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American Accountants Cut a Deal with the Scottish

Updated on April 15, 2018

American Accountants Cut a Deal with the Scottish

By Ashley Manfredi

Back in February of this year, American accountants from the AICPA met with the ICAS (Charted Accountants of Scotland) met to discuss an agreement with both organizations and countries. The AICPA helps provide information to prospective CPA test takers. They provide “the information and tools to guide them [prospective CPA test] to successful entry into the accounting profession” (www.aicpa.org). This organization also creates and administers the CPA exam to prospective applicants. The AICPA’s website provides information to future CPAs about salaries, career paths, and mentoring opportunities. CPAs are Certified Public Accountants whom are accredited professional accountants to give financial advice and work in a public institution. To become a CPA, you must pass the CPA exam (each US state may have different qualifications to take the exam).

The ICAS is an organization based in Scotland that is made up of various business peoples working in over one hundred countries (www.icas.com). The organization’s members are made up of CAs (chartered accountants). Chartered accountants are basically the equivalent of the AICPA’s Certified Public Accountant. Chartered Accountants “give advice, audit accounts and provide trustworthy information about financial records” (www.prospects.ac.uk). To become a Chartered Accountant, you must pass the ACA exam. To become a member of the ICAS, you need to have qualified by taking the exam in a list of countries available on their website. The ICAS seeks to influence policy globally to make a difference for the public. The ICAS provides information to potential test takers on how to prepare and how to become a successful chartered accountant.

Both the AICPA and ICAS met back in February, as mentioned before, to discuss and make influential changes to the policies within both organizations. The goal of both organizations was to find a way for the CPAs in America and the CAs in Scotland to be able to practice in each other’s countries. This very important decision helped to merge the accounting world between more than two countries. This agreement is actually “the first agreement of its kind between a[n] UK Chartered Accountancy body and American accountancy bodies” according to ICAS’ website. Doctor Liam Fox is the International Trade Secretary and he had very positive views towards the agreement between both organizations. Doctor Fox was quoted saying “Mutual recognition of qualifications can help boost trade in services, making it easier for our world-leading professionals to operate in other countries” (www.icas.com). Not only does this agreement help people in either country to work in the other but it also will lead to an increase in trade, which in turn affects the wider world around them.

Within this agreement, they came to a decision where CAs need to pass an exam and CPAs need to have experience. The final agreement, broke down, entails for CAs only one thing: to pass another exam. CAs would be required to pass the International Qualification Exam. This exam is for non-US to be “entered into mutual recognition agreements recommended by the U.S. International Qualifications Appraisal Board” (nasba.org), the IQAB is a combined force of the AICPA and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. This International Qualification Exam covers multiple accounting and ethical principles specific to the United States. According to NASBA’s website, this international exam is not to substitute for the CPA exam. The exam does use “an administration of the Uniform CPA Examination’s Regulation section” (nasba.org). In addition to the exam, CAs need to also complete and satisfy any State Board requirements depending on which state they wish to work in. It does not seem all CAs are eligible within this agreement. According to the ICAS website, this agreement has been set in place as a “simple route for ICAS members,” so it seems in order to qualify for this agreement, the accountant must be an ICAS member.

CPAs also need to pass an exam to be able to practice their auditing skills across the pond but, there are some other qualifications needed as well. CPAs will need to complete “the international qualification pathway, a two-year training contract and have requisite UK audit experience” (www.iasplus.com). The international qualification pathway is the International Qualification Exam. So, CPAs from the US do end up needing to put in more years and work to be able to become a CA.

Overall this agreement is going to be nothing but positive for both countries and is going to allow accountants in both countries to expand their knowledge and add to their resume. It will be interesting to see what comes of this agreement and if it actually does increase trade within the countries.

“American Institute of CPAs.” AICPA, www.aicpa.org/.

“ICAS CA International Pathways: ICAS-USA Pathway.” ICAS - USA Pathway to CA / CPA | Education and Qualifications | ICAS, www.icas.com/education-and-qualifications/icas-usa-pathway.

“IAS Plus.” US and Scottish Boards of Accountancy Reach Agreement, 28 Feb. 2018, www.iasplus.com/en/news/2018/02/us-scotland-agreement.

Nasba. “International Qualification Examination (IQEX).” NASBA National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, nasba.org/exams/iqex/.

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