I had the privilege of attending the ICAEW Support Members’ annual conference yesterday. I was there in my capacity as vice-chairman of the ICAEW Ethics Advisory Committee.

I thought it would be helpful to share a few of the learning points that may be of interest and value to accountants who find themselves the subject of a complaint.

The following five tips were shared by the Head of Investigation at ICAEW, but are, I’m sure, equally relevant to members of other bodies:

  1. Don’t bury your head in the sand; seek help and support early on**
  2. Focus on the facts
  3. Engage with your professional body when they approach you re a complaint
  4. Try to remove the emotion and address things as objectively as you can
  5. Explain any mitigating circumstances as early as possible

**Members of the ICAEW who are the subject of a complaint are welcome to take advantage of the Support Members’ scheme. Full details here: www.icaew.com/support  The volunteer team of support members are always on hand to act as a listening ear and offer non-judgmental assistance for working or retired members. The service provides free confidential advice to provide independent support for ICAEW members.

From personal worries about health, money or family to work-related concerns about professional ethics, regulation and discipline – support members are ready to listen.

The following ICAEW helplines are, perhaps, not as well known as they might be:

Support members
+44 (0)800 917 3526

Advisory helpline
+44 (0)1908 248 250

Library enquiry helpline
+44 (0)20 7920 8620

Free legal helpline
+44 (0)845 567 6003