Authorised Training Office (ATO) application guidance
If you've already registered your interest and are in the process of applying for your organisation to become at Authorised Training Office (ATO), here's some useful information to guide you through the application process.
Our authorisation process
For your organisation to become an ATO it must be authorised by ICAS in accordance with our Education Regulations and our regulatory obligations.
As part of the authorisation process, your organisation must demonstrate that it meets the seven ICAS training standards. These set out requirements in the following areas:
TS1 – Establishment of the Organisation.
TS2 – Organisation of CA Training.
TS3 – Relevant Practical Experience.
TS4 – Supervision, Mentoring and Coaching.
TS5 – Development of Professional and Ethical Attitudes.
TS6 – Recruitment and Selection Policy.
TS7 – Terms and Conditions of Employment.
Open to organisations of any size
Organisations of any size can become an ATO with no additional fees. Our decision to authorise a training office is dependent on your organisation:
- Demonstrating that it can meet the training standards.
- Having an employee or partner who is a member, in good standing, of a full IFAC member body (for a minimum of 3 years) to act as the ICAS counselling member*.
(*The counselling member plays a direct role in supervising, mentoring and coaching students. They also play a pivotal role in monitoring practical training and helping to prepare students towards becoming qualified CAs. Learn more.)
Relevant Practical Experience requirement
An ATO must give a student a structured approach to training for the CA qualification over an agreed time and provide Relevant Practical Experience (or RPE).
RPE is a key component of the CA qualification. It’s also a compulsory requirement for students to qualify and be eligible for ICAS membership.
A crucial way for students to develop skills and knowledge, RPE helps:
- Build a student’s level of proficiency.
- Support and identify areas of professional and personal growth.
- Creates a learning environment to develop the relevant technical skills, attitudes, and ethics of a CA.
It’s therefore important that students receive practical workplace training, in related topics, to operate competently before they can become a qualified CA.
RPE is evidenced in the student logbook which must be regularly updated to show the student's progression through the training period.
Application form and process
The first step in applying for your organisation to become an ATO is to complete our application form. The form asks for all the relevant information (including any required supporting documentation) to demonstrate your organisation meets each of our training standards,.
The application process usually takes between four to six weeks and follows a process as outlined below:
An authorisation visit forms part of the application process. The visit will take place over MS Teams, or at your organisation’s office, at an agreed time and date. It will normally last around 60 minutes.
The visit will be conducted by a member of our Area Training Committee and, usually, an ICAS representative.
The application form content and supporting information will constitute the basis of discussion, providing the opportunity for reviewers to follow up on questions arising from the information provided.
The visit is intended to be a constructive assessment of your organisation’s ability to train students. At the visit, the reviewers will also expect to meet with your proposed counselling member.
After the meeting, the reviewers will form an overall conclusion and recommendation as to the authorisation status of your organisation, which may include conditions or advisory actions. These are then reported to the next meeting of our Qualifications Board for formal approval – the final stage of the application process.
Effective date of authorisation
Authorisation is effective from the date the full submission is received and Relevant Practical Experience can be logged from that date.
Communication of decision
We'll get in touch with details of the decision taken and send a digital Certificate of Authorisation for display within your organisation.
A member of our Business Development team will also contact you to arrange an onboarding call.
ATO quality monitoring
Once approved as an ATO, your organisation will be subject to ICAS quality moderation reviews. These includes a periodic sample review of your students’ RPE logbooks.
Feedback and any action points will be provided as applicable. Failure to comply with any actions may result in the withdrawal of ATO status.
As an ATO, your organisation must ensure it has the following review, quality and compliance mechanisms in place:
- A regular quality-assurance cycle for students and relevant staff, with feedback actively sought and monitored.
- Regular review and monitoring (at least every six months), with competency and time approval performed as applicable.
- Where issues are identified, appropriate actions are taken on a timely basis.
If you have any questions about the process of becoming an ATO or completing the application form, please get in touch with Cassandra Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0131 347 0321.
We look forward to working with you.