ACA qualification to incorporate emerging technologies from 2021

The partnership between ICAEW and Inflo aims to incorporate technology into accountancy education as it recognises its prominence within the work of accountants today. The qualification will allow future accountants to use technology as a skill set throughout their work. The achieved skills focus on improving work performance in tasks such as fraud testing or risk assessment.

Inflo’s collaboration with ICAEW offers a focus on Audit and Assurance exams. The improved examination will help students develop skills required by new technologies through both practical and knowledge-based assessments.

Auditors in practice have adopted more advanced approaches throughout their work by using analytical and interpretive skills which ICAEW wishes to incorporate in the ACA qualification.

A potential extension

The collaboration could potentially be extended into other exams across ACA qualifications by expand into Corporation Reporting exams, says ICAEW.

Mark Protherough, ICAEW Executive Director, Learning and Professional Development commented: “We plan to incorporate the use of Inflo in each of the Audit and Assurance and Corporate Reporting exams, from 2021 onwards. The exam will task students with reviewing company data as well as a variety of visualisations and results from performing data analytics.”

“Students will be required to analyse and interpret the results, provide commentary, justify their actions and articulate the conclusions they draw. In the Corporate Reporting exam, students will also be provided with advance information on a client’s interim results to read and assimilate before the exam, followed by the client’s full year being provided in the exam itself.”

Current and future workplace

The work executed by ICAEW and Inflo reflects a broader shift within accountancy, where technology has taken a prominent place within the industry.

“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 enhance assessment of professional judgement, scepticism and the use and interpretation of data analytics,” said Protherough.

“Employers have been consulted globally on this issue as part of the consultations on the future of the ACA, and there is strong support for embedding technology across the syllabus,” he added.

The collaboration between ICAEW and Inflo was introduced as a result of the continuous use of Inflo by many world-wide accountancy firms today. Accountants have integrated the software into their audit, tax, and advisory work.

“Having qualified with ICAEW myself, I have experienced first-hand the opportunities presented by obtaining the ACA qualification. Yet the world of business is different now from when I sat my exams. The role of accountants is rapidly changing, and technology is the accelerant behind this change,” said CEO of Inflo Mark Edmonson.

“Through embracing the resultant skills challenge and by incorporating emerging technologies within the ACA, ICAEW is ensuring that the accountancy profession remains attractive to those at the beginning of their career, while providing the skills and experience needed to have a long and successful one.”

Positive feedback

Participants of the pilot testing led by ICAEW provided positive feedback. Students with technology experience attempted modified Audit and Assurance and Corporate Reporting exams.

The revised ACA qualification is set to commence in 2021, starting with the March Audit and Assurance exam and then the July Corporate Reporting exam. The 2021 learning materials will be available September 2020.

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