On 1 April 2016 the CAA’s ATOL Reporting Accountant (ARA) scheme officially went live. Here are the 2 things you need to know and the next steps you need to take to make sure you comply.
1. What is an ARA?
The scheme was first announced back in 2014 as part of the CAA’s Rebalancing ATOL consultation and is part of the CAA’s wider attempt to educate accountants on the details of the ATOL scheme and to improve the quality and reliability of the information they report.
To qualify as an ARA, accountants will have to register with their governing accountancy institute and must pass the online CAA test similar to the ATOL Accountable Person test.
Going forwards, all ATOL reporting must now be signed by an ARA.
You can find more information on the ARA scheme on the CAA’s website.
2. What do you need to do?
First things first, you should immediately check the CAA’s published list to see if your accountant is already registered as an ARA.
At the time of writing, there were over 400 registered ARAs but if your accountant is not one of them, you have 3 options:
A. You can ask your current accountant to register as an ARA with their institute. The requirements and costs for your accountant of doing this will vary depending on which institute they belong to, and how big their firm is. They will need to sit a test, and they are likely to need to pay additional fees to their institute.
B. If your current accountant is unwilling or unable to register as an ARA, you could appoint an ARA solely for the purposes of signing off your CAA forms. We understand some of the ARAs listed on the CAA’s site would be prepared to do this.
C. If neither of these options is suitable, you will need to appoint a new accountant. Bear in mind that the engagement process can take time to set up.
Whatever option you decide, be sure to act quickly. From 1 April 2016, the CAA will reject any ATOL reporting unless they are signed by a suitably qualified ARA and they are unlikely to renew your ATOL at your next renewal date.