Freedom of global movement for CAs is being increased!
Have you envisioned yourself working across the globe as you build your CA career? The freedom of movement for CAs is being extended across Europe to enhance the status of the ICAS qualification and strengthen reciprocity agreements.
The Common Content group, established in 2001, is instrumental in aligning the work of professional accountants and auditors across Europe to enhance the education and training available, and establish a benchmarked standard of excellence for all accountancy and auditor qualifications.
The project now includes Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK as full members, and Poland, Romania and the latest addition, Spain, as Associate Members.
Hans van Damme, the Chair of the Steering Group, welcomed the Instituto de Censores Jurados de Cuentas de España (ICJCE), the Spanish body for accountancy and auditing practitioners:
“Spain has the fifth largest economy in the EU and consequently the Spanish auditing profession plays an important role in the European economy and in the European profession.”
We have relationships with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Hong Kong, England, and Ireland, and their qualifications are based on a legal education system that is very similar to Scotland. Mark Allison, ICAS Executive Director of Education
Associate members include institutes whose qualification is not yet equivalent, but the group is working together to establish areas for change and bring qualifications into line with each other.
“The idea for the Common Content group originally came from trying to extend the reciprocity agreements that ICAS has with English-speaking professional bodies,” explains Mark Allison, Executive Director of Education.
“We have relationships with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Hong Kong, England, and Ireland, and their qualifications are based on a legal education system that is very similar to Scotland.”
Currently, a member of the South African institute can become an ICAS member with no exams, so the ultimate reciprocity deal is ‘no exam, no experience’: “It’s a huge advantage,” said Mark.
“You can join your ‘local’ institute purely on the strength of an application form because we’ve done all the work behind the scenes to check the qualification, exams, syllabus and work experience.”
Ensuring freedom of movement for CAs around Europe
There are far greater differences in accounting around Europe than between the UK and Canada, or Scotland and Hong Kong, for example.
“We decided that if there was a broad equivalence between European qualifications then we could agree they were structurally similar,” said Mark. “This development gives our members and future members the opportunity to go to any of these countries and have their CA qualification recognised.”
One of the benefits of this project is that if an ICAS member wished to work as an auditor in Germany, their institute already knows the high standard of our qualification. Mark Allison
Mark is a founding member of the group and works with fellow institutes to extend the reciprocity agreements across Europe.
“Anything you do in the European context needs to be also aligned with what happens in the European Commission in Brussels, which doesn’t recognise accounting, but does recognise auditing,” said Mark.
“We are making sure that our qualifications also match the EU requirements for movement of auditors. One of the benefits of this project is that if an ICAS member wished to work as an auditor in Germany, their institute already knows the high standard of our qualification and the member has a clear pathway to becoming a registered auditor in Germany.”
“We can then guide you on becoming a member of the ‘local’ institute, as well as helping you take advantage of the services available, such as training, advice on working practices in that country, and recruitment or job opportunities.”
What is the impact of Brexit?
Now that Brexit is likely to be enacted in the following years, the big question is how this will affect reciprocity agreements for accounting across the globe.
“One of the risks that the UK has in Brexit is that professionals who are qualified in the UK and currently have freedom of movement around in Europe (and are recognised as professionals in Europe) may not have that status in the future," said Mark.
“ICAS is working hard to ensure that we maintain that status for our members because we don’t want their ability to work in different countries to diminish.
"This is a European project rather than an EU project, and so we would continue to be a part of this group regardless of what occurs with Brexit; be rest assured that ICAS is working to protect members’ rights in Europe.”
Watch this space for announcements on our work with the US, Singapore and Austria in the coming year, as we continue to strengthen our member pathways to global working arrangements.