What Is a Chartered Accountant (CA)? A chartered accountant (CA) is an international accounting designation granted to accounting professionals in many countries around the world, aside from the United States. In the United States, the equivalent to the CA designation is a certified public accountant (CPA).
Where can you find a chartered accountant in the world?
The name of “chartered accountant” refers to a position that is found in Great Britain, South Africa, Canada, India, Asia and Australia. Its equivalent in the United States is a certified accountant.
Which is the first professional group of Chartered Accountants?
Chartered accountants claim to be the first accounting group to form a professional body, in 1854 in Scotland. Today, there are many organizations that such accountants belong to across the world, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Chartered accountants were the first accountants to form a professional accounting body, initially established in Scotland in 1854. The Edinburgh Society of Accountants (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; the certified public accountant designation is generally equivalent to it. Women were able to become chartered accountants only following the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 after which, in 1920, Mary Harris Smith was recognised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and became the first woman chartered accountant in the world.
Chartered accountants work in all fields of business and finance, including auditing, 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, career and business development.
Chartered Accountants Worldwide comprises 15 institutes with over 1.8 million Chartered Accountants and students in 190 countries.
South African Chartered Accountants
In South Africa, SAICA, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, regulates the Chartered Accountant (South Africa) designation, CA (SA).
To qualify as a CA (SA), one requires a specialised bachelor’s degree in accounting, followed by a Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (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 competency exams set by SAICA.
A separate registration is needed for Chartered Accountants wishing to act as auditors in public practice as a registered auditor (RA). The RA designation is conferred by IRBA (Independent Regulatory Board For Auditors, previously known as Public Accountants and Auditors Board [PAAB]) under 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.
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 they receive no fee for such audit.
In South Africa the Companies Act was replaced, with effect in 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 can be performed by accountants who are members of bodies that are registered in terms of the Close Corporations Act of 1984, which include SAIBA, CIMA, SAICA, SAIPA and ACCA.