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New ICAEW chartered accountants to learn data analytics, take modified exams
THE Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is refreshing its Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) qualification by introducing emerging technologies into the curriculum.
Starting from 2021, ICAEW will incorporate the use of Inflo, a financial data analytics software, in examinations for two modules of the qualification: audit and assurance as well as corporate reporting.
It will be introduced first with the audit and assurance exam in March that year, followed by the corporate reporting exam in June. The new approach will be reflected in the 2021 learning materials which will be published in September 2020.
The Inflo software may potentially be extended to other modules across the ACA syllabus in the future.
As of end-2018, there were close to 1,200 ACAs in Singapore. Holders of the qualification can apply to become a full member of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants and be conferred the professional designation of Chartered Accountant (Singapore).
The modified audit and assurance exam will task students with reviewing company data, visualisations and financial results using data analytics. Students will be required to analyse and interpret the results, provide commentary, justify their actions, and articulate the conclusions they draw.
Auditors in practice are increasingly using more advanced approaches to interrogate client data, ICAEW said on Thursday. They apply techniques such as data analytics to perform work including risk assessment or fraud testing.
For the modified corporate reporting module, students will be given advance information on a client’s interim results to read through before the exam. The client’s full-year results will be provided in the exam itself.
Mark Protherough, ICAEW executive director for learning and professional development, said this change is important in order to ensure that the ACA qualification remains relevant and practical.
“Hands-on use of data analytics techniques will enable the exams to reflect the current and future workplace, and improve the assessment of professional judgement, scepticism and the use and interpretation of data analytics,” Mr Protherough noted.
Inflo chief executive Mark Edmonson, who is also a qualified chartered accountant with the ICAEW, said the role of accountants is rapidly changing especially with technology.
“The world of business is different now from when I sat for my exams,” Mr Edmonson said.
ICAEW has completed its pilot testing with current students attempting the modified exams. The institute said it received “very positive” feedback from the students.
Employers globally have also indicated strong support for embedding technology across the syllabus during ICAEW’s consultations with them, Mr Protherough noted.
The institute said it decided to collaborate with Inflo for the ACA qualification because many accountancy firms of all sizes around the world have already integrated the software into their audit, tax and advisory work.
ICAEW is also developing an education partnership programme with Inflo, to be offered in the future to organisations that train and assess the accounting profession.