What is a Chartered Accountant - CA

Chartered accountant (CA) is an international accounting designation granted to accounting professionals in many countries around the world, aside from the United States. A CA credential typically proves that its holder has the qualifications to file a business's tax return, audit financial statements and business practices, and offer advisory services to clients. In the United States, the equivalent to the CA designation is certified public accountant (CPA).

BREAKING DOWN Chartered Accountant - CA

Chartered accountants claim to be the first accounting group to form a professional body, in 1854 in Britain. Today there are many organizations that such accountants belong to across the world, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.

How to Become a Chartered Accountant

Different countries impose different rules and regulations on the process of becoming a CA. For example, in New Zealand, prospective accountants must complete a recognized academic program such as a three-year bachelor's degree or an accredited masters degree covering accounting and business topics. Then candidates must complete a practical experience program and finally a CA program. These programs train candidates in modern accounting methods.

In Canada, people who wish to become chartered professional accountants must complete an undergraduate degree with coursework in business and accounting areas. Then they can enroll in a professional education program for chartered professional accountants.

What Chartered Accountants Do

In most cases, CAs focus on one of four areas: audit and assurance, financial accounting and reporting, management accounting and applied finance, or taxation. Depending on their area of focus, CAs may handle one aspect of a company's business, they may oversee all of a company's accounting needs, or they may work as freelance CAs who handle accounting matters for multiple clients.

Difference Between Chartered Accountants and CPAs

The main difference between CAs and CPAs is that the CPA is a designation used in the United States, while CA is used in many other countries. On a day-to-day basis, these professionals perform very similar tasks. Around the world, the CPA abbreviation can refer to different types of accounting professionals. For example, in Canada, a CPA is a Chartered Professional Accountant, and in Australia, a CPA is a Certified Practicing Accountant.

Members of Chartered Professional Accountants Canada, the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and Chartered Accountants Ireland have a reciprocity agreement with the United States. If these CA professionals pass a test, their qualifications can transfer to the United States, where they may work as CPAs.