‘Chartered accountants don't need debt advice, do they?’ is a question I’m often asked whenever I introduce myself to new people and explain my role to them. While the idea may appear to be an amusing paradox at first, it’s actually a damaging misconception that stops lots of accountants from reaching out to us for help. 

Contrary to popular belief, financial difficulties aren’t always caused by acting irresponsibly in relation to your finances. Having worked at caba for almost a decade, I can assure you the reasons are as varied as the types of people I speak to.

On a typical day, I might speak to:

  • an accountant whose small business is struggling
  • a widow of a chartered accountant, who is unsure how to handle the finances
  • a student who’s living away from home and struggling to pay their rent….

….And when they speak to me, they all feel guilty and ashamed about their situation. 

My response? I always tell them that being a chartered accountant doesn’t make you immune to the difficulties the economy is facing.

Any accountant can face redundancy or be forced to close their business because a couple of their major clients have gone under. Likewise, life-changing exceptional experiences, such as serious illness, separation and bereavement, can easily happen to any one of us. 

On the whole, the people I speak to are great professionals, who have worked really hard to get to where they are. Being in debt is an awful experience as it is, even more so if you beat yourself up about it. 

As challenging as things may be, there is support available to you to help make your financial situation more manageable. This includes our wealth of debt support services, which are free for you to use.

how caba can help

We often get contacted by accountants, who have decided to take the formal insolvency route or are convinced that bankruptcy or an IVA are the only option.

Our dedicated debt advice team is here to advise you on whether these solutions are appropriate for you and the possible implications. They can also talk you through many other options you might not have considered. For example, we may be able to negotiate directly with your creditors on your behalf and help you come to an informal payment arrangement.

We can help you minimise the impact of your debts by providing you with all the expert guidance and support you need. (For more on how we can help you manage your debt read, ‘debt: warning signs, what to do & how we can help.’)

a final few words from Paul…

I would like to use this article to reach out to accountants and their families, who may be experiencing financial difficulties right now.

While it may not be easy to talk about the subject to other people, it really does help. If you do choose to reach out to us, and I really hope that you do, we won’t judge you, regardless of your circumstances. Instead, we will listen and then provide you with the right support and advice based on your situation. While it may not feel like it, you do have options. We can help you explore those options and work with you to develop a plan to get your finances back in order.

As this blog has attempted to address some misconceptions surrounding chartered accountants and debt, it only seems fitting to end on one more. We’re often asked if we are part of the ICAEW and if we will share your information with them.

caba is an entirely independent charity. This means that everything you tell us is strictly confidential. We do not share any information you have given us with the ICAEW, other organisations or anybody else without your permission.

Our debt advice is available for past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, past and present ICAEW staff and their close families. All of our services are free, impartial and confidential. If you're experiencing financial issues that you need help with, get in touch with our dedicated debt advice team for impartial, professional advice today.

In the meantime, for insight on the impact debt can have on your ICAEW membership, read this article, ‘how debt affects your ICAEW membership.’

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)1, ACA students2, ICAEW staff members3, and the family and carers of members and students4

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is or was dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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