Simpleweb built what is now the only search engine for finding registered chartered accountants and organisations in England and Wales.

“We were looking for a partner and Simpleweb delivered exactly that. In fact, it was the best relationship we’ve ever had with a supplier” Ellen Ward, Project Manager, ICAEW

The brief

The The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales offers a directory of chartered accountants and organisations in England and Wales which, at the time, was ran through three websites all linking up to multiple databases.

It was confusing for their users, who didn’t necessarily know which website would best serve their needs.

Our mission was to aggregate the existing sites through which people could search ICAEW’s database for registered members, and pull them together into one place.

The solution

Simpleweb teamed up with ICAEW’s project manager Ellen, and her team, to create ‘Find a chartered accountant’, a clean and intuitive search engine, made up of four webpages:

  • Search engine home page
  • Page listing the search results in which the user can filter by ‘ICAEW Chartered Accountants’ and ‘Firms’, as well as licensed areas
  • Individual web pages displayed for firms
  • Individual web pages displayed for accountants 

Building a spec

With ICAEW looking to soon consolidate their back-end systems, the new site needed to be tech agnostic – both fixing their short-term problem but flexible enough that it could be easily accessible from any technology.

That said, FaCA is a service based on a huge database from the global Institute and, with a complex IT team of their own, we needed to come up with a simple solution to allow us to pull all the relevant data into the new one-stop search engine.

To make this work, our back-end developer David wrote a technical specification for the ICAEW’s IT team that, like a universal language, they could easily interpret and build on.

Using the spec as a framework, their team were able to build the tool that allowed the new site to plug into their database of accountants with practically zero disruption to their operations from us.


Flexibility in search

The ICAEW’s previous search engine also relied on their users knowing what they wanted to search for. For example, they would need a full name to return the address of a registered accountant. If they spelt the name wrong they would likely get incorrect results, or even no results at all.

Using Elasticsearch, in this case, means the user can input limited information, such as a first name and location, and return a set of results that truly reflect what they are looking for.

During this part of the project we were in regular contact with the ICAEW team to ensure the search algorithms were adjusted well so as to return the expected results for both the organisation and their users.

The result

The team were impressed with our simple solution to a complex problem and the way in which we communicated the technical aspects of the project clearly and without any jargon. As a result, they now run the only search engine for chartered accountants and firms in England and Wales.

Through the FaCA tool, users can now search within their database of over 150,000 chartered accountants.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales is a professional membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports chartered accountants and students across the world. In 2019, it has over 181,000 members and students in 148 countries.

Further reading

The only directory of chartered accountants in England and Wales