The move follows the announcement earlier this month that medium-sized firm Kingston Smith had gained similar authorisation from ICAEW and had entered into the record books as the first firm to be recognised by a non-legal regulatory body.
Hope Shaw, which is based in Sherborne, Dorset, was set up in 1994 to fill a gap in the market for a value for money “fixed fee” accounting service, known as the Simplified Company Accounts Service.
This is still an important part of the business, according to sole practitioner David Robinson, although the practice now offers a full range of accounting and tax services to clients around the UK and as far afield as New Zealand, Thailand and Hong Kong.
Being able to offer probate services, he says, is a logical add-on particularly as some of his clients are ageing. “At this firm, we are very much part of the extended family and it gives me and my team immense job satisfaction to help our customers, many of whom I have known for a number of years.”
He also says that solicitors’ fees locally are ridiculously high – in one instance a client with a simple straightforward will was being charged £11,000 – and that his services will cost less than half the hourly rate solicitors charge.
Hope Shaw was involved in the pilot scheme that ICAEW ran to iron out any glitches in the authorisation and licensing process and Robinson sat and passed the requisite probate exams in May.
“Hope Shaw is exactly the type of firm that we wanted to apply to do probate work and why ICAEW became a licensing authority and regulator,” commented Vernon Soare, ICAEW executive director.
“It makes sense for practices such as Hope Shaw to provide this extra service when they are already providing inheritance tax and succession planning advice.”