What is an accountant? According to the Australian Accountants Directory they are, “a practitioner of accountancy or accounting, which is the measurement, disclosure or provision of assurance about financial information that helps managers, investors, tax authorities and others make decisions about allocating resources”(“About Accountants”). As you may already know, different areas of the world have different professional bodies of accounting.
For example, not every country uses the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). As the name suggests, that’s only used in the United States. Australia however, has three legally recognized local professional accounting bodies; the institute of public accountants (IPA), CPA Australia (CPA), and the institute of chartered accountants of Australia (ICAA).
The IPA has been around since 1923 and continues to grow in the organization today. After 90 years it currently sits more than 26,000 members and students across 64 countries and is ranked in the top professional accounting bodies in the world (“Institute of Public Accountants”). They acquired a full membership of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) in 2005 as well as the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA) in 2011. They are really working towards building relationships and exchanging knowledge overseas. They are innovative in everything that they do as they already are recognized as one of the top 20 in BRW’s most innovative companies in Australia list for 2012. The IPA has three levels of membership, Associate (AIPA), Member (MIPA), and Fellow (FIPA). An Associate membership requires one to have an Australian Advanced Diploma of Accounting or a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting that can be Australian or equivalent in nature. MIPA membership requires Australian Advanced Diploma of Accounting, two years of pre-IPA program full-time work experience in accounting or related fields and a mentored experience program. A FIPA membership requires 7 years’ MIPA status or equivalent and 10 years’ experience in accounting the last five years have to be at a senior level (“Institute of Public Accountants”).
According to CPA Australia, they are one of the world’s largest accounting bodies with a global membership of more than 150,000 members working in 120 countries around the world, and with more than 25,000 members working in senior leadership positions (“About Us”). They provide education, training, technical support and advocacy. They were an early entrant in the Asian Market, where their involvement began in the early 1950s and aimed at developing and strengthening the accounting profession in the region. As of today almost one-quarter of CPA Australia’s members reside outside of Australia, with over 35,000 in Asia. They currently have nineteen staffed offices across Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, New Zealand and the UK. To become a member of this program candidates most hold a postgraduate award that is recognized by CPA Australia, and demonstrate competence in the required knowledge areas and, within a six year period, successfully complete the CPA Program (“About Us”). They must also have three years of professional experience in finance, or accounting for business. To offer public accounting services, CPAs must also complete CPA Australia’s Public Practice program, which involves distance learning and a residential component, and must hold a Public Practice Certificate in accordance with the CPA Australia’s by laws.
The ICAA is the professional body representing Chartered Accountants in Australia. They currently have over 50,000 members and 12,000 students(“News and Updates”). In order to become a member of the institute, one has to complete the Chartered Accountants Program which includes study of Graduate diploma in Chartered Accounting (GradDipCA) and three years of practical experience. Entry is available to anyone who holds an accounting degree; however, those holding non-accounting degrees can also be permitted entry after additional requirements are met. If one does become a Chartered Accountant they must complete a total of 120 hours of Continuing Professional Education every three years. The ICAA is a founding member of the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA). Members of this alliance are part of the international accounting coalition of the world’s premier accounting bodies. Chartered Accountants audit 100 percent of the top ASX-listed companies in Australia. They are recognized by the international accounting bodies of the leading financial centers of the world. As of November 2013, the ICAA merged with the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and are now known as “Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand”(“News and Updates”).