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 professionally competitive. They facilitate special interest groups (for instance, entertainment and media, or insolvency and restructuring) which lead in their fields. They provide support to members by offering advisory services, technical helplines and technical libraries. They also offer opportunities for professional networking and career and business development.
Chartered Accountants in Australia belong to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and use the designatory letters CA. Some senior members (at least 10 years' membership) of the Institute may be elected Fellows and use the letters FCA. Of equal legal status and recognition in Australia as Qualified Professional Accountants are Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) and CPA Australia
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB) is the national professional accounting body of Bangladesh. Established in 1973, it is the sole organization 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 Ontario, Chartered Accountants belong to the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants ("CICA") by way of membership in at least one provincial/territorial institute (or order in Quebec).In order to become a CA, a candidate requires an undergraduate degree plus experience and, depending on the province, additional education. Candidates in all provinces are required to pass the 3-day Uniform Evaluation ("UFE"). As of January 2013, Canadian CA's have adopted the CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) designation. Now CICA, CGA and CMA (all three accounting bodies in canada) are in process of unification.
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.
ICAP is a professional body of Chartered Accountants in Pakistan, and represents accountants employed in public practice, business and industry, and the public and private sectors. The Institute is a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) which is the global organization for the accountancy profession.
ICAP has approx.as 5,322 members.
In India, the profession of chartered accountancy is regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India which was established by an act of Parliament under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949. 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.
ICAI continues to keep the membership alive through yearly payment of prescribed fees. Associate member of the ICAI are entitled to use the prefix 'CA' to their name from 07-08-2009. Further, members who are in full-time practice, and have completed 5 years of practice, can add 'FCA' as a prefix to their names.
As of December 2013[update], ICAI had more than 200,000 registered members. It has three levels - CPT (Common Proficiency Test), IPCC (Integrated Professional Competence Course) and the CA Final Exam. On clearing the second level, one is required to serve 3 year training period as Article Clerk in an Auditing Firm, or under a senior auditor. After the final exams also there is one month communication training.
In Nepal, the profession of chartered accountancy is regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal ICAN which was established by Parliament under the Chartered Accountants Act 1997.
After completion of three level of examination CAP I, CAP II, and CAP III with 3 years of Article ship Training under qualified CA, one can get the membership of ICAN and with the COP one can practice as professional body.
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.
The Chartered Accountant of Singapore (CA (Singapore)) title is protected under the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) Act and the Singapore Qualification Programme (Singapore QP), a pathway to obtain the CA (Singapore) designation is owned by the SAC, a statutory board of the Singapore Government. The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) is a designated entity in the SAC Act and confers the CA (Singapore) designation on behalf of SAC.
The Singapore QP comprises of 3 components, namely: academic base, professional programme and practical experience. To attain the CA (Singapore) designation, Candidates will have to complete 3 years of relevant practical work experience, under the supervision of an Approved Mentor, and with a Training Agreement at an Accredited Training Organisation (ATO) .
The ISCA is also the Administrator of the Singapore QP. ISCA works closely with the SAC in raising the profile of the Singapore QP, helping it to attain international recognition, and promote it as the educational pathway of choice for professional accountants.
In South Africa, SAICA (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) regulates the CA (SA) designation (Chartered Accountant (South Africa)).
To qualify as a CA (SA) one requires a specialised bachelor's degree in accounting, followed by a Certificate in the Theory of Accounting, or CTA; depending on the university, this is offered as a postgraduate honours degree, or as a postgraduate diploma. This formal education is followed by two external exams set by SAICA. The first one being ITC (Initial test of competence) [ITC since 2013; previously, Qualifying Exam 1 - QE1) usually written before starting articles and the second being APC (Assessment of professional competence) [APC will be written for the first time at the end of 2014 - it used to be called Professional Practice Exam - PPE] usually written at the end of year 2 of articles.
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).
Candidates must complete three years of practical experience, working for a registered training office - the Training In Public Practice (TIPP) programme. Articled clerks who switch employers during this period are required to extend their training by six months. 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, but with a more extensive financial management and business experience than the TIPP learners.
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.
In South Africa the Companies Act was replaced, with effect July 2010, to allow companies without a public interest to choose between an audit or an independent review. A review is not an attest function and will be performed by Accountants who are members of bodies, that are registered in terms of Close Corporation Act of 1984. In South Africa these bodies includes: SAIBA, CIMA, ACCA, SAICA, SAIPA.
Chartered Accountants in Sri Lanka belong to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA 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 practise 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 Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) (designatory letters ACCA or FCCA);
- 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 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.
List of institutes of Chartered Accountants
- Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants
- Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
- Certified General Accountants (Canada)
- 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 Certified accountants of UK
- 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 Singapore Chartered Accountants
- 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
- Perks, R.W. (1993). Accounting and Society. London: Chapman & Hall. p. 16. ISBN 0-412-47330-5.
- "Life as a CA has many advantages". ICA Scotland. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- "Why Chartered Accountancy?". CA Ireland. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- "Where do Chartered Accountants work?". ICA Australia. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- "Benefits of joining the ICAEW". Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- "About membership and inclusions". ICAA. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "Advancement to Fellowship". ICAA. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda
- , retrieved from  on 2014-02-05
- Auditing Profession Act s37(2)
- Auditing Profession Act s41(a)
- Auditing Profession Act s41(3)