Business finance advice scheme

The UK Government is seeking to promote growth and entrepreneurship in small businesses and the view is that qualified accountants who deal with small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) on a regular basis have the ideal skills and experience to help businesses achieve their goals in what are difficult economic times.

ICAS is therefore working with other professional bodies (the ICAEW and ACCA) and the Government to provide a new service that will help businesses find advice on obtaining finance from qualified accountants. This new service is called the Business Finance Advice Scheme (BFA). Firms that are members of the BFA will be able to use a government endorsed "kitemark" to promote their services.

Firms taking part in the scheme will be included in a directory of participating firms from which SMEs will be able to choose. The scheme is free to join. 

Raising awareness of the scheme

Firms that join the BFA will be able to use the kitemark on their marketing materials, website, letterheads and other documents such as business cards. ICAS will be undertaking some external promotion of the scheme in due course. Firms will also be provided with window stickers to demonstrate their participation in the scheme.

Conducting regulated investment business

Firms may only conduct regulated investment business if they are regulated by the Financial Services Authority or a Designated Professional Body (DPB) such as ICAS. Firms therefore need to be mindful if there is a chance that this type of work may fall under "investment business", and in these circumstances would need to ensure that they are authorised to perform this work. Firms that are unsure of what work may fall under investment business should consult the help sheet on this topic which can be accessed below.

Investment Business help sheet PDF [150 KB] 

Designated Professional Body guidance <link to DPB, under Reg & Ethics)

How can I join?

Joining information can be obtained by emailing

Firms can join the scheme if they are able to offer SMEs advice in the four following areas:

Business plans

Involves the review and preparation of a business plan from the start, establishing its purpose, how it will develop and who its target audience is, through the journey of its uses.

Business start-ups

Covers the requirements of a start-up business and considers the most appropriate forms of finance. It will include personal funding of a new business that may come from any assets that the entrepreneur has, including personal savings. It also includes finance from friends and family.

Small scale equity issues

Covers finance raised from director shareholders, without making a public offering. It will also include consideration of the tax incentives and conditions that are available under the Government's enterprise initiatives, such as the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs).

Bank loans and overdrafts

Involves the funding options available and how applications for loans and overdrafts should be structured, the security that might be required from the applicant, and the likelihood of success of an application given the borrower's track record. Consideration of the appropriateness of business support scheme options, such as the National Loan Guarantee Scheme (NLGS) and Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme, is also a requirement.


  • Practice hub

Previous page