Association of Accounting Technicians
The Association of Accounting Technicians, or AAT, is an accountancy organisation with over 120,000 members worldwide. It was created by the merger of two founding institutes in 1980: the Institute of Accounting Staff (then a subsidiary of ACCA) and the Association of Technicians in Finance and Accounting (then a subsidiary of CIPFA). It is a technician level qualification which entitles those who have completed the exams and obtained relevant supervised work experience to call themselves accountants. The AAT is based in London but there are branches all over the UK and the rest of the world.
The body is sponsored by four of the UK chartered accountancy bodies. These are: CIPFA, ICAEW, CIMA and ICAS
AAT versus CAT
The one UK accountancy body which does not sponsor the AAT is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). This organisation used to be a sponsor of the AAT but broke away in order to form a rival qualification called the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) award. The ACCA implemented this policy as it wanted a technician level qualification which followed the same business model as itself.
AAT in Scotland
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland is also keen that the AAT qualification fits into its own business model. It presently has no plans to develop an ICAS technician qualification in direct competition with the AAT's UK model as proposed by some in the late 1990s. Crucially it has remained a sponsoring body since the inception of the AAT. Some of the ICAS membership are keen to go down a fully branded ICAS Technician route. To date the ICAS branding of AAT in Scotland is producing tangible results given the strength of both organisations.
AAT in South Africa
- See: South African Institute of Chartered Accountants #AAT (SA) - The Associate Accounting Technician.
The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in South Africa decided to sponsor the AAT program and expand it in South Africa since 2011. AAT(SA) has no signatory powers for any of its South African members, this is because there is not sufficient audit content within the qualification offered. SAICA and AAT are working towards gaining authority in a number of other areas, such as Commissioner of Oaths and Review status. This sort of authority does take time to approve and the new South African Company Legislation is also not yet finalised.
Since 2010 each level of the AAT qualification has a number of modules, each of which culminate in an on-line computer based assessment.
The AAT Intermediate qualification (S/NVQ 3 level) has become the first vocational qualification to be approved for the university entrance points system with a value higher than an A grade at A-level. The NVQ is credited at 160 UCAS points (40 more than an "A" in A-Level). The final AAT qualification, AAT Technician, is equivalent to S/NVQ level 4.
Accounting Technicians, when certified as being experienced and competently qualified, can perform exactly the same tasks in a financial environment as most qualified Chartered Accountants. The main differences being that in the UK Accounting Technicians can not sign off companies audit reports and until very recently needed Reporting Accountant status in order to examine and sign off the financial accounts for audit exempt charities. The 'old' Reporting Accountant status quickly became obsolete due to changes first in the Companies Act,and finally and most recently the Charities Act 2006. Due to the latter legislation, certain AAT Members In Practice, (not all but a great deal more than before Reporting Accountant standard) are recognised by the DTI to sign off the Independent Review of charity accounts. An Independent Review is similar in status to that work which an AAT member could undertake under the old Reporting Accountant standard. The obsoletion of Reporting Accountant has instigated calls from senior members of the Association, for their body to recognise these more senior members' qualifications and work experience with some new distinguishing status. The matter was taken up by the AAT in early 2007,but to date nothing new has been announced by the AAT.
If an AAT member is also a qualified Chartered Accountant then they are not automatically licenced as an AAT Member In Practice. It is up to such members to choose their preferred regulator and apply for an appropriate practising licence/certificate etc. CA does not supersede AAT in respect of a practising certificate. AAT is a recognised professional qualification, separate from, but working together, for the furthering of the accounting profession, with colleagues, from all the main chartered accountancy AAT sponsoring bodies,and others such as the ACCA.
Areas of Vocational Expertise and Academic Competence
Accounting Technicians perform similar work based tasks to those members of its sponsoring bodies the main exclusion being that it is not possible for an AAT Member to sign off an auditor's report. However, they can, if additionally they hold a practising certificate with one of the sponsoring bodies regulated and authorised to produce audit reports. The AAT is now one of the accountancy bodies in the UK allowed to let its suitably experienced and qualified members perform independent examinations of charities accounts, subject to the audit exemption thresholds for incorporated charities.
See also 'Qualifications' above.
Employer Accreditation A New AAT employer accreditation scheme recognises employers with a positive and planned approach to the professional development of their AAT members, whether through studying for an AAT qualification or, once qualified, supporting them in their continuing professional development.
AAT Accredited Employer Scheme shows employers' commitment to their staff and their professional development. More importantly it provides the employer with a range of benefits including:
Full and fellow members will automatically meet their mandatory CPD requirements by following their employer's training and development processes Support in managing student member's Advice on trainee recruitment and funding AAT Accredited Employer logo and certificate.
Current list of AAT Accredited Employers is available at http://www.aat.org.uk/sites/default/files/assets/AAT-accredited-employers-directory.pdf
- Key Facts and Trends in the UK Accountancy Profession - July 2007
- AAT website
- AAT's discussion forums
- AAT's blog, AAT Comment
- AAT Ethics site
- AAT on Facebook
- AAT on Twitter
- AAT on LinkedIn