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The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

ICAEW accounting As a world-class professional accountancy body, the ICAEW provides leadership and practical support to over 130,000 members in 160 countries, working with government, regulators and industry to maintain the highest standards. It is the largest accountancy body in Europe. Three thousand new members qualify each year.

The Institute provides its members with knowledge and guidance based on the highest ethical and technical standards. It shapes opinion, understanding and delivery to ensure the highest standards in business and in the public interest.

The prestigious qualifications offered by the Institute are recognised around the world and allow members to call themselves chartered accountants and to use the designatory letters ACA or FCA.

History and overview of ICAEW

The ICAEW was incorporated by Royal Charter in May 1880 following the coming together of six local societies of accountants in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. The Institute received a Supplemental Charter in 1948. As a chartered body, the Institute operates primarily in the public interest

The Institute is the largest professional accountancy body in Europe with 130,000 members running and advising businesses across all economic sectors. Over 15,000 members live and work outside the UK. The Institute also has some 9,000 students.

The Institute’s qualification is recognised around the world as a prestigious professional business qualification. Members of the Institute are entitled to the description chartered accountant and to the designatory letters ACA or FCA.

The Institute undertakes or facilitates a wide range of professional activities including education and training of students, continuing professional development for members, maintenance of professional and ethical standards, cutting-edge work on technical accounting issues, and provision of advice and services to members.

The Institute is the largest member of the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies, a grouping of the UK’s six professional accountancy bodies, and has a significant representational role with Government, the European Commission and influential world-wide bodies.

Institute strategy and policies are determined by a council and committees of volunteers. The Institute is managed on a day-to-day basis by the Chief Executive and three executive directors. It has around 480 staff working in two principal locations (London and Milton Keynes), with local staff working in the regions.

The Institute’s primary objectives are to:
• educate and train chartered accountants
• maintain high standards for professional conduct among members
• provide services to its members and students
• advance the theory and practice of accountancy.

Members are drawn from businesses of every size and type. Over 90% of FTSE 350 boards have at least one chartered accountant member and nearly 60% of FTSE 100 finance directors are chartered accountants.

At the other end of the scale, ICAEW members in practice advise many of the UK’s business start-ups or advise and work in small and medium-sized enterprises across all sectors and in all regions of the UK.

Technical policy relates to the Institute’s position on a wide range of issues where the Institute makes representations to other bodies and where policy needs to be developed in anticipation of and in response to legal and commercial developments.

The Institute’s strategy of pioneering technical work of outstanding quality has become particularly important given the pace of regulatory change in the UK, Europe and North America. It has a well-regarded and high profile, domestically and internationally.

The Institute plays a key role in influencing developments in corporate reporting, corporate governance and auditing in:
• the UK, through submissions to, and relations, with Government departments, regulators, standard setting bodies and the Corporation of London
• Europe, through submissions to the European Commission and the European Parliament and through its membership of FEE
• responding to US developments
• internationally, through the ICAEW’s membership of IFAC and submissions to the international standard setters.

The Institute’s role is exercised not only through submissions to the relevant bodies, usually in response to consultation papers, exposure drafts, etc, but in a number of other ways, such as attendance at meetings with UK Government departments, etc, individuals being members of committees and working parties and correspondence.

Drawing on the wide range of interests and working environments of the Institute’s diverse membership, its range of expertise is extensive, covering:
• financial and other aspects of corporate reporting
• financial management
• corporate governance
• auditing and assurance
• taxation – personal, corporate, VAT, inheritance, international
• company law
• legislation affecting businesses, eg money laundering
• corporate finance
• information technology
• financial services industry
• insurance.

This breadth and depth of expertise means that the Institute is able to comment to a wide range of stakeholders domestically and internationally.

What the ICAEW offers

• Qualifications (see below).
• Support for its students to help them through their exams and training.
• Support for its members, including continuing professional development, special-interest groups, helpsheets, and regulations and guidance.
• World-class business resources – an extensive range of technical information and guidance, including: faculties, an eLibrary, technical releases and guides and publications.

Tools for career advancement

The ICAEW offers the following qualifications and programmes :
Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB)
Corporate Finance qualification (CFq)
Diploma in Charity Accounting (DChA)
AMCT Diploma in Treasury
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) learning and assessment programme
The Financial Talent Executive Network (F-TEN)

Structure of the ICAEW

The Royal Charter establishes the Council as the Institute’s supreme governing body, responsible for the ‘management of the affairs and business of the Institute’. The Council agrees the overall Institute strategy and budget and delegates most other functions to committees and staff.

The majority of the members of Council are elected from 22 constituencies covering England and Wales. A small number of members are co-opted to preserve a balance between the various interests requiring representation on Council and to provide seats for members with specialist skills. Other members are appointed ex officio by virtue of other elected positions they hold (ie the Institute officeholders, the faculty chairmen, and the Chairman of the Practice Society).

Three small Committees of Council deal with appointments, remuneration of staff, and the Institute’s audit.

Regional network

The Institute has ten Regional Offices covering the whole of England and Wales. These offices support the Institute’s 22 District Societies and work to raise the profile of chartered accountants with key policymakers, the business community and the public.


As noted above, the ICAEW has a worldwide reach, and is able to offer global support and services, including qualifications and technical expertise. The International Affairs and European Affairs teams at the ICAEW have extensive contact with major accountancy bodies worldwide.

The teams ensure that accounting experts represent the Institute at high-profile events around the world. These opportunities enable it to promote the standards and quality of its qualifications and bring those standards to the World Accountancy platform.

The Institute has strong relationships with the following bodies:
• The Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants, representing national accountancy organisations in the Asia-Pacific region.
• The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies.
• The Fédération des Experts Comptables Européens, the representative organisation for the accountancy profession in Europe.
• The International Accounting Standards Board, an independent, privately funded accountancy standard-setting board based in London.
• The International Federation of Accountants, a global organisation of 155 member bodies, representing over 2.5 million accountants.

The ICAEW website provides a dedicated web area with links to all the Institute’s support and services for international members.

Contact the ICAEW

For more information, including about qualifications on offer, entry routes to the ACA, how to become an ICAEW member and much more,  telephone +44 (0)20 7920 8100 or +44 (0)1908 248100, fax +44 (0)20 7920 0547 or +44 (0)1908 248088, or e-mail . Alternatively, visit the ICAEW website .