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Frequently asked questions

I want to make a complaint about a CIMA member or registered student / How do I complain about a CIMA member or registered student?

First of all find out if the person you wish to complain about is actually a member or registered student of this professional body – email cima.contact@cimaglobal.com.

Next, decide whether your issue is covered by the CIMA criteria for complaints, or if you should try another approach – see what CIMA can investigate.

If you wish to make a complaint, follow the instructions on how to make a complaint of misconduct.

What is 'misconduct'?

Misconduct is a breach of CIMA’s laws – these are the rules governing the professional behaviour of CIMA members and registered students. Unprofessional behaviour and not behaving to the standard required by the CIMA code of ethics are regarded as misconduct (please see what is misconduct).

Conduct resulting in a conviction or sanction by a court or other tribunal also falls within the definition of misconduct (for further information please see glossary).

What happens after I make a complaint?

Once your notification of complaint form is received by the professional conduct team, your complaint will be articulated for you in a form that can go forward to the investigation committee. You will be sent the summary of complaint to confirm that it is accurate. You may be asked for further information in relation to your complaint prior to this

Why do you ask for so much information?

A complaint of misconduct against a member or registered student of CIMA is a serious matter and we must ask for the information and evidence needed, sufficient to enable the investigation committee determine whether there is a case for the member or registered student to answer should the facts be proven.

Once a case has been submitted for consideration, the investigation committee may request that further evidence or information be provided before they reach a decision. If a case subsequently proceeds to the disciplinary committee stage, it may be necessary to gather further evidence or information (see how to make a complaint of misconduct).

Why was my complaint summarised before it was submitted to the investigation committee?

When an allegation of misconduct against a member or registered student is received, it is reviewed in order to determine the terms of the complaint to be put to the member or registered student. This may require some reformulation of the wording originally provided to ensure fairness and consistency of approach. This will still contain the substance of the original wording, and the complainant will receive a copy to ensure that is the case. (see how to make a complaint of misconduct)

Can I make a complaint about a firm of accountants?

CIMA only registers and regulates individuals. The conduct processes cover unprofessional behavior by individual accountants – you can make a complaint against an individual CIMA member or registered student associated with a firm. However remember the conduct processes do not provide financial redress or compensation; for that you must raise your concerns with the firm in the first instance (see what CIMA can investigate).

I think my accountant has overcharged me / not done what I expected.

Every CIMA member in practice (MiP) ie accountants that provide and charge for providing accountancy services to the public, is required to have a letter of engagement. You should check your letter of engagement to see what your accountant undertook to provide in terms of service at the outset.

If you are unhappy you should speak with your accountant and ask for a copy of his/her complaints procedures (also a requirement of CIMA MiP registration). See the member in practice rules for information on this and also what CIMA can investigate.

If in the course of a contractual dispute your accountant behaves unprofessionally, this may be misconduct and you may wish to make a complaint about this. It will be entirely separate from any contractual dispute. See examples of misconduct.

Can CIMA make my accountant do what I want?

No. The CIMA complaints procedures are in place to protect the public from unprofessional behaviour by CIMA members or registered students. If you have a dispute with your accountant you should ask for a copy of their internal complaints procedures and if this does not resolve your issue you may wish to look at the alternative dispute resolution page.

What is 'unprofessional behaviour'?

Unprofessional behavior is behavior that would bring the profession of management accountancy into disrepute. The CIMA code of ethics sets out the requirements and standards of behavior for CIMA members and registered students.

Examples of unprofessional behavior may be:

  • Tardy communication or failure to communicate.
  • Failure to complete a professional engagement within the time agreed (without the consent of the client).
  • Rude or obstructive behavior.

For further information see examples of misconduct.

Can CIMA give me legal or technical advice in relation to my complaint?

No. CIMA can, however, provide advice on the procedures and protocols which enable the conduct process.

Is CIMA biased towards its own members? How do I know my complaint will be dealt with fairly?

CIMA is impartial in matters of complaints against its members. To ensure impartiality, the conduct committees are comprised of both lay and CIMA members with a majority of lay members (individuals from a non-accountancy background) and are appointed via an independent external process.

There are strict protocols in place to ensure that nobody on a conduct committee has any conflict with individual parties in a complaint, any of the legal advisers or any other connection with the complaint. See information about the conduct committees.

I have made a complaint – what stage is the conduct process at? When will I hear the outcome of my complaint?

You can contact the professional conduct team (prof.conduct@cimaglobal.com) at any time and they will tell you how the case is progressing. If you are to be called as a witness you will be given plenty of notice as to hearing dates.

Why does my complaint seem to be taking so long to deal with?

The conduct processes address complaints of misconduct in the public interest. Complaints are dealt with thoroughly and carefully. They go through the investigation committee stage initially and may or may not proceed to a hearing; some complaints are determined at that first stage.

Cases that do proceed to the disciplinary committee for public hearing may take up to a year or more to be concluded. For further information please see the conduct process page.

I am waiting for the conclusion of my complaint so that I can take civil proceedings against my accountant.

The CIMA conduct process typically is put on hold if any criminal or civil proceedings are taking place. For further information please see the conduct process page.

What will happen to the accountant I complain about?

If the complaint is upheld, there are a range of sanctions that CIMA can impose on its members and registered students ranging from a reprimand to expulsion, depending upon the seriousness of the alleged offence. The outcome of a disciplinary hearing is published in the Institute’s journal (FM) and on the published decisions page.