Chartered Accountants were the first accountants to form a professional body, initially established in Britain in 1854. The Edinburgh Society of Accountants (formed 1854), the Glasgow Institute of Accountants and Actuaries (1854) and the Aberdeen Society of Accountants (1867) were each granted a royal charter almost from their inception. The title is an internationally recognised professional designation.
Chartered Accountants work in all fields of business and finance, including audit, taxation, financial and general management. Some are engaged in public practice work, others work in the private sector and some are employed by government bodies.
Chartered Accountants Institutes require members to undertake a minimum level of continuing professional development to stay ahead of their peers. They facilitate special interest groups – lead academic and professional thinking in accountancy. They provide support to members by offering advisory services, technical helplines and technical libraries. They offer opportunities for professional networking and career and business development.
In the United States the approximate equivalent is the certified public accountant.
Chartered Accountants in Australia belong to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia and use the designatory letters CA. Some senior members of the Institute may be elected Fellows and use the letters FCA.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB) is the national professional accounting body of Bangladesh. Established in 1973, it is the sole organisation with the right to award the Chartered Accountant designation in Bangladesh.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda works with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and is the sole organisation in Bermuda with the right to award the Chartered Accountant designation.
In Canada, Chartered Accountants belong to the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (“CICA”) by way of membership in at least one provincial/territorial institute (or ordre in Quebec). In order to become a CA, a candidate requires an undergraduate degree plus articling experience and, depending on the province, additional education. Candidates in all provinces are required to pass the 3-day Uniform Evaluation (“UFE”).
The Canadian professional designation for a Chartered Accountant is CA, with senior members having given exemplary service to the profession being able to be granted the designation FCA. The local institute/ordre may have strict regulations as to the usage of the designation by out-of-province CAs within their jurisdiction, but it is normally a straightforward matter to transfer membership from one provincial institute to another.
The CICA is one of the accounting bodies whose members qualify to become US CPAs through writing the International Qualification Examination, although with several complications. Some US states do not offer reciprocity and the ones that do often require additional education or experience before granting a CPA license to a Canadian CA.
Auditing rights are regulated by provincial governments. In British Columbia, the Business Corporations Act provides that only CAs, CGAs, or anyone who has been granted an accounting licence by the provincial regulatory body may audit public companies. In Prince Edward Island, only qualified CAs and CGAs can perform public accounting and auditing in accordance with the Public Accounting and Auditing Act. In all other provinces, except Quebec and Ontario (detailed below), only qualified CAs, CGAs, and CMAs may audit public companies.
Historically, Quebec and Ontario only allowed CAs to audit public companies. In 2004, the Ontario government passed legislation that would enable CAs, CGAs and CMAs to practice public accounting under license from the Public Accountants Council. In June 2010, CGAs were authorized to be licensed, and discussions are currently underway for enabling CMAs to attain the same status. On November 20, 2009, Quebec passed regulations granting statutory auditing rights to qualified CAs, CGAs and CMAs.
The size of the accounting bodies varies across Canada. In Ontario and Quebec, CA is larger than CGA or CMA, however CGA is the fastest growing amongst the three bodies. In Manitoba and British Columbia, CGA is the largest accounting body.
In May 2011, the CICA entered into exploratory talks with CMA Canada on the merits and feasibility of uniting the two bodies, and to consider the creation of the new designation of Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) with a related common qualification program. In October 2011, CGA Canada also joined the discussion, with several of its provincial associations having already participated in their respective jurisdictions.
Under the Mutual Recognition Directive, EEA and Swiss nationals holding a professional qualification can become members of the equivalent bodies in another member state. They must, however, pass an aptitude test in understanding local conditions (which for accountants will include local tax and company law variations).
The local title is however not available for use if the professional does not choose to join the local professional body. For example a holder of the French ‘expert comptable’ qualification could practise as an accountant in England without taking a local test but could only describe him/herself as “Expert Comptable (France)” not “Chartered Accountant”. Within the EEA, only the UK and Ireland have bodies that issue the Chartered Accountant title.
In India, the profession of chartered accountancy is regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India which was established by Parliament under the Chartered Accountants Act of 1949. Since then, the term Chartered Accountant has been used in place of Indian Registered Accountant. Prior to 1949, Restricted State Auditors were registered with the respective princely states and British provincial State Governments. However, now, the Restricted State Auditors have become redundant.
As of April 2011, ICAI had more than 170,000 registered members. It is the second largest body of professional accountants in the world after AICPA.
In Nepal, the profession of chartered accountancy is regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal which was established by Parliament under the Chartered Accountants Act 1997.
In Ireland, Chartered Accountants are generally members of Chartered Accountants Ireland and use the designatory letters ACA or FCA. Chartered Accountants may also be members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.
In New Zealand, Chartered Accountants belong to the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and use the designatory letters CA. Some senior members may be elected Fellows and use the letters FCA.
There is also a mid-tier qualification called Associate Chartered Accountant with the designatory letters ACA. Associate Chartered Accountants are not eligible to hold a Certificate of Public Practice and therefore cannot offer services to the public.
In South Africa, SAICA (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) regulates the CA(SA) designation (Chartered Accountant (South Africa)).
People seeking to qualify as a CA(SA) normally begin with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. They then complete a CTA (Certificate for Theory in Accounting), followed by part one (QE) and part two (PPE) of the qualifying exams. They must also complete three years of practical experience, working for a registered training office. Articled clerks who switch employers during this period are required to extend their training by six months.
A separate registration is needed for Chartered Accountants wishing to act as auditors in public practice, namely the RA (Registered Auditor). The RA designation is conferred by IRBA (Independent Regulatory Board For Auditors), (previously known as PAAB (Public Accountants and Auditors Board)) in terms of the Auditing Profession Act (AP Act).
Chartered Accountants who are not registered auditors may not act as or hold out to be auditors in public practice. However, the AP Act does not prohibit non-RAs from using the description ‘internal auditor’ or accountant’ or from auditing a not-for-profit club, institution or association if he or she receives no fee for such audit. The Training Outside Public Practice (TOPP) programme has a financial management focus; TOPP trainees can thus become chartered accountants with a more limited knowledge and experience of auditing than those who undergo the TIPP programme (Training In Public Practice),but with a more extensive financial management and business experience than the TIPP learners.
In South Africa the companies act has changed with effect July 2010, to allow companies without a public interest to choose between an audit or a review. A review is not an attest function and will be performed by Accountants whom are members of bodies, that are members of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). In South Africa these bodies are: ACCA, SAICA, SAIPA.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) was established on July 1, 1961 to regulate the profession of accountancy in Pakistan. It is a statutory autonomous body established under the Chartered Accountants Ordinance 1961.
As of July 2010, 5,078 persons were registered with the Institute as Chartered accountant.
Chartered Accountants in Sri Lanka belong to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka and use the designatory letters ACA. Some senior members of the Institute may be elected Fellows and use the letters FCA.
In the UK, there are no licence requirements for individuals to describe themselves or to practice as accountants, but to use the description “Chartered Accountant” they must be members of one of the following organisations:
the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) (designatory letters ACA or FCA);
the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) (designatory letters CA); or
Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI, which is an Irish rather than a UK body but covers Northern Ireland as well as the Republic of Ireland), designatory letters ACA or FCA).
(Although three other UK accounting bodies were also formed by Royal Charter, they grant separate designations to their members.)
The three Institutes above admit members, who become Chartered Accountants, only after passing examinations and undergoing a period of relevant work experience. The ICAEW requires that students complete 15 examinations as well as 450 days of relevant work experience. Once admitted, members are expected to comply with ethical guidelines and gain appropriate continuing professional development. Fully qualified members of the ICAEW and CAI earn the designation ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant). After 10 years membership, members are invited to apply for fellowship of their Institute and earn the designation FCA (Fellow Chartered Accountant).
Chartered Accountants who engage in public practice work (i.e. providing services to the public rather than acting as an employee) must gain a “practising certificate” by meeting further requirements such as purchasing adequate insurance and undergoing regular inspections.
Chartered Accountants holding practising certificates may also become “Registered Auditors”, providing they can demonstrate the necessary professional ability in that area. A Registered Auditor is able to perform statutory financial audits in accordance with the Companies Act 2006.
Further restrictions apply to accountants who work as insolvency practitioners.
Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants
Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
Chartered Accountants Ireland
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Belize
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda
Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Eastern Caribbean
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ghana
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Namibia
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sierra Leone
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe
New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
South African Institute of Chartered Accountants
Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants
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2. “Global Accounting Alliance”. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
3. “Life as a CA has many advantages”. ICA Scotland. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
4. “Why Chartered Accountancy?”. CA Ireland. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
5. “Where do Chartered Accountants work?”. ICA Australia. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
6. “Why you should join ICAEW”. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
7. Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda
8. “Your source for CA-CMA-CGA Merger Information l CPA Canada”. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
9. “CGA-Canada joining the merger talks”. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
10. Statistics – Members on 1/4/2011, retrieved from ICAI: Key statistics on 2011-10-06
11. Auditing Profession Act s37(2)
12. Auditing Profession Act s41(a)
13. Auditing Profession Act s41(3)