Institute of Financial Accountants

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Institute of Financial Accountants
Established 1916 (1916)
Type Professional Association
Professional title
Incorporated Financial Accountant (FFA or AFA)
Headquarters The Podium, 1 Eversholt Street, Euston, London, NW1 2DN United Kingdom
Region served
Services Accountancy
Key people
John Edwards (CEO), Catherine Chamberlain (Chairman), Sir Bryan Nicholson (Patron)
Subsidiaries Federation of Tax Advisers (FTA)
Slogan To be the lead international professional body for accountants primarily serving small and medium business enterprises

The Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) is one of the largest professional body representing financial accountants in the United Kingdom as well as abroad. It is the largest of the non-chartered bodies of accountants with over 8,000 members in over 80 countries. It sets both technical and ethical standards for its members within the accounting profession. The IFA is a full member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).

IFA put small and medium enterprises (SMEs) first, recognising their role as vital wealth-creators, as employers to more than half of the UK’s private sector workforce and as the power behind vibrant urban and rural communities. They hold the interests of small and medium practices (SMPs) in the accounting profession in equal regard.

The Institute's headquarters are located in Euston, London, England since 17 April 2015, it's previous address was in Sevenoaks, Kent, England. In addition, the IFA has representatives in offices around the world.


The IFA was established in 1916 and is the oldest non-chartered accountancy body in the world.

A timeline of key dates in the history of the IFA and its predecessor bodies is:[1]

  • 1916 : Institute of Book-keepers
  • 1967 : Institute of Book-keepers and Related Data Processing
  • 1974 : Institute of Administrative Accounting and Data Processing
  • 1982 : Institute of Administrative Accountants
  • 1988 : Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA)
  • 2009 : The Federation of Tax Advisers (FTA) merged with the IFA to become part of the IFA Group.[2]
  • 2015 : IFA amalgamated with Australia’s Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) and became part of the IPA Group.

IFA council & Patron[edit]

The IFA council is responsible for governance of the Institute, it is made up of thirteen members. The current chairman of the council is Catherine Chamberlain, it's previous chairman was Eric Anstee since 2007 (a former Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales). Robin Liddell is the Immediate Past President, Nick Rawlins is the Deputy Chair of Council and Lorraine Young is the Company Secretary.

The current IFA Patron is Sir Bryan Nicholson, he is a former President of the CBI as well as Chairman and Chief Executive of the Post Office, Chairman of BUPA and The Cookson Group. Right Honourable Earl of Westmeath is the former Patron of the IFA.

Admission to membership[edit]

To be admitted to membership of the IFA, applicants must generally complete a period of relevant work experience (training) and pass a series of examinations.[3][4][5] Applicants can also be admitted to membership by way of exemption or by accreditation of prior learning. The Institute recognises there are many ways of acquiring knowledge and proving competence which may be proven in different ways.

As a consequence IFA provides three flexible routes to membership:

  • By IFA qualification
  • By professional recognition, where recognition is given to other relevant qualifications already held
  • By recognition of prior experience, where workplace experience is evaluated (available in the UK only).


The IFA is recognised by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). Ofqual regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland and grants formal recognition to bodies and organisations that deliver qualifications and assessments.[6] Dependent upon prior education or experience and where in their career they are individuals may follow one of the following:

  • Level 4 Award for SME Tax Advisers (QCF)
  • Level 4 Award for SME Financial Accounting (International Standards) (QCF)
  • Level 4 Diploma for Financial Accountants (QCF)
  • Level 5 Diploma for Financial Managers (QCF)
  • Level 5 Diploma for Finance and Business Managers (QCF)
  • The Diploma in IFRS for Accounting Professionals

The Institute of Financial Accountants are working with the educational providers listed below by endorsing the following accounting or tax learning programmes.

  • IFA Endorsed Sage Award and Sage Certificate with Accountancy Learning and Sage
  • IFA Endorsed Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax Diplomas with Tolley

Membership categories[edit]

There are three levels of IFA membership:[7]

  • Fellow (FFA)
  • Associate (AFA)
  • Financial Accounting Executive (FAE/Dip FA) - Formerly Financial Accounting Technician (AFT)

  • Students studying towards an IFA accounting qualification can join the Institute's Student Register.


Affiliates are not voting members of the IFA, but are a particular category representing specialist areas of professionalism within the IFA Group. For example the Federation of Tax Advisers (FTA) members are also IFA affiliates by virtue of their tax specialisation.

Retired States

Any IFA members are in receipt of a pension but are still working part time (no more than 2½ days a week).

Lifetime Membership

Any IFA members are in a receipt of a pension and are either fully retired or carry out voluntary work,

Both Fellow member (FFA) and Associate member (AFA) of the Institute are entitled to describe themselves as Incorporated Financial Accountants.

Members in Employment

IFA members employed in business are qualified financial accountants who chiefly work for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Members are employed in industry, commerce, the public sector and public practice, are regulated and adhere to the highest level of quality and ethical practice.

Members in Practice

A substantial number of the IFA’s members are in practice as “external accountants” (ie doing accountancy work for people or companies who are not their employers), tax advisers or company service providers. All members in Practice must be members of the IFA, and if they carry out public practice engagements, must comply with additional regulations such as holding a practising certificate and adequate professional indemnity insurance. At present, the IFA does not regulate its practising members outside the United Kingdom.

IFA members who have a practising certificate with the IFA must register with the IFA for Anti-Money Laundering supervision.

The IFA requires all members (IFA and FTA) to be committed to maintaining the highest professional and technical standards by undertaking appropriate Continuing Professional Development (CPD) relevant to their role and career.


IFA members are approved and recognised by Her Majesty’s Treasury (HM Treasury) as supervisors for the purpose of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation 2007.

In 2015, UK Cabinet Office to recognise full IFA listing of Charity Accounts. Full members of the IFA, Associate member (AFA) and Fellow Member (FFA), will be eligible to undertake independent examinations for charities in England and Wales with income above £250,000 (up to the revised threshold of £1 million) under section 145 of the Charities Act 2011.

University links[edit]

In 2003, the IFA agreed to grant membership to accountancy graduates from the Bolton Institute, now the University of Bolton, where the course includes vocational aspects.[8] This strategic alliance also offers IFA members access to graduate level accountancy education.[9][10]

University of Northampton allows IFA members to apply their BA (Hons) International Accounting (Top Up Distance Learning) degree. The completion of this programme will give student a Level 6 qualification.

Links with other professional bodies[edit]

In 1997, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) granted reciprocal exemption to the IFA for seven of its exams.

In 2005, during a round of merger talks between certain chartered bodies, talks took place with the ICAEW with a view to establishing IFA both as a feeder body, and as a 'fall-back' professional body for accountants who had not passed the final exams of other bodies such as CIMA or ACCA.[11]

In 2006, talks took place between the IFA, the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and the International Association of Book-keepers (IAB), regarding the creation of a joint qualification structure.[12]

In 2008, the IFA became an associate member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), and a full member in 2011.[13]

Until 2009, the IFA was associated with the International Association of Book-keepers (IAB),[1] which is now fully independent.

In 2014, the IFA announced a merger with the Institute of Public Accountants of Australia to form the IPA Group; the world's largest SME/SMP professional accountancy body.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Index of UK and Irish Accountancy and Professional Bodies at ICAEW website
  2. ^ FTA’s First Annual Conference celebrated its merge with the IFA Group, FTA, 8 June 2009. Archived 14 July 2011 at WebCite
  3. ^ Graduate Jobs Accountant at
  4. ^ Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) at Manchester College of IT & Business. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  5. ^ Routes to membership. IFA.
  6. ^ Who we are, Ofqual. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  7. ^ British Qualifications, Kogan Page, 36th Edition (2006), page 440
  8. ^ Degree Partnership for Today's Accountant, press release from Bolton Institute, 27 March 2003. Archived 17 March 2011 at WebCite
  9. ^ BA (Hons) Accountancy IFA, listed under Business Management and Law, University of Bolton. "Holders of Associate membership of the Institute of Financial Accountants who have gained the qualification by assessment will be exempted from parts 1 and II". September 2008. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  10. ^ BA (Hons) in Accounting via the IFA, Trans-Atlantic College, 2008. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  11. ^ ICAEW talks planned new home for 'failed' chartereds, Accountancy Age, 19 Jan 2006
  12. ^ Accounting bodies to discuss qualifications merger, Accountancy Age, 24 Apr 2006
  13. ^ International Federation of Accountants Welcomes New Members and Associates, IFAC, 16 November 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  14. ^ Professional Planner
  15. ^ Accountancy Live 18 Dec 2014, Retrieved 10 Jan 2015

External links[edit]