Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
|Predecessor||Incorporated Society of Liverpool Accountants, Institute of Accountants in London and three others|
|Formation||11 May 1880|
|Legal status||Chartered body|
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is a professional membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports chartered accountants and students across the world. In 2019, it has over 181,000 members and students in 148 countries. In 2018, 8,821 students joined the ICAEW - the highest ever figure. The ICAEW was established by royal charter in 1880.
The Institute is a member of the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB), formed in 1974 by the major accountancy professional bodies in the UK and Ireland. The fragmented nature of the accountancy profession in the UK is in part due to the absence of any legal requirement for an accountant to be a member of one of the many Institutes, as the term accountant does not have legal protection. However, a person must belong to the ICAEW, ICAS or CAI to hold themselves out as a chartered accountant in the UK (although there are other chartered bodies of British qualified accountants whose members are likewise authorised to conduct restricted work such as auditing).
The Institute is also a founder member of Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW), an international network of accountancy bodies which represents over 1.8 million members and students in more than 190 countries.
The ICAEW has two offices in the United Kingdom; at their headquarters, Chartered Accountants' Hall in Moorgate, London and in Central Milton Keynes at the Hub:MK complex. It also has offices in Belgium (Europe Region), China (Greater China Region), Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (Middle East, Africa and South East Asia Region).
Until the mid-nineteenth century, the role of accountants in England and Wales was restricted to that of bookkeepers, in that accountants merely maintained records of what other business people had purchased and sold. However, with the growth of the limited liability company and large scale manufacturing and logistic in Victorian Britain, a demand was created for more technically proficient accountants to deal with the increasing complexity of accounting transactions dealing with depreciation of assets, inventory valuation and the Companies legislation being introduced.
To improve their status and combat criticism of low standards, accountants in the cities of Britain formed professional bodies. The ICAEW was formed from the five of these associations that existed in England prior to its establishment by Royal Charter in May 1880.
- The Incorporated Society of Liverpool Accountants, formed in January 1870;
- The Institute of Accountants in London was formed in November 1870, comprising 37 members under the leadership of William Quilter. In 1871, standards for membership were established with new members having to show knowledge and aptitude through successfully passing an oral examination. Initially the London Institute restricted its membership to that city, but as other institutes were established elsewhere (for example, in Manchester and Sheffield) it was decided to remove this restriction and as such in 1872 it simply became known as the Institute of Accountants to reflect its new national coverage;
- The Manchester Institute of Accountants, formed in February 1871;
- The Society of Accountants in England (1872);
- The Sheffield Institute of Accountants (1877).
The headquarters of the Institute, Chartered Accountants' Hall, in the City of London, which was designed in the Italian Renaissance style by John Belcher and built by Colls & Sons, was completed in 1892. It is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Victorian Baroque architecture. Sir William Whitfield designed the 1964–70 extension and new entrance.
In 1948, the institute received a Supplemental Charter. In 1957, the ICAEW merged with the Society of Incorporated Accountants (founded in 1885 as the Society of Incorporated Accountants and Auditors).
In 2019, as part of their celebration of 100 years of women being able to work as Chartered Accountants, ICAEW published a booklet on 100 years of women in Chartered Accountancy and launched a campaign to collect the stories of women members in chartered accountancy. In 2020, ICAEW announced the commissioning of a blue plaque in honour their first female member Mary Harris Smith.
Membership and qualifications
In order to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, it is necessary to achieve the ACA qualification.
The ACA comprises four core elements that must be successfully completed. These are; practical work experience, ethics and professional scepticism; accountancy, finance and business modules; and professional development.
There are 15 computer-based exams, spread across the Certificate level (first round), the Professional level (second round), and the Advanced level (third and final round). The Certificate level exams consist of mostly multiple-choice questions. Results of the Certificate level exams are provided to candidates within 24 hours of sitting the exams, as the marking of such exams is largely automated. Certificate level exams can be sat throughout the year at dedicated test centres. The Professional and Advanced level exams are long-form written exams (performed in computer software) consisting of 2.5-4 hour examinations, each with up to a handful of long questions. Results of Professional and Advanced level exams are provided to candidates some several weeks after sitting the exams, and are published online (previously in the Financial Times), although candidates can choose to remain anonymous and have their name excluded from publishing. All of the Certificate level exams are closed book. The Professional level exams are a mixture of fully open book, fully closed book, or permitting approved texts (such as IFRS publications or tax tables). All of the Advanced level exams are fully open book.
ACA exam prizes
The ICAEW awards prizes to high-scoring candidates in the ACA exams, including the Certificate level since 2018. There are subject-specific prizes for the best performance in a particular exam, and annual prizes for the highest marks across all the exams for a particular level. The subject-specific prizes can be awarded multiple times per year, reflecting the multiple sittings of exams each year; for the Professional level, there are 3-4 sittings per year for each exam, whilst for the Advanced level, there are 2 sittings per year for each exam. Prizes can be awarded jointly to multiple candidates. The prizes include the following:
|Advanced||Annual||Peat Prize||First place overall in the Advanced level||Sir William Peat founded this prize in 1910. He was one of the original members of ICAEW, elected to council in 1894, and served as president from 1906–08.|
|Advanced||Annual||Deloitte Prize||Second place overall in the Advanced level||William Deloitte’s widow founded this prize with a bequest in 1907. He was one of the original members of council and served as president in 1888–89.|
|Advanced||Annual||Fletcher Prize||Third place overall in the Advanced level||Sir William Peat established this prize in 1906 in memory of Robert Fletcher who was his former principal and partner, and was one of the founders of the original Institute of Accountants in London.|
|Advanced||Annual||Strachan Prize||Fourth place overall in the Advanced level||Charles Maxwell Strachan donated funds to establish this prize following his resignation from council in 1961. He served on numerous committees and with particular distinction on the Parliamentary and Law and District Society Committees.|
|Advanced||Annual||William G Frazer Prize||Fifth place overall in the Advanced level||The partners of Frazer Whiting and Co. established this prize in 1982 to commemorate their founder, who set up practice in 1925|
|Advanced||Annual||Tattersall-Walker Prize||Sixth place overall in the Advanced level||George Tattersall-Walker established this prize in 1986, following his retirement from council the previous summer.|
|Advanced||Subject||Whinney Prize||First place in the Case Study exam||This prize was established by Frederick Whinney who bequeathed a sum of money for the purpose. He was one of the original council members of ICAEW and served as president from 1884–88.|
|Advanced||Subject||Quilter Prize||First place in the Corporate Reporting exam||This prize was founded in honour of William Quilter by his son, Sir Cuthbert. William Quilter was president of the old Institute of Accountants in 1870 and was in partnership with its honorary secretary, Thomas Weldon.|
|Advanced||Subject||Walton Prize||First place in the Strategic Business Management exam||This prize was established by Tom Walton who bequeathed a sum of money for the purpose. He was a long-standing member of numerous committees and remained on the council from his election in 1926 until his death in 1953.|
|Professional||Annual||Plender Prize||First place overall in the Professional level||Lord Plender, who bequeathed a sum of money to establish this prize, was elected to council in 1903 and served as president in 1910, 1911–12 and in the golden jubilee year of 1929–30.|
|Professional||Annual||Stephens Prize||Second place overall in the Professional level||Mr J H Stephens bequeathed a sum of money to establish this prize. He remained with the firm of Lescher Stephens & Co. all his life and was also chair of a number of well-known companies.|
|Professional||Annual||Hewitt Prize||Third place overall in the Professional level||This prize is named after Flight-Lieutenant Dudley Hewitt ACA, admitted in 1940. He was reported missing, presumed killed, following air operations in 1944 and his father established the fund in 1954.|
|Professional||Annual||Northcott Prize||Fourth place overall in the Professional level||Commander Walter Northcott, who bequeathed a sum of money to establish this prize, was a member of ICAEW from 1907–48. He was, for many years, president of CABA.|
|Professional||Annual||Cassleton Elliot Prize||Fifth place overall in the Professional level||This prize was established in commemoration of Edward Cassleton Elliott CBE, the last senior past president of the former Society of Incorporated Accountants, which was integrated into ICAEW in 1957.|
|Professional||Annual||Arthur Swinson Prize||Sixth place overall in the Professional level||The family of Arthur Montagu Swinson, who became a member of ICAEW in 1951, established this prize in his memory in 1990.|
|Professional||Subject||Watts Prize||First place in the Audit & Assurance exam||This prize was established by the Women Chartered Accountants Dining Society in memory of Miss Ethel Watts. In 1924 she became the first woman to qualify for ICAEW membership by examination and the second female ICAEW member (second after Mary Harris Smith).|
|Professional||Subject||Little Prize||First place in the Business Planning: Taxation exam||This prize was established to perpetuate the memory of Leo T Little, editor of Accountancy for over 20 years.|
|Professional||Subject||Prize for Business Planning: Insurance||First place in the Business Planning: Insurance exam||This exam is an optional variant to the Business Planning: Taxation exam, and has been offered since 2016.|
|Professional||Subject||Prize for Business Planning: Banking||First place in the Business Planning: Banking exam||This exam is an optional variant to the Business Planning: Taxation exam, and has been offered since 2016.|
|Professional||Subject||Railton Prize||First place in the Business Strategy exam||This prize was established in 1944 to perpetuate the name of Mr O C Railton, whose studies were interrupted by the First World War in which he was wounded. His training completed, he was admitted to membership in 1920 and died in 1939.|
|Professional||Subject||Spicer and Pegler Prize||First place in the Finance Accounting & Reporting exam||This prize was established by the partners of Spicer and Pegler in 1981 in honour of Ernest Spicer and Ernest Pegler. They entered practice in 1902 and aimed to improve the standards of training and of tuition. The practice was eventually merged into Deloitte & Touche in 1991.|
|Professional||Subject||Howitt Prize||First place in the Financial Management exam||This prize was established by Sir Harold Gibson Howitt in 1966 after his retirement from council in 1961. His service on numerous committees was considerable and he was president in 1945–46.|
|Professional||Subject||Knox Prize||First place in the Tax Compliance exam||This prize was established from a sum of money bequeathed by George Walter Knox. He was one of the original members elected to council and was involved with the examinations over a long period. He served as president in 1896–97.|
Other ways to membership and affiliations
Some members of professional accountancy bodies within the European Union are eligible to apply for ICAEW membership under either the Statutory Audit Directive or the Recognition of Professional Qualifications (RPQ) Directive.
In 2010, the ICAEW introduced its "Pathways to Membership" programme, which allows fully qualified members from certain professional bodies to apply for membership based on their experience.
There are also various other routes to membership, including reciprocal arrangements, advanced credit arrangements and common content arrangements with other professional accountancy bodies around the world.
Members have the designation ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant) or FCA (Fellow Chartered Accountant) after their name.
Fellowship is intended to designate those who have achieved a higher level of professional experience. It is awarded on application, and at no additional cost, to those members who have attained at least ten years of membership and who, at the date of application, have complied with the Institute's requirements on continuing professional development in the preceding three years and have no outstanding disciplinary charges against them.
The ICAEW has seven faculties, each run by an in-house team working together with members who are experts in their particular sector:
- Audit and Assurance
- Corporate Finance
- Finance and Management
- Financial Reporting
- Financial Services
- Information Technology
The Tax Faculty was the first to be formed in 1990; The monthly TAXline publication started in 1991, and an annual Technical Review (now Tax Planning) was first published in October 1992. The Tax Faculty joined the Confédération Fiscale Européenne (CFE) in 2001.
The Institute has 25 district societies, the largest of which is the London Society of Chartered Accountants (LSCA) with over 31,000 members. The LSCA has often taken the lead in making proposals for change, and was instrumental in the formation of the influential Hundred Group of finance directors.
- "Who we are". www.icaew.com.
- "Wilkinson, Fiona". www.icaew.com.
- "Matthews, David". www.icaew.com.
- "Brooks, William". www.icaew.com.
- Perks, R. W. (1993). Accounting and Society. London: Chapman & Hall. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-412-47330-2.
- "ICAEW opens Middle East regional office". ICAEW.
- ICAEW pushes regional expansion in China, Accountancy Age, 4 April 2011
- Walker, Stephen P. (14 March 2019). "Smith, Mary Harris". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.111926.
- "Trollope & Colls". National Archives. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
- "Sir William Whitfield". Oxford Index. OUP. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
- "100 Years of women in Chartered Accountancy". 2019.
- "Your stories". www.icaew.com. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
- "ICAEW secures women in accountancy centenary blue plaque". www.icaew.com. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
- "ACA". www.icaew.com. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
- "Pathways to Membership". www.icaew.com. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
- "Members of other bodies A-Z". www.icaew.com. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
- "Fellowship". ICAEW. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "Join a faculty". ICAEW. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "London Society of Chartered Accountants: history and purpose". ICAEW. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
- ICAEW official website
- Key Facts and Trends in the UK Accountancy Profession, annual publication by the Professional Oversight Board