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How to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant

how to become an icaew chartered accountant - Zabeel Institute

How to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant NTENTS 03 Become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant 05 A rewarding career 06 Success stories 08 The ACA qualification 11 Entry requirements 12 Top tips  

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become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant...


How to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant


ICAEW stands for The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and we are a world leader of the accountancy and finance profession.

We support our global network of authorised training employers in attracting talented students to train for our chartered accountancy qualification,

Here are some facts about ICAEW ...

Contents page

Supporting over 144,000 ICAEW Chartered Accountants in more than 160 countries

Over 22,000 students are studying the ACA globally

Working with more than 3,300 employers around the world training students for the ACA

ICAEW Chartered Accountants working in business earn an annual average salary of £90.2k

Working in the public interest through various activities,

including our Financial Capability work

Established in 1880 when Queen Victoria granted our Royal Charter


A great career choice


Have you got what it takes

Work globally and in any sector

ICAEW members and students: their story

How you can become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant 

All degrees welcome

What bosses want and how to achieve it 

An insight into your career journey

Taking the next step is easy

Further information and support

Early ICAEW presidents formed today's global accountancy firms

Welcome … … to our guide to becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant,

where we delve into the world of chartered accountancy.

We give you an insight into the career opportunities available,

explore the many areas you can train and work in and highlight how our qualification,

can give you the skills you need to succeed.

Read on to find out what employers want from graduates,

where you can find job vacancies,

and how you can get that extra edge on your own employability.

There’s more information on our website icaew.com/careers and if you have any questions then we would love to hear from you facebook.com/icaewcareers @ICAEW_Careers [email protected] We hope to see you at a careers event soon

! The ICAEW Student Recruitment Team

A great career choice

Straightforward – You can start studying for the ACA qualification independently or while working for an ICAEW authorised employer.

Global – The ACA qualification is recognised around the world,

meaning your career can take you anywhere.

Variety – You can work in many sectors,

job levels and every day is different.

Transferable skills – From communication and team working,

to problem solving and decision making,

these skills are valuable to all organisations.

Stability – Organisations large and small benefit from the expertise of ICAEW Chartered Accountants.

We really can help,

read what someone in your position has to say … I engaged with ICAEW in a variety of ways throughout university,

networking events and regular use of their brochures and online resources.

These helped me to understand what employers want and gave me the confidence to show them that I had it.

I successfully secured a place on a graduate scheme and am now training to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant with PwC.


Senior Associate,


is the median starting salary for graduates in the accountancy sector *

The Graduate Market in 2015.


? ICAEW Chartered Accountants are recognised around the world as leaders in accountancy,

You can be one too.

Let the facts speak for themselves.

I think being an ICAEW Chartered Accountant people know you’re full of integrity,

you’re professional and you’re top of your field.


Tax Accountant,

Manchester United Plc

They work for organisations of all shapes and sizes 42% 32% 26%


their average salary plus bonus 0 –2 years post qualification is £49.9k




The ethical framework,

professional scepticism and behaviours is a significant value of the ACA qualification.

It provides us with a behaviour framework that everyone follows and adheres to which is a big benefit to our organisation.

Professional Qualification Team Leader,

Number of employees

ICAEW is constantly thinking ahead – thinking about what future business leaders need to be and how to train them.


Grass Roots (and former CFO at the BBC)

They use the prestigious letters ‘ACA’ after their name (‘FCA’ after 10 years of membership)

They work across a wide variety of sectors and industries

Qualifying as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant has been a fantastic platform and has enabled me to do a zillion things that I would have never ever expected to do much earlier on in my career.


Standard Chartered (and former CFO at Vodafone)

Providing ACA training to employees benefits us by creating students who are able to add value to our clients,

both during and beyond their ACA training agreement.



Smith & Williamson

Have you got what it takes

? While technical knowledge is vital,

there is more to becoming a successful ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

Here are some of the key skills you’ll need:

People skills – Great chartered accountants are able to communicate complex financial information and advice to colleagues,

managers and clients in an easy to understand way.

From a quick email or chat with a colleague,

to formal face-to-face meetings or video conferences with international clients.

ICAEW Chartered Accountants spend time working across teams to find answers for specific business questions or challenges. 

Team working – Knowing when to operate as a team member or a team leader is vital,

as is the ability to support and motivate others to achieve common goals.

Decision making and problem solving – Being able to research,

analyse and interpret data from a range of sources helps chartered accountants to make sound,

Professionalism – Chartered accountants are highly respected for behaving professionally and conducting business ethically at all times.

Commercial awareness – By being commercially aware,

chartered accountants are able to think creatively about problems to identify solutions and give their organisation the competitive edge.

IT skills – Chartered accountants have well rounded technical skills,

keep up-to-date with technology and are able to use it to solve problems and develop strategic advice.

How can large multi-national businesses make sure they are on top of their taxes

? ICAEW Chartered Accountants navigate the complex world of tax legislation to make sure clients aren’t paying too much,

Shareholders can see business performance is improving but can they trust the information they are given

? ICAEW Chartered Accountants lead audit teams to review and analyse information,

systems and processes so people can do business with confidence.

The day-to-day responsibilities and duties they carry out can often shape a business’s success.

This means they enjoy a high-level of accountability and pride in their profession.

A typical day doesn’t exist,

but here are some of the things ICAEW Chartered Accountants do.

How do organisations ensure that they are a success

? ICAEW Chartered Accountants often find themselves involved in developing the strategy for all types of organisations,

From giving advice on risk,

to conducting a full valuation of the target company,

ICAEW Chartered Accountants are involved in all kinds of company mergers and acquisitions giving advice to clients every step of the way.

Work globally and in any sector ICAEW Chartered Accountants are valuable to all organisations and you will have the flexibility to shape your career to suit your interests and career aspirations.

The ACA is an internationally recognised qualification.

You can train for the ACA in various countries around the world and many careers in chartered accountancy come with international travel and worldwide prospects.

As an ICAEW Chartered Accountant you will find yourself at the heart of business.

You will be making decisions that affect the strategy,

direction and profitability of organisations around the world.

Imagine a career where you can investigate fraudulent activity and deliver your findings as an expert witness in court

? Or a career that gives you the opportunity to make a real difference,

through ensuring that it has the funds to deliver its charitable work

? With a range of industries and sectors to work in,

a career in chartered accountancy really does offer limitless and exciting opportunities.

Read on to discover more.

Where ICAEW Chartered Accountants work public sector

4% 55%

business and financial services

Source: ICAEW member data at January 2015.

Professional services and public practice Professional service and public practice organisations support clients of all sizes,

types and in all sectors around the world.

ICAEW Chartered Accountants are often at the heart of all types of organisations.

Varying in size,

accountancy practices offer their clients a range of services including audit,

Working in this sector,

you’ll get a real insight into how businesses operate and will experience the range of issues and opportunities they face on a regular basis.

This sector offers great flexibility and progression for ICAEW Chartered Accountants.

You can choose to either specialise or move between business areas to get a broad range of experience.

Whether it is a large global organisation or a small business,

working in this sector means that you will experience the full process of financial management and reporting.

You will also develop an understanding of IT,


ACA Manager EY,

I specialise in forensic accounting,

which can be challenging at times.

I have enjoyed working on a range of interesting cases – from drug lords laundering money in South America to insurance claims following damage caused by volcanic eruptions – where we were asked to value the impact.

One exciting case involved going to Afghanistan to investigate an alleged instance of corruption and misappropriation of £35m of taxpayers’ money.

Business and financial services

It can be a highly competitive environment with rapidly-changing risks and constant demands for innovation.

As your career progresses,

you’ll become involved in making strategic decisions to drive the business forward,

creating plans and leading change for business success.


FCA Chief Operating Officer FBN Capital,


During the early years of my career I experienced a breadth of roles that exposed me to the global banking sectors of Europe,


Asia Pacific and the US,

and I covered investment banking inside out.

That vast experience provided the architecture for my career.

Another highlight has been the identification of shipping documents proving the sale of goods from a weapons manufacturer in China and delivery to Iran,

as well as a terrorist bank account which was frozen immediately.

It’s not fighting on the front line,

but I feel like I’ve helped to do my bit.

But my accountancy training really equipped me with the vital analytical skills and strategic mindset that you need as Chief Operating Officer,

to be able to go into any area of the business,

ask the right kind of questions,

process huge volumes of data and gain an accurate measure of any business situation.

I can’t think of another form of professional training that equips you so well and stays with you throughout your entire career.

To read Nicholas’s full story visit icaew.com/nicholas

To read Funke’s full story visit icaew.com/funke

Charity and not-for-profit

ICAEW Chartered Accountants play a key role in helping non-profit-making organisations.

Working in the public sector means you can have a real impact on people’s lives.

Would you like to use your skills to make an impact on society

? Then consider working in the charity and not-for-profit sector.

Organisations in this sector need to carefully manage scarce resources and ICAEW Chartered Accountants working in them get involved in a range of activity.

This can include working for a charity in a management accounting role,

financial systems and liaising with budget holders and trustees to manage the needs of the organisation.

Or it could be working for a charity specialist auditing firm,

delivering high quality audit work,

systems reviews and consultancies into the needs of charity clients.

ICAEW Chartered Accountants in this sector manage,

distribute and invest finances in public services such as health,

emergency services and local authority services.

They are constantly challenged to reduce expenditure and improve efficiency to ensure value for money.

They are also in charge of holding government departments to account by monitoring spending.

By working in this sector you’ll be responsible for making sure that public money is being spent properly for the benefit of the nation.

You’ll be helping local communities and changing people’s lives,

while leading a successful and satisfying career.


ACA Finance Regulatory and Taxes Manager Cancer Research UK

Public sector


ACA student Assistant Auditor National Audit Office,

After training in public practice I developed an interest in charities and it seemed natural to progress to join a charity full time to give something back.

I now work for Cancer Research UK which delivers a rewarding career where your successes can contribute directly to financing a cause that you believe in.

This was the case a few years back when I made the most of a one-off opportunity to reclaim VAT that was eventually worth £9.6m to Cancer Research UK.

I had become a fundraiser as well as an accountant

Since starting my ACA at the National Audit Office,

I have been helping out on audits of varying sizes across the organisation.

I have been given an increasing amount of responsibility on the audits I am assigned to,

exercising greater judgement and providing support to other members of the team.

My biggest step forward since starting my training has been working on the audit for the Department of Business,

Innovation and Skills.

Getting to grips with a complex and far-reaching organisation and making an effective contribution to the audit was extremely rewarding and gave me pride in my work.

To ready Richard’s full story visit icaew.com/richard

To read Ewan’s full story visit icaew.com/ewan

ICAEW members and students: their story


Sajjad Haider & Co,

Dubai A family friend recommended the ACA to me as an ideal way to get a head-start in my professional life.

So far,

I agree with him 100%.

I am now an Audit Associate and after almost a year and a half,

I’ve become a significant member of the audit team who’s allowed to handle clients independently.

I consider the growth that I have experienced as a result of my audit career is my biggest achievement to date.


UK I knew that I was interested in the public sector,

and that obtaining a job where I felt like I was making a real difference was important to me.

I applied to the National Audit Office (NAO),

attracted by the opportunity of working for the organisation which holds the government to account,

and whose work leads to direct improvements in the delivery of public services.


Singapore After graduating I wanted to pursue a professional qualification and the ACA was a natural choice.

I am now a Tax Manager,

meaning I provide tax advice to clients and conduct regular research into uncertain tax and accounting issues.

The most enjoyable part of my job is that I get to meet and deal with clients in a variety of industries and geographies.

I feel an incredible sense of satisfaction whenever I am able to provide advice and add value to my clients’ businesses.



Gibraltar I chose the ACA because it is a prestigious and globally-recognised qualification,

its professional reputation attracted my interest.

I’ve had many high points so far in my career,

which include recently being promoted to Audit Assistant Manager.

My highest point has been becoming the first ICAEW Chartered Accountant to have trained in Gibraltar.

I hope to inspire new accountants in Gibraltar and help them achieve the ACA too.

Countries where ICAEW members and students live and work





East African Breweries Ltd,


Growing up,

He’s an ACA and a member of ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty.

Seeing my brother qualify as a chartered accountant also inspired me to follow the family profession.

Becoming president of the Cyprus Chartered Accountants’ Student Society has helped improve my communication,

presentation and social skills and involves a lot of teamwork.

I chose to study the ACA because I wanted a qualification that is internationally recognised and respected,

that would stretch and improve my skills.

I am currently the finance lead for our Route to Consumer project.

On a normal day I tend to be reviewing or modelling commercial propositions for new sales initiatives,

customer trade terms for economics and controls,

in project management meetings or engaging with third-party partners.

How you can become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant

Professional development is an essential part of ACA training.

It prepares you to successfully handle a variety of situations that you will come across throughout your career.

The skills framework is made up of seven ladders,

each containing seven or eight steps that represent a particular skill.

Successful ICAEW Chartered Accountants need the right mix of knowledge,

skills and on-the-job experience.

To follow in the footsteps of our members and become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant,

you will need to complete our globally-recognised ACA qualification.

The ACA has four integrated components that have been carefully designed to build on each other.

This means that you will develop the skills and expertise you need as you progress through the qualification.


Team working rof

Decision making


A pro fess i on


Adding value

Problem solving Technical competence

The seven professional development ladders

Professional development

At the start of your ACA training agreement with your authorised employer,

you’ll discuss your current skills and agree where you should start on each of the ladders.

This means that the more skills you develop while you are at university,

the higher up the ladders you will start

! As you progress through your ACA training,

you’ll be asked to demonstrate your competence in each of the required skills.

Once achieved,

you’ll be asked to record your success in your online training file.

You will continue to progress though the skills ladders throughout the remainder of your ACA training.

Ethics and professional scepticism training

Ethics is more than just knowing the rules around confidentiality,

It is about being able to identify an ethical dilemma,

understand the impact and behave appropriately.

Ethics is an essential part of the accountancy profession.

We integrate ethics throughout the ACA qualification to develop your ethical capabilities – so you’ll always know how to make the right decision,

You’ll develop your ethical capabilities in three ways:

Learn – not only is ethics integrated throughout the ACA modules,

you’ll also need to complete our online training programme.

Practise – our practising ethics webinars help you understand ethical dilemmas though a range of scenarios.

Apply – once you understand the principles,

you’ll need to show your employer that you are able to apply your ethical capabilities in your day-to-day role.

Three to five years’ practical work experience

Practical work experience is a key component of ACA training.

You will need to gain and show evidence of at least 450 days of work experience,

which must be completed as part of a training agreement with one of our 3,300+ authorised employers around the world.

The agreement is separate to your employment contract and details the commitment both you and your employer have to you achieving the ACA qualification.

While you can start the ACA qualification on your own,

securing an ACA training agreement with an authorised employer will mean you receive the highest standard of training and support from the start.

Your employer will guide you through your ACA training and you’ll benefit from six-monthly reviews.

These regular reviews will give you the chance to discuss your progress through all components of ACA training with your employer.

Once completed,

you will record your practical experience in your online training file.

Practical work experience means real-life work of a financial,

business and/or commercial nature.

It will need to be completed in at least one of the following categories: • accounting • taxation • financial management • insolvency

You’ll record your progress in your online training file with your employer completing the final sign-off at the end of your training.

• information technology • audit or assurance (audit is not compulsory).

Experience is progressive,

so you’ll also be guaranteed to get more responsibility throughout your ACA training too.

The ACA modules cover a wide range of subjects,

to enable you to develop a broad understanding across accountancy,

They progress over three levels and are designed to complement the practical experience,

professional development and ethical learning you gain throughout your ACA training.

This means that you’ll be able to apply theory in the workplace right from the start.

If you are in an ACA training agreement your employer will guide you on the pace and order that you complete the ACA modules,

and discuss professional tuition with you.

Typically you will either complete the Certificate Level (often within the first year) before the Professional Level,

or a combination of the two if you are specialising in a particular area,

You will then move onto the Advanced Level.

To support you in applying your knowledge in exams,

there are alternative modules for Business Planning,

Financial Accounting and Reporting,

When you start an ACA training agreement,

your employer will guide you on the modules that are right for you.

If you start the ACA independently,

you should consider your future ambitions when selecting which modules to sit.

Advanced Level

Professional Level

Certificate Level

Don’t forget

or have completed an accountancy,

finance or business-related undergraduate degree,

a Masters or professional qualification,

you may be eligible to apply for exam credit towards the ACA qualification.

Visit icaew.com/cpl to find out more.

Case Study Corporate Reporting

Strategic Business Management

Business Planning

Business Strategy

Audit and Assurance

Financial Accounting and Reporting


Management Information

Principles of Taxation


Business and Finance

Certificate Level This is a snapshot of what training for our chartered accountancy qualification will involve.

Visit our website icaew.com/careers to find out more about the ACA qualification and how it will help you to develop into a business professional.

Tax Compliance

Professional Level

Financial Management

Advanced Level

• An introduction to accountancy,

• Learn to apply technical knowledge in real-life scenarios

• Strategic decision making at a senior level

• Each has a 1.5 hour computer-based exam

• Each has a 2.5 –3 hour exam

• Real-life scenarios with increased complexity

• Exams can be sat at any time

• Exams can be sat in March,


September and December

• Available as a stand-alone qualification – ICAEW Certificate in Finance,

Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB)

• Alternative modules available for Business Planning and Financial Accounting and Reporting

• Each has a 3–4 hour written exam • Exams can be sat in July and November • Alternative modules available for Corporate Reporting

All degrees welcome ICAEW Chartered Accountants come from a wide variety of degree disciplines Because successful businesses and organisations need people with varied backgrounds,

you can train to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant whatever your degree background.

Graduates registering with us in 2014 hold degrees in:

Accounting or Accounting and Finance 30.62%

Employers recruit from a variety of degree disciplines because they want people who can think differently.

Accounting or Accounting and Finance – Developing your knowledge on commercial awareness is essential when understanding a business’s needs,

Arts and Humanities – Creativity,

research and analytical skills are immediately transferable qualities should you pursue a career in chartered accountancy.

Arts and Humanities 14.89% Business and Management 26.77% Engineering 2.17% Languages 1.70% Law 2.84% Maths 10.95% Science 9.17%

Business and Management – Appreciating the complexities of changeable business landscapes is extremely useful when working with companies as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

Engineering – Problem solving by using your numerical skills and adapting to deadlines are an essential part of exceeding your client’s needs without running out of time.

Languages – Many global businesses highly value those who are multilingual

being able to communicate with international clients is a great attribute for employers.

Other 0.89%

ICAEW’s entry requirements relate to your school,

college or other relevant qualifications and full details can be found at icaew.com/careers.

Your chosen employer will have their own entry requirements,

so check their website before you apply.

Law – Impeccable accuracy and attention to detail are essential when reviewing financial records,

and communicating financial matters to clients.

Maths – An obvious link is numeracy,

as is the ability to think clearly,

review and be thorough in your workings.

Science – The ability to summarise analytical data to reach an objective conclusion is the foundation of being a chartered accountant,

as is having a strong understanding of ethical implications within your work.

What bosses want and how to achieve it Being bright and numerate really helps but attitude is what makes people stand out.

I value people with drive and energy

people who ask questions and find better ways of doing things.


Chief Finance Officer,

Office Shoes (UK)

I look for authenticity,

for self-belief and for people who can relate to others easily.

Technical skills we can teach but that ability to connect with clients is not easy to develop in those that don’t have it.

My advice is be yourself,

because you’ll fail miserably if you try to be someone else.


Chief Executive Officer,


They need to demonstrate emotional intelligence (or EQ) as well as IQ,

to be able to connect with and better serve the businesses we work with.


Partner and Head of Talent,


A very important cocktail of hard and soft qualities are required: solid financial acumen,

quick grasp of issues and resolutions,

positivity and a can-do attitude.


Former Finance Director,

Yahoo (Switzerland)

Build that network

Our Student Recruitment team is on campus hosting business games,

skills sessions and exhibiting at careers events throughout the year.

Networking is a key skill so come along to our events and talk to our employers.

Visit icaew.com/careers

Do your research

There are diverse opportunities on offer.

Research the type of organisations,

sectors and locations that appeal to you.

You’ll be applying for an ACA training v