Many small businesses offer services and skills that require individuals to be certified by professional trade associations.
In some sectors membership is a legal requirement, such as the Gas Safe register for Gas Engineers or Part P registered with NICEIC or NAPIT for domestic electricians. In others the professional status can be blurred as neither qualifications nor membership is always necessary, such as corporate finance, estate agency, valuation and accountancy services. Despite this some aspects of these activities are regulated hence the minefield of professional status.
The benefit to small businesses of their individuals having such membership is considerable. It means they can offer reassurance to clients about a level of expertise. Trade bodies also provide support for members such as providing advice, offering continuous professional development (CPD) and regular updates on developments within their specific industry. It can also make recruitment and employee reviews that much easier by reference to the qualification, the qualifying body and maintenance of CPD records.
Where membership is not compulsory a business may find a problem with insuring its activities such that the lack of qualification can result in expensive or useless insurance.
Increasingly sophisticated clients ask for insurance although this is not necessary for those who are regulated as indemnity insurance is a condition of such regulation and underwritten by the professional trade body.
The holding of tenant deposits by letting agents or client money by lawyers are two such areas where clients ought to check they are dealing with a regulated firm.
Please let us have your thoughts on professional trade bodies.