BFP: A New Qualification For Small Practice Staff

A qualification for business

ICAEW’s Business and Finance Professional qualification might be exactly what you need to boost your practice’s reputation

In a fast-moving, complex environment, business needs have become increasingly demanding and clients’ expectations are higher than ever. While larger practices have the human and finance resources to respond to these quickly, smaller practice firms might benefit from additional support. Such support could come from employees who have a professional status and the knowledge and experience that goes with it.

At non-chartered level, the ICAEW Business and Finance Professional (BFP) designation gives finance staff the skills they need to make decisions with confidence and to understand the impact of their actions on a wider scale. With the BFP status, professionals demonstrate their commitment to continuous development and to keeping their skills up-to-date.

The power of letters

Once they’ve gained their status, professionals can use the BFP letters after their name to demonstrate their professionalism. In order to remain BFPs, they are asked to make an annual CPD declaration, which means their skills move with the times and remain relevant to business demands. They also have access to a wide range of material, including resources from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), the ICAEW Excel Community and frequent content on a technical specialism of their choice.

BFPs gain a good experience of what it’s like to be part of a community, to aspire to high professional standards, and to demonstrate commitment to their profession. This is why many progress in their career, while others see the designation as a stepping stone towards chartered accountancy, as they have already met some of the ACA requirements.

Ethics at the forefront

The designation is not only beneficial to the holder but to their employer as well. Staff recognised by a membership organisation will enhance credibility with clients. Especially for smaller practices in the UK and internationally, having employees with the BFP designation will give an added sense of assurance and quality to potential business partners. Bound by the ICAEW Code of Ethics, those with the BFP designation have a strong ethical understanding which enables them to gain clients’ trust and build a strong relationship with them.

One of the main benefits for firms is that they gain access to the ICAEW helplines. This means that they can receive specialist help on a wide range of topics including ethical, technical and legislative. ICAEW Business and Finance Professionals may choose to use these helplines when they come across ethical dilemmas or even if they just need guidance.

Improving recruitment and retention

Recognising staff with the BFP designation can also help with issues with recruitment and retention. By training or employing staff with BFP status, small practices can address any skills shortage within their business.

For many organisations, supporting employees with professional development, and recognising their achievements, has been one of the most successful ways to recruit and retain talent. BFP is the perfect recognition of their commitment and hard work, which they can proudly promote throughout their career.

It also helps to build a structured development path, where employees can easily identify the behaviours and skills necessary to progress. This, in turn, leads to increased productivity and improved business outcomes.

The journey to the designation

To become a BFP, professionals need to complete the Certificate Level of the ACA qualification, also known as the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB) standalone qualification, 12 months’ work experience in business and/or finance and the online ICAEW Ethics Learning Programme. Those with relevant degrees or equivalent non-ICAEW qualifications might be eligible for exemptions for up to five of the six ICAEW CFAB exams. If they also already meet the work experience requirements, it could take them a very short time to gain the BFP designation.

As ICAEW members have already met all the requirements, they can register online to start using the BFP letters free of charge.

Discuss your options

If you are considering training your staff to become ICAEW Business and Finance Professionals, you can discuss your options with a dedicated member of the ICAEW Business Development team, who will support you every step of the way. You can get in touch at studentsupport@icaew.com or call +44 (0)1908 248 250

Find out more at icaew.com/trainbfp

• Thanks to the ICAEW for this article

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