Accountancy Profession Breaking Down Geographical Borders

6 March 2018

Last week, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) and US accountancy bodies The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), signed an agreement which will allow for their respective members to practise in the other’s jurisdiction. This will be an exciting development for ICAS members who will, after meeting certain requirements, be able to practise in the US; a perfect opportunity to work in audit whilst experiencing all that America has to offer.

A Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) has been agreed between the bodies. The MRA allows ICAS members to achieve the US CPA and licensure, and for US Certified Public Accountants to attain the CA designation and, importantly, UK audit signing rights.

For a CA to take advantage, they must be an ICAS member in good standing (which would include having a satisfactory disciplinary record) and have completed:

  • an undergraduate degree;
  • the ICAS CA qualification programme; and
  • two years’ post qualification relevant practical work experience.

The requirements for US CPAs differ slightly – they must be a licensed CPA in good standing with a State Board, and have completed:

  • an undergraduate degree;
  • the Uniform CPA Exam;
  • State board experience requirements for licensure; and
  • two years’ post-qualification practical work experience.

This offers an exciting opportunity for ICAS members to be able to travel and work, as suggested by Mark Allison, ICAS Executive Director, who stated that: “One of the many benefits of the CA qualification is the opportunities it creates for professionals to work in other countries”. 

The FRC has also approved the deal, with Stephen Haddrill, CEO of the FRC, stating that: “The FRC welcomes the Mutual Recognition Agreement signed between ICAS, NASBA and the AICPA.  Recognising the skills needed in a global business environment, the agreement provides a pathway for qualified professionals in the UK and US to gain audit rights in each other’s jurisdictions.  We consider that this is an approach that can be replicated more widely”.

This follows on from The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants’ (CIMA) decision in 2016 to enter into a joint venture with the AICPA to establish the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation, and perhaps represents a trend in national professional bodies seeking out opportunities for their members abroad.

The ability to travel will certainly be attractive to these considering entering the accountancy profession. ICAS, by entering into this MRA, has started to break down the geographical boundaries by which professionals are often constrained.    

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