Accountant licensing to become mandatory as of 2020

In summer this year, alarm spread among accountants, as it was announced that outsourced accounting service providers will have to be licensed starting 2020. This certainly does not mean that there will be sanctions against unlicensed accountants next year, because all accounting professional will be provided with an transition period until 2022 to obtain the necessary licences and certificates.

What will such licensing mean for accountants? We asked this question at the ‘Biznesa komplekss‘ accounting consulting and competence centre.

 

What does accountant licensing mean? 

A licence implies a permission to engage in a business activity or to provide a service. Licences are often confused with certificates, but they are different. In order to obtain a licence, you need a certificate confirming your qualifications as an accountant. This is not mandatory at the moment. The qualifications of an accountant are confirmed by their university diplomas for degrees in finance and/or economics, and by an accounting certificate that can be obtained after training to be qualified for becoming a certified accountant.

 

What accounting companies must be licenced? 

The new changes in the law require companies that provide outsourced accounting services to be licensed. In Latvia, some 40% of institutions and companies outsource their accounting, which is a very large number of professionals engaged in this field. The licensing is introduced to bring more order into this industry and make sure that every person who provides accounting services is actually qualified to do that.

 

Certification as one of licensing criteria

In Latvia, the certification of accountants is done either by the Association of Accountants of the Republic of Latvia (LRGA), or by the Accountant Certification Centre (GSC). These bodies are authorised to assess the professional competence of accountants and to certify them according to the (level-four) accounting professional standard requirements.

 

How does one become qualified as an accountant, and get a certificate confirming this?

In order to get an accountant certificate, one must pass two exams at the Accountant Certification Centre. Our experience shows that virtually everyone who is trained can pass these exams. The training is provided by ‘Biznesa komplekss’, an accredited education provider, where accountants are taught as part of a practical accounting course. The accredited education provider not only prepares accountants for certification in cooperation with the Accountant Certification Centre, but also enables its students to compensate their expenses by declaring them in their tax returns.

 

What training courses does ‘Biznesa komplekss’ offer its students?

The ‘Biznesa komplekss’ competence centre offers four professional development courses for different levels of competence:

1.       The ‘Balance sheet and taxes’ basic course, with 160 academic hours.

2.       The ‘Company accounting’ intermediate course, with 170 academic hours for accountants who would like to learn to independently prepare company annual accounts.

3.       The ‘Practical accounting in accordance with Latvian and international regulations’ advanced course, with 200 academic hours for accountants seeking an internationally-recognised certificate.

4.       The ‘Internal and external audit’ for certified accountants who would like to become auditing accountants.

 

Biznesa komplekss’ also offers various informal courses related to the field of accounting, and provides advice to accountants. Accountants can continue improving their expertise at the Accountant Club workshops organised by ‘Biznesa komplekss’. These clubs operate in Riga, Ventspils, Valmiera and Saldus, and the creation of another one has been initiated in Jēkabpils. This means valuable workshops 4 times a year!