Volunteer FAQs

  1. What is CAVA?

    CAVA stands for Chartered Accountants Ireland Voluntary Advice service. It provides a team of volunteer Chartered Accountants to give free advice on financial matters to people in business who cannot afford to pay for the services of an accountant.

  2. Who does CAVA help?

    The CAVA service is aimed at self-employed people who are in financial difficulties and need the advice of a qualified Chartered Accountant. Typically, these people are:

    • Sole traders
    • Owners of small companies
    • Owners of business start-ups
    • Landlords
  3. Is CAVA a voluntary service?

    Yes, it is an entirely voluntary service that Chartered Accountants undertake. This advice provided to clients is free, and no fees should be charged in respect of the agreed work for CAVA.

  4. What does a CAVA volunteer advise on?

    A CAVA volunteer can be asked to advise on a number of business topics only. (Any personal financial issues on behalf of the client can be assisted through their local MABS office.)

    This list of topics CAVA volunteers advise on includes:

    • starting a new business
    • the extent of the total debts of the business
    • the value of the total assets of the business
    • the income and cashflow position of the business
    • how to prepare a statement of affairs
    • how to prepare annual accounts
    • the person’s income tax position
    • the person’s VAT position
    • the person’s gift/inheritance tax position
    • the person’s capital gains tax position
    • the person’s stamp duty position
    • the company’s tax position
    • the tax implications of a lump sum given on redundancy
    • tax advice in respect of any other issues, as they arise
    • general advice in relation to the above and ancillary matters.

       

  5. Is there advice a CAVA volunteer does not provide?

    As a CAVA volunteer, you do not provide advice on any personal financial issues. Personal financial issues should be resolved by the client with their local Monday Advice and Budget Service (MABS) office.

    As a CAVA volunteer, you will not carry out an audit of the client’s business (or their company, if any), nor will the CAVA volunteer assume any responsibility or liability in relation to any audit.

  6. How does CAVA work?

    Business people seeking support can contact their local Citizens Information Service (CIS) or their local Money Advice and Budget Service (MABS) office. CAVA is then contacted by the CIS or MABS office. CAVA assigns a volunteer member to meet with the client by appointment only for a consultation.

    Consultations with clients are known as ‘CAVA Clinics’. Clinics can take place in any location that suits both the client and the CAVA volunteer.

    Specific evenings are set aside each month for CAVA Clinics.  Consultations are usually arranged for the duration of an hour, although they may not take that long.

     
  7. How long is a consultation?

    CAVA volunteers must offer a preliminary one-hour consultation with a client. Some consultations do not take as long as that.

  8. What if complex or time-consuming advice is required?

    If the CAVA volunteer believes that, due to the circumstances, the complexity or workload involved, it would be more appropriate for a client to get advice from another advisor, the CAVA volunteer should let the client know. 

    If the client wishes, the CAVA volunteer can provide him or her with the names of at least three people or firms with whom he or she has no business or personal interests. It should be explained to the client that it is possible that this new advisor may charge fees and, if so, the CAVA volunteer should strongly recommend that the client agree these fees in advance.

  9. Is there a need for client identification and Anti Money Laundering (AML) Reporting?

    In accordance with the Criminal Justice Act 1994 (Section 32) Regulations 2003, CAVA is required to report all knowledge or suspicion, or reasonable grounds to know or suspect, that a criminal offence giving rise to any direct or indirect benefit from criminal conduct has been committed, regardless of whether that offence has been committed by a client or by a third party. 

    If, as part of CAVA’s normal work, a volunteer has knowledge or suspicion, or has reasonable grounds to know or suspect that such events have occurred or offences been committed, that volunteer is required to make a report to the Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners. 

    In such circumstances, it is not the practice of CAVA to discuss such reports with the client because of the restrictions imposed by the ‘tipping off’ provisions of the anti-money laundering legislation. 

  10. Is there any personal liability involved?

    Neither the CAVA volunteer, CAVA, Chartered Accountants Ireland nor its district societies will be liable for any loss suffered by CIS or the clients as a result of advice given by the CAVA volunteers. 

    CIS/MABS will not be liable for any loss suffered by the clients or CAVA as a result of advice given by the CAVA volunteers.

    CAVA and/or CIS/MABS will not be liable for any liability, loss (direct or indirect), awards, claims, proceedings, actions, damages, costs or expenses whatsoever which the CAVA client may incur arising out of this service.

  11. Do I need to keep the client’s records?

    It is not the practice for CAVA to retain any original documents provided by the clients.  However, if records are retained in order to enable CAVA to provide the advice, they should be returned to the client within two months of receiving them.

    As a volunteer there is a small amount of paperwork for information purposes on the CAVA service. Our CAVA Executive, Fiona Collins, is available to explain the requirements.

  12. What should I become a CAVA volunteer?

    Chartered Accountants who volunteer their time find that there are many benefits to being part of the CAVA programme:

    • ‘giving something back’ to your community or society
    • gaining valuable training and experience
    • making use of special interests and talents
    • learning new skills and/or developing new interests
    • meeting new people with similar interests
    • finding out more about an area of work you are considering as a career
    • having a chance to take some responsibility and make decisions
    • being an active citizen
    • making a difference to people and the community

     

  13. What support is available to me if I volunteer?

    CAVA values and acknowledges the importance of volunteers' work. We support our volunteers in a number of ways, including:

    • providing a CAVA Executive
    • using a structured Volunteer Policy and Guidelines
    • providing resource materials
    • providing disclaimers for volunteers to help manage client expectations
    • providing induction and orientation sessions
    • organising shadowing sessions
    • Data collection programme
    • providing training sessions (attracting CPD points)
    • providing one-on-one support to volunteers
    • providing advice on insurance cover
    • organising networking events
    • running volunteer awards
  14. What do I do if I have any queries during the process?

    Please contact Fiona Collins, CAVA Executive, at any stage with any queries that you may have.

  15. What happens if I no longer want to participate as a volunteer?

    If at any stage, you decide that you no longer want to continue as a volunteer for the CAVA Service, please contact Fiona Collins, CAVA Executive, who will help to arrange for your involvement to cease.