Our members are Chartered Accountants (Chartered Professional Accountants in Canada) from England & Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada. To become a CA you must complete the program in those countries. For information on becoming a CA, see the check our Home Institute links.
ACAUS is working with NASBA, AICPA and the Home Institutes to identify potential pathways to simplify and facilitate more of our members to obtain their CPA. This important initiative in it's preliminary stages, but we will continue to update our members our progress.
Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs)
MRAs, which provide for reciprocal practice rights for Chartered Accountants and CPAs, are already in place for a number of countries. NASBA and AICPA are currently working the renegotiation of MRAs for several of the Home Institute bodies. As part of this process, language to clarify the steps for eligibility are being improved in order to increase transparency for all parties, particularly applicants.
Since the Canadian profession has unified, the MRA required renegotiation as the legacy CGAs and CMAs were not part of the original agreement. The renegotiated agreement has been drafted and is to be signed by the end of 2017. All members of CPA Canada will be eligible to sit for the IQEX as long as they meet the requirements under the new MRA. Certain candidates will require additional experience and education in order to meet the audit practice requirement for the eligibility. These candidates will need to consult CPA Canada and their provincial bodies to determine their requirements.
Australia and New Zealand had two separate MRAs with NASBA. The Institutes in these countries have merged and the redrafted single agreement is close to being finalized at this time. NASBA is also discussing an MRA with Australian CPAs.
The MRA with Ireland is also under negotiation as there has been a change from the European Union regarding increasing the term of experience to achieve the practice rights requirement.
To date, ICAEW, ICAS and SAICA members have been unable to take advantage of the MRA route to become CPAs due to the absence of such agreements. Consequently, becoming a CPA for members of these institutes has been onerous, requiring evaluation of their education and experience and, in many cases, requiring additional educational credits. Obtaining these can be costly and time consuming. In relative terms, taking the CPA exam is easier than meeting the criteria to do so!
Unfortunately, the regulatory environments in the UK and South Africa have not been favorable to the creation of MRAs in those countries. However, through ACAUS’s efforts, there has been tangible progress that will gradually enable members of ICAEW, ICAS and SAICA that meet certain criteria to take advantage of the accelerated route to becoming a CPA that is available to members of institutes who are covered by MRAs.
Many States use the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) as a template for their regulation of the accountancy profession. The UAA contains a set of model regulations and is maintained by NASBA and AICPA.
Section 6 (g) of the Uniform Accountancy Act has recently been amended to allow for the States to accept unilateral recognition of foreign designations. The criteria are that:
· Foreign designation is duly issued from an authorized foreign accounting body.
· The candidate is in good standing with the accounting body.
· The candidate is able to opine on financial statements (have audit practice credentials).
· The candidate’s education, experience and examination are similar to that which a US CPA is required to obtain.
State Boards can rely on IQAB to identify which foreign accounting bodies are considered substantially equivalent. IQAB has drafted their procedure for evaluating the equivalence, but our understanding is that the ICAEW, ICAS and SAICA qualifications have already been favorably evaluated.
Unfortunately, the implementation of the unilateral approach will in many cases require changes to state legislation. Any legislative changes take time, but NASBA, AICPA state societies and the large firms are used to promoting legislative changes to states’ accountancy acts and they will aim to get some quick wins. Whether early adopter states are ones where ACAUS has significant membership like New York and California remains to be seen. Suffice to say that the parties involved have the motivation to get the unilateral approach adopted as quickly as practical. Bringing Chartered Accountants who meet the criteria under the CPA umbrella is being promoted to the state regulators as a means of bringing foreign accountants under U.S. regulatory jurisdiction.
While the unilateral pathway has many benefits, MRAs with ICAEW, ICAS and SAICA are still preferable, as they would not require state legislative changes. Indeed, the intent of the unilateral approach is to encourage the creation of MRAs.
We will continue to work with NASBA and AICPA to do what we can to get the unilateral approach adopted by states and to encourage the creation of MRA’s with ICAEW, ICAS and SAICA. In the UK the regulator of the profession, the Financial Reporting Council is the body that has the say on reciprocal practice rights. So there are some complexities that will need to be overcome.
It is clear to us that there the motivation and momentum to get practice rights in place for our members in the U.S. and reciprocal practice rights for CPAs in our home countries. We have seen more progress on this issue in the last three years than has been in the last thirty. Nonetheless, there is still work to do and we will keep you appraised of our progress and key milestones.
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