What Is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)?

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is a professional membership organization of accountants and finance professionals. With its headquarters in London, the ICAEW was created in 1880 and today boasts over 180,000 members.

Key Takeaways

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is a professional organization for accounting professionals.
  • It is headquartered in London, with additional offices and local branches throughout the world.
  • To become members of the ICAEW, candidates must first complete a series of rigorous exams, in addition to maintaining professional education and ethical conduct requirements.

How the ICAEW Works

As with other organizations such as the United States’ American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the purpose of the ICAEW is to ensure that those entering the accounting professional are equipped with consistently high standards of professional knowledge, competence, and ethical conduct. To that end, the ICAEW administers exams, provides career support services for accounting professionals, and publishes a Code of Ethics which its members are required to adhere to at all times.

Although it is headquartered in London, the ICAEW has offices throughout the world, including branches in Beijing, Brussels, Dubai, and Vietnam. To become a member of the ICAEW, candidates must first obtain the ICAEW Chartered Accountant (ACA) designation. To do so, candidates must first complete at least three years of relevant work experience. Once they are ready to write the ACA exams, candidates must complete 15 modules of coursework focused on areas such as accountancy, finance, and business management. The ACA exam also places a strong emphasis on professional ethics.

To help that their curriculum reflects new developments in the accounting profession, the ICAEW includes ten faculties, each dedicated to a specific area of focus within the industry and staffed by experienced professionals within each field. Through these faculties, the ICAEW develops new material in areas ranging from taxation and audit practices to information technology.

Real World Example of the ICAEW

In the United Kingdom (UK), those wishing to market themselves as “chartered accountants” must first be members of either the ICAEW or another qualifying professional organization, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) or the Chartered Accountants of Ireland (CAI). This regulatory requirement is the result of reforms put in place during the Victorian era, in which a new generation of technically sophisticated accountants needed to be trained in order to keep pace with the growing complexity of the era’s new industrial businesses.

Today, candidates wishing to obtain the ACA qualification and become ICAEW members must demonstrate their competence through a mixture of multiple-choice and essay questions. Altogether, ACA candidates must complete 15 exams, one for each of the program’s modules. In the early stages, the exams consist mainly of multiple-choice questions, whereas the later stages begin to require long-form written responses as well. For particularly ambitious students, the ICAEW also distributes prizes to the students who score most highly on the ACA exams. The prestigious “Peat Prize”, for example, is given to the student with the highest overall score in any advanced-level exam.