ICAS signs historic deal with US accountancy bodies

MRA signing header image
By CA Today

28 February 2018

ICAS and US accountancy bodies, NASBA and AICPA, have agreed a deal which will provide a streamlined process for their respective members to practice in the other’s jurisdiction.

The Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) provides a simple route for ICAS members to achieve the US CPA and licensure, and US Certified Public Accountants to attain the CA designation and UK audit signing rights.

International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, commented: “This is a really welcome initiative, which my department supports, and shows the huge benefits which greater UK-US co-operation can bring to our businesses.

“Mutual recognition of qualifications can help boost trade in services, making it easier for our world-leading professionals to operate in other countries. Through our UK-US Trade and Investment Working Group we are looking at how we can support our services industries to work and trade across the Atlantic, building on our £50bn of annual services exports to the USA.”

This is a really welcome initiative and shows the huge benefits which greater UK-US co-operation can bring to our businesses.

International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox

Anton Colella, ICAS CEO commented: “This is an historic agreement. It’s the first of its kind between a UK Chartered Accountancy body and American accountancy bodies, and comes at a pivotal point for the UK.

“It not only creates new opportunities in the world of transatlantic trade, but also reinforces the high standing in which we hold our American colleagues, and the expertise they value in us.”

ICAS, NASBA and AICPA delegates at the MRA signing in New York 


This MRA simplifies the process and reduces the examination requirements for eligible ICAS Members and Licensed CPAs. CAs need only pass one exam – the International Qualification Exam (IQEX) – and satisfy the relevant State Board requirements.   Eligible US CPAs now need only complete: the international qualification pathway, a two-year training contract and have requisite UK audit experience.

For CAs to take advantage of this agreement, they must be an ICAS member in good standing and have completed:

  • An undergraduate degree;
  • The ICAS CA Qualification Program;
  • Two years post-qualification relevant practical work experience.

To apply, a US CPA 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
  • Achieved two years post-qualification practical work experience.

Mark Allison, ICAS Executive Director said: “This agreement has been years in the making and I am delighted that the hard work of ICAS and our US partners has now paid off.

“One of the many benefits of the CA qualification is the opportunities it creates for professionals to work in other countries.”

AICPA President and CEO Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA, commented: “We welcome the mutual recognition that is at the heart of this agreement. It will give US CPAs a clear and accelerated path to obtaining a credential in the United Kingdom. And the same is true of ICAS members with an interest in practicing in the United States.

“Agreements like this come to fruition through the dedication of the respective accounting bodies, the diligence of member volunteers who serve on the International Qualifications Appraisal Board, and the commitment of NASBA and the state boards it represents. Together, we are building increased international recognition for U.S. CPAs in every corner of the world.”

Back Row L-R: Theodore W Long Jnr Chairman NASBA; Ross Allen, British Director of International Trade (US) and Deputy Consul General in New York. Front Row L-R: Ken L Bishop President and CEO of NASBA, Anton Colella CEO of ICAS, Barry C Melancon President and CEO AICPA

Creating the skillset needed in a global business environment

The agreement has been approved by all governing bodies, which in the UK are the Financial Reporting Council and ICAS Council.

Ken L. Bishop, President and CEO of NASBA, commented: “It is remarkable that is has taken decades to reach this historic agreement positively impacting the accounting professions of the United States and the UK.  I applaud the tremendous effort and perseverance of the staff and volunteers of the respective organizations to finalize this crucial agreement.

“We appreciate the participation and support of the UK’s FRC in this endeavor. The relationships developed during this process will serve us well as we work together on future agreements.”

The agreement recognises the skills needed in a global business environment.

Stephen Haddrill, CEO of the FRC

Stephen Haddrill, CEO of the FRC said: “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 the US to gain audit rights in each other’s jurisdictions. We consider that this is an approach that can be replicated more widely.”

Representatives from the three accountancy bodies met in New York, at an official ceremony, to sign the agreement.


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