Who are World Chartered Accountants?

We bring together the leading institutes of Chartered Accountants from around the world to support, develop and promote the vital role that Chartered Accountants play throughout the global economy. Chartered Accountants have been a mark of excellence across all aspects of business and financial life fro many years. Today, Chartered Accountants advise organisations, lead major companies, shape economic policy and deliver effective financial management and reporting.

Together, we’re committed to ensuring that our members continue to stand apart, defining excellence throughout their career, throughout the world.

Connecting hundreds of thousands of members and students, we: promote the commitment of our global membership to the highest standards of professional and ethical practice. Create greater opportunities globally for those seeking to become or develop as Chartered Accountants and those looking to train or employ them share expertise and innovation to maintain Chartered Accountancy’s position as the preeminent qualification for those in accountancy, finance and business.



ACCOUNTING OR ACCOUNTANCY is the measurement, processing and communication of financial information about economic entities such as businesses and corporations. The modern field was established by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli in 1494. Accounting, which has been called the “language of business”, measures the results of an organisation’s economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of users, including investor, creditors, management, and regulators. Practitioners of accounting are known as accountants. The terms “accounting” and “financial reporting” are often used as synonyms.

Accounting can be divided into several fields including financial accounting, management accounting, external auditing, tax accounting and cost accounting. Accounting information systems are designed to support accounting functions and related activities. Financial accounting focuses on the reporting of an organisation’s financial information, including the preparation of financial statements, to external users of the information, such as investors, regulators and suppliers; and management accounting focuses on the measurement, analysis and reporting of information for internal use by management. The recording of financial transactions, so that summaries of the financials may be presented in financial reports, is known as bookkeeping, of which double-entry bookkeeping is the most common system. Accounting is facilitated by accounting organisations such as standard-setters, accounting firms and professional bodies. Financial statement are usually audited by accounting firms, and are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) GAAP is set by various standard-setting organisations such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in the United States and the Financial Reporting Council in the United Kingdom. As of 2012, “all major economies” have plans to converge towards or adopt the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).




Portrait of Luca Pacioli, painted by Jacopo de’ Barbari, 1495, (Museo di Capodimonte).

The history of accounting is thousands of years old and can be traced to ancient civilizations. The early development of accounting dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, and is closely related to developments in writing, counting and money; there is also evidence for early forms of bookkeeping in ancient Iran, and early auditing systems by the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. By the time of the Emperor Augustus, the Roman government had access to detailed financial information. Double-entry bookkeeping developed in medieval Europe, and accounting split into financial accounting and management accounting with the development of joint-stock companies. The first work on a double-entry bookkeeping system was published it Italy, by Luca Pacioli. Accounting began to transition into an organizes profession in the nineteenth century, with local professional bodies in England merging to form the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in 1880.


Early 19th-century ledger.

Both the words accounting and accountancy were in use in Great Britain by the mid-1800s, and are derived from the words accompting and accountantship used in the 18th century. In Middle English (used roughly between the 12th and the late 15th century) the verb “to account” had the from accounten, which was derived from the Old French word aconter, which is in turn related to the Vulgar Latin word computare, meaning “to reckon”. The base of computare is putare, which “variously meant to prune, to purify, to correct an account, hence, to count or calculate, as well as to think. The word “accountant” is derived from the French word compter, which is also derived from the Italian and Latin word computare. The word was formerly written in English as “accomptant”, but in process of time the word, which was always pronounced by dropping the “p”, became gradually changed both in pronunciation and in orthography to its present from.



Financial Reporting Council (FRC) sets accounting standards. However, as of 2012 “all major economies” have plans to converge towards or adopt the IFRS.




At least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is required for most accountant and auditor job positions, and some employers prefer applicants with a master’s degree. A degree in accounting may also be required for, or may be used to fulfill the requirements for, membership to professional accounting bodies.


A doctorate is required in order to pursue a career in accounting academia, for example to work as a university professor in accounting. The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) are the most popular degrees. The PhD is the most common degree for those wishing to pursue a career in academia, while DBA programs generally focus on equipping business executives for business or public careers requiring research skills and qualifications.



Se also: Chartered Accountant and Certified Public Accountant

Professional accounting qualifications include the Chartered Accountant designations and other qualifications including certificates and diplomas.



Accounting research is research in the effects of economic events on the process of accounting, and the effects of reported information on economic events. It encompasses a broad range of research areas including financial accounting, management accounting, auditing and taxation.

Accounting research is carried out both by academic researchers and practicing accountants. Methodologies in academic accounting research can be classified into archival research, which examines “objective data collected from repositories”; experimental research, which examines data “the researcher gathered by administering treatments to subjects”; and analytical research, which is “based on the act of formally modeling theories or substantiating ideas in mathematical terms”. This classification is not exhaustive; other possible methodologies include the use of case studies, computer simulations and field research.

Accounting information system

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Many accounting practices have been simplified with the help of accounting computer-based software. An Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is commonly used for a large organisation and it provides a comprehensive, centralized, integrated source of information that companies can use to manage all major business processes, from purchasing to manufacturing to human resources. Accounting information systems have reduced the cost of accumulating, storing, and reporting managerial accounting information and have made it possible to produce a more detailed account of all data that is entered into any given system.



See also: Accounting ethics

The year 2001 witnessed a series of financial information frauds involving Enron, auditing firm Arthur Andersen, the telecommunications company WorldCom, Qwest and Sunbeam, among other well-known corporations. These problems highlighted the need to review the effectiveness of accounting standards, auditing regulations and corporate governance principles. In some cases, management manipulated the figures shown in financial report to indicate a better economic performance. In others, tax and regulatory incentives encouraged over-leveraging of companies and decisions to bear extraordinary and unjustified risk.

The Enron scandal deeply influenced the development of new regulations to improve the reliability of financial reporting, and increased public awareness about the importance of having accounting standards that show the financial reality of companies and the objectivity and independence of auditing firms.

In addition to being the largest bankruptcy reorganization in American history, the Enron scandal undoubtedly is the biggest audit failure. It involved a financial scandal of Enron Corporation and their auditors Arthur Andersen, which was revealed in late 2001. The scandal caused the dissolution of Arthur Andersen, which at the time was one of the five largest accounting firms in the world. After a series of revelations involving irregular accounting procedures conducted throughout the 1990s, Enron filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2001.

One consequence of these events was the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley Act in United States 2002, as a result of the first admission of fraudulent behavior made by Enron. The act significantly raises criminal penalties for securities fraud, for destroying, altering or fabricating records in federal investigations or any scheme or attempt to defraud shareholders.



Flexible, experience-based training

In brief

The AT designation is formal recognition of your practical accounting skills and experience. Choose from one of two pathways to become an AT and broaden your career options ATs may be able to work in financial roles including payroll, account management, budget preparation and more

Build the foundations

Accounting Technicians (ATS) prepare and mange financial accounts across different areas of finance and business.

Their skills are valued by originations that employ qualified ATs in roles such as account management, payroll, budget preparation or assistant finance manager.

Our flexible, detailed training program has learning options to suit different individuals.

Whether you’re just starting out in your accounting career or building on the experience you already have, you can earn the AT designation through practical, academic or on-the-job learning.

Pathways to membership

You can apply for membership and start your journey through one of the following pathway:

Academic pathway: a formal academic qualification covering accounting and business management.



Experience pathway: an assessment of your practical skills and experience against set competencies, gained through on-the-job training.

If you chose the academic pathway you will also need to satiety practical experience requirements. All candidates are required to complete the professional ethics program.

Practical experience

Practical experience complements your educational requirements by providing the opportunity to apply your knowledge.

It can also provide you with the knowledge, professional skills and hands-on-learning to excel and stand out.

You must complete two years of relevant accounting employment; at least 17.5 hours per week for a minimum of three months in one role (full time equivalent based on a 35 hour week).

Relevant accounting employment provides experience in at least one of the following areas:

Financial accounting


General practice

Management accounting


Financial management

Financial advice


Information systems




This experience will be verified by your supervisor or manager and reviewed by a current Chartered Accountants ANZ member.

Relevant Accounting Employment Form

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The next Professional Ethics course is available from 1 August. Further course details coming soon. Professional Ethics is an integral part of the designation and the Professional Ethics Module is specifically tailored for Chartered Accountants members. It takes approximately 20 hours of online study and an exam.

You need to be provisional member of the College of Accounting Technicians before you can register for the Professional Ethics course.

Pathways to becoming an AT

Academic pathway


Affiliate membership is for any principal or partner of a Chartered Accounting firm without ACA designation

Becoming an Affiliate member also gives you access to extensive professional support and timely information



To be a chartered firm, all practice principals and directors need to be a Chartered Accountant or hold Affiliate membership with us.

Your newly appointed or existing directors, principals or partners can seek to expand their professional opportunities along with those of the practice by becoming a Chartered Accountants.

Affiliate benefits

Becoming an Affiliate member also gives you access to extensive professional support and important information.

Access to quality, up-to-date knowledge and information across a broad range of industry related fields Networking opportunities with members and industry experts

Professional and technical support

You are entitled to use the ‘Affiliate, Chartered Accountants designation after your name on your business card and signature.

If your practice is located in Australia, you can also apply for Practice Entity Membership. This may provide you with an extra level of risk management through access to the Liability Capping Scheme.



Having CIWCA letters after your name links you with a tradition of excellence, drive for innovation and high global ethical standards that is recognizable to employers around the world.

CIWCA membership is your key to professional opportunities throughout the world. And because the portability of our professional qualification is one of the main reasons people undertake CIWCA studies, you’re likely to meet with fellow members, should you opt for a global career or a fixed-term overseas post to enhance your CV with international experience.



This depends on a number of factors, including the number of exemptions you can claim, the number of exams you take every year – and what results you achave. This table sets out the average length of time – and costs excluding tuition fees – involved in completing the CIWCA Qualification.



The quickest and easiest way is via CIWCA online registration – it should take you no more that 10 minutes to complete.



You can save your part-completed application at any time and return to it later. To return to a saved application you will need to enter your CIWCA reference number. This will have been emailed to you when you saved your application.



Applying online also allows you to upload all your supporting documents. This means your CIWCA application will be processed much quicker and you will known at which level you can start your studies shortly after submitting your application.



Before you apply, please check that you have read and fully understand the relevant information on:

Required documents

Possible exemptions

Payments and fees

Important dates

You will be asked about your preferences on these in the online application – and will need to answer the to complete the process.



In order to complete the application you will need to provide the following:

Proof of any qualifications

Prof of identity

Passport-style photograph.

If you choose to apply online and upload your documents, you will need to complete your application by making your payment online.

Please note that each document file size must not exceed 2 MB. A maximum of 20 files may be uploaded. Permitted file types include:

Plain text files (TXT format)

Microsoft Word (DOC format)

Microsoft Excel (XLS format)

Images (in BMP, GIF, JPEG or format)

Adobe PDF.



IF you already have some qualifications you may not have to take all of the exams in the CIWCA Qualification or Foundations Accountancy awards. These are called exemptions and mean that you will start your studies at the right level for your knowledge and skills.

You should apply for exemptions when you first register as a student with CIWCA you can do this by entering your qualification details during the application process, and our database will confirm any exemptions that may be available to you. You must send official proof of any qualifications you are eligible for exemptions, or send in copies (not originals) along with your registration form if applying by post. When your exemptions have been awarded, you will be issued with an exemption notification and an invoice. You will need to pay an exemption fee for each paper awarded. Exemption fees are charged at the early exam entry fee. Students are charged a one-off fee for each exemption awarded to cover administration costs.


Our exemptions calculator details all exemptions that may be available on the basis of qualifications held by students. This includes exemptions awarded to accredited programmes and exemptions awarded using our exemption framework.



You can register at any time of the year. The easiest and quickest way to apply is online.

If you can’t apply online, you will need to submit a paper application form.



Exams currently take place in June and December in all markets.



If you choose to apply online and post documents, then you may complete your application by using any of the following methods of payment:

Credit/debit card


Money Gram


Banker’s draft, Western Union

Postal order, money Transfer

v If experiencing any difficulty with Alipay, please refer to their website for help.

Registration, subscription and exam entry fees

Upon registration, each student must pay both the initial registration fee and the annual subscription fee, if you register to become a student before June this is because you’re eligible to sit at more than one exam session in a calendar year. Our calendar year runs from January to December. Check with your employer. Many of our students have all or some of their fees paid for by their employers. So it’s worth checking if your employer could cover some or all of your CIWCA fees. Remember though, even if your employer pays your fees, the ultimate responsibility for them is your – so if your employer withdraws their financial support, you’ll have to cover your fees.