The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
(ICAEW) has launched a qualification it claims will widen access to
the accounting profession.

The Certificate in Business Accounting and Finance (CFAB)
comprises the first six of the 15 modules required for the full ACA
qualification. It is aimed at a wide market including both aspiring
CAs and those who simply require a broad understanding of
accounting.

ICAEW executive director of learning and professional
development Raymond Madden said CFAB opens the profession to more
people because there are no formal entry requirements. In
comparison, to begin the full ACA, students typically have to
achieve first- or upper-second-class honours.

The relaxed requirements are deliberate, Madden said. If
students pass the CFAB, there is nothing stopping them from
continuing to study the ACA.

CFAB was officially launched on 15 September but it had already
been trialed by a number of candidates. One, who worked in the risk
department at BDO Stoy Hayward, completed it in four months,
although Madden anticipates on average it will take about a year to
complete. Assessment is online so students can progress at their
own pace.

Madden hopes there will be 100 people studying the course by
Christmas and as many as 1,000 within in year.

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Madden said the BDO employee was one example of the type of
person the qualification would appeal to. The candidate had no
desire to complete the ACA but worked for a professional services
firm and wanted to understand his colleagues’ roles.

Madden suggested other candidates could include people working
in the back office, as well as people in areas such as IT.

He said it could also be suitable for smaller accounting
practices.

“If you are a small practitioner doing relatively low-level but
profitable work, like tax returns or something a bit more
sophisticated, this would be quite attractive,” he said.

“In some ways for the small practice market that is not doing
sophisticated financial reporting, the ACA qualification is
probably too sophisticated and it is a time commitment out of the
office.”

Madden also predicts significant potential internationally –
noting CFAB will be launched in Malaysia in November.

Carolyn Canham