

MLR legislation & Anti-Money Laundering requirements

4. Comply with the Professional Conduct Regulations

The Professional Conduct Regulations set out the basic principles for ethical and professional conduct.  The regulations also set out your ongoing duties to ICB and the disciplinary process that is used when a member contravenes the regulations.

 

Further reading:

Ethics & Regulations

5. Register with the ICO

The Information Commissioner's Office is an independent organisation set up to uphold and enforce the Data Protection Act. You can be fined for not registering so ICB recommends that you register and ensure that you understand exactly what your duties are under the act.

 

Further reading:

Data Protection Act for bookkeepers

6. Register as Self Employed with HMRC

Whilst you help your clients stay on the right side of HMRC, you must not forget your own business has the same obligations.  It is important that you register as self employed unless you are setting up a Limited Company.

 

Further reading: 

Company Structure

Paying your tax and registering with HMRC

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