In today’s fast-evolving digital environment, the online presence of organizations and institutions has become an essential part of their daily operations. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), a statutory body established by an Act of the Indian Parliament, recognizes the critical importance of a strong online presence. This presence allows them to share information, interact with their stakeholders, and maintain professional standards. To ensure that their online footprint aligns with their core values and upholds the highest standards of integrity, the ICAI has established comprehensive Website Guidelines.
These guidelines serve as a roadmap for effectively managing, developing and maintaining websites associated with the ICAI. They outline crucial considerations regarding content, design, security, and functionality. In this advisory, we will explore the key aspects of adhering to the ICAI’s Website Guidelines. We will underscore the significance of following these standards in an era where the online sphere plays a pivotal role in communication, education, and accountability.
As the ICAI takes proactive steps to enhance its digital presence, it becomes imperative for all its stakeholders, including members, students, and affiliates, to understand and embrace the Website Guidelines. This is essential for maintaining the Institute’s reputation for professionalism and reliability in the digital world. This advisory aims to emphasize the importance of compliance with the ICAI’s Website Guidelines and offers guidance to help stakeholders navigate the digital landscape while upholding the Institute’s principles.
Please note that it’s essential to consult the latest guidelines provided by the ICAI or their official website for specific and up-to-date information regarding compliance with their website guidelines.
CA, CS Lawyer & Accounting Websites for Your Firm
Advisory about compliance with the Institute’s ICAI Website Guidelines
Members are reminded of the Council’s issuance of ICAI Website Guidelines in 2001, subject to periodic revisions. The latest revisions, made during the 388th Council Meeting on February 6th and 7th, 2020, can be found on page 143 of Volume II of the 2020 Code of Ethics, accessible on the Institute’s website at https://resource.cdn.icai.org/60018code-of-ethics-2020vol2.pdf. These Guidelines are also available on the Ethical Standards Board’s website, esb.icai.org.
It’s important to note that Clause (6) and Clause (7) of Part-I of the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949, prohibit solicitation and advertisement, respectively. The Council has carefully formulated the Website Guidelines to enable members and firms to maintain their websites in compliance with these clauses.
Furthermore, compliance with the Council’s Guidelines is mandatory as per Clause (1) of Part II of the Second Schedule to the Act. Failure to comply with any Council-issued Guidelines is considered professional misconduct under the provisions of the aforementioned Clause.
In addition, members are encouraged to review the Institute’s Announcement from March 2014, available on the Institute’s website at https://www.icai.org/post.html?post_id=10584, which clarifies that sharing details of Chartered Accountants firms for ranking purposes is not permissible.
Given the context provided above, it is essential to highlight that the following contents and features on the websites of both members and firms are strictly prohibited:
- Specify the Names of clients / Client Logo
- Writing of Firm name in a way equivalent to Logo/Monogram
- Specify the professional fees or the particular of furnishing the services at zero cost.
- Via the use of Photographs excluding than passport style, including Event galleries of Photographs
- Through the usage of expressions like “Leading Firm”/”Best Firm”/ “Top Firm”
- Stating a connection with government offices,
- Discuss engagements in unauthorized businesses or professions, such as real estate or healthcare, which are prohibited for practising members.
- Discussing permissible additional business or professional pursuits for practising members, like referencing books authored or teaching activities conducted by the member in question. (As the website is intended for promoting the professional services of members exclusively, it should not be used to showcase other business or occupational ventures undertaken by them.)
- Reference to activities that go beyond the scope permitted for practising members, such as “Arrangement of Loans” (practising members are authorized to serve as financial advisors according to Regulation 191 of the Chartered Accountants Regulations, 1988).
- Inclusion of links to organizations that fall outside the approved categories, such as commercial companies.
- Sharing videos that do not have an educational purpose, for example, firm profiles election campaign promotions, etc.
- Making subjective claims, such as “having a presence/associates in major cities,” “possessing a well-equipped conference room,” or offering “the best quality services in the market,” etc.
- Describing corporate social responsibility (CSR) contributions or donations made by the firm.
- Indicating any form of affiliation with national or international organizations, for example, the United Nations.
- Specifying any awards received by the CA firm.
- Reporting any grades assigned to the firm by organizations, including regulatory bodies or survey agencies, such as “Tier 2 Firm.”
- Referring to a specific role instead of a professional service, like “Training” (which may be provided to existing clients with a professional service but cannot be listed as a standalone service).
- Listing the professional services of the firm in a push mode or on a website operating using push technology.
- Citing media coverage of the firm.
- Highlighting the association of a member with the Institute, such as serving as a Special Invitee in an Institute Committee.
- Displaying testimonials that include client names.
- Displaying ISO certification or any other form of accreditation (CA firms can obtain ISO certification, but it cannot be publicly mentioned).
- Using the logo of a government department or program, such as the Startup India logo.
- Posting updates that are not related to professional updates, such as content about movies, and national and international news.
- Listing empanelment with any organization, whether it’s for audit or other assignments.
- Mentioning the firm’s involvement in social activities.
- Including features like “Why choose us” on the website.
- Making references to or associating with other firms where the proprietor or partner of the firm may also be a partner.
- Advertising any commodity, service, or entity.
Please be aware that the list provided is not comprehensive. To ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act and the Code of Ethics, members are strongly encouraged to align their websites with the Website Guidelines. This includes the removal of any content or features that do not adhere to these guidelines.
The official announcement is on the link https://icai.org/post/advisory-website-guidelines-of-the-institute where you can access all the information.