Since 1996, the term “chartered certified accountant” has been used to define a British qualified accountant and is awarded to qualified applicants by the Association of Chartered Accountants. This elite group of accountants, granted Royal Charter by the Queen, specializes in business accounting, management accounting, financial accounting and even forensic accounting, among others. While many choose to take the private business route, others prefer the organized confines of a government agency.
Not surprisingly, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, or ACCA, is the world’s fastest growing accountancy groups. Currently, there are more than 140,000 members, more than 400,000 affiliates and the association is present in at least 150 countries. The group is headquartered out of London, England and dates back to the early 1900s. It initially began as the London Association of Accountants and its goal was to provide transparency in the financial industry. It was not until 1930, however, that the group was finally given the green light to audit companies. After several merges and reformations, in 1974, the Royal Charter was extended and in 1995, the name that is now known was bestowed onto the association and the elite members were allowed to use the designated Chartered Certified Accountant.
The standards are the highest found in any country in the world and current qualifications include fourteen professional examinations, thirty six months of supervised accountancy experience and upon completion of Part 2 of the Professional Scheme, a degree in Applied Accounting is then required from students. The minimum guidelines are quite definitive and unyielding. While there are the occasional exemptions from at least part of the fourteen examinations, students are required to prove their knowledge in financial accounting, management accounting, taxation, company law, financial management, corporate reporting, audit and assurance and financial reporting prior to any exemptions being extended.
A new syllabus, passed in December 2007 and put into effect right away, updated the qualifications as a result of the accountancy field and its advances. It is not uncommon, and in fact, is even expected, every several years and in accordance with the changes and updates in a global financial market. At one time, examinations were held on an annual basis; now, however, they are held bi-annually and in several countries. It is likely this could change as well as demand dictates from an ever expanding field.
Besides the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, legal acknowledgement of the ACCA is left to each country. Members are afforded the option, in those countries that choose not to acknowledge the association, to apply for advanced standing when applicable. And too, there are those countries that don’t require this application and simply choose to extend the courtesy.
Finally, the ACCA offers its members certain access to those committees that acknowledge the body. The Financial Services Institute of Australasia recently signed a partnership agreement, as has the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Chartered Institute of Taxation and those professional bodies in Canada, the United States and several other European countries.