Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) guidelines for continuing professional development.

All members contribute to the reputation of ICAS and the CA Brand regardless of their current role because they are all part of the publics’ perception of ICAS and how ICAS can promote itself to the outside world.

Fast Forward to 2010 sets out ICAS’ commitment to strengthening the CA Brand and an important part of this process will be ICAS’ ability to demonstrate that all its members are keeping their skills up to date and working in the public interest. Extending a CPD requirement to all members is a very practical and effective means of providing this demonstration as well as satisfying the regulators’ requirements that CPD should be mandatory for all members.

My CA background is beneficial but I am no longer in a traditional accountancy role. How will the proposals for a new scheme impact on those of us who use the CA Brand as a business qualification rather than a strict accountancy one?
Your CPD activities should support you in your current role and likely future direction. They should provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to perform effectively and competently in your current role and to meet the expectations placed on you by your employers, colleagues and clients. You will not be expected to maintain core competencies that are not relevant to your present role or chosen area of expertise. If you have moved out of mainstream accountancy then it is expected that your choice of CPD activities will reflect this.

How will ICAS deal with the diversity of skills and roles amongst members when it comes to the monitoring and measurement of the new scheme?
A key principle behind the new CPD proposals is that the responsibility for deciding on what CPD activities to undertake should rest with the individual member. It is they who are in the best position to assess what activities are relevant to their role and the learning outcomes achieved as a result of undertaking these activities.

ICAS’ role will be to ascertain if a member has exercised their professional judgement by undertaking a process of professional development. It will expect to see this process recording a range of CPD activities together with the member’s reflections on the learning outcomes of these activities or the impact they have had on their role and levels of expertise. Individual activities will be assessed based on the principle of ‘reasonableness’ in relation to a member’s particular role and career stage but it will be a discernable process of professional development that will be the important factor in the monitoring process.

The flexibility of the new scheme appeals to me but how can the scheme be both flexible and rigorous?
Members will be asked to sign an explicit declaration with their Annual Return confirming that they have complied with the new CPD requirements and failure to do this will constitute a disciplinary offence.

ICAS is also looking at implementing a risk based approach to the monitoring and compliance of the new scheme with high risk categories of members more likely to be selected for monitoring purposes. It will also use the existing regulatory framework within ICAS to monitor the compliance of members working in regulated areas. Failure to submit a training plan for review will also constitute a disciplinary offence as will consistent failure to take on board any remedial action suggested by ICAS on the occasion where there is no discernable process of professional development. ICAS will take every opportunity to enforce the new CPD requirement when members fail to comply but comprehensive support will be made available to ensure that there is every opportunity for all members to benefit from the new scheme.

How will the new scheme impact on members working in regulated areas and already subject to mandatory CPD?
Members working in these areas will be expected to maintain and develop certain core technical competencies to meet the expectations placed upon them by ICAS, their clients and other stakeholders.

Currently ICAS is working with the relevant ICAS committees to establish competency frameworks and specific guidance for these members. However, these members will have the same degree of flexibility as other members with regard to their choice of CPD activities and how they propose to obtain and develop these core competencies. Monitoring and compliance of these members will be carried out via the existing regulatory framework at ICAS.

If you remove a set hours based requirement how will I know when I have done enough CPD?
ICAS wants to move away from a prescriptive approach to CPD to one that focuses on individual professional responsibility and which recognises that not all CPD activities can and should be measured in hours.

For this reason the new approach asks you to take responsibility for how much CPD you do and to exercise your professional judgement as to when you feel that you have acquired the necessary skills and expertise to do your job competently. A good test will be if any third party including ICAS is able to discern that you have undergone a process of professional development that includes a range of CPD activities and which records and reflects on the activities you have undertaken. As part of the support and guidance being offered under the proposed scheme, ICAS will be providing case studies and examples of how members in different roles might be expected to meet the new CPD requirements.

What types of activities will be recognised as relevant CPD?
The new scheme will make no distinction between structured or unstructured CPD or formal or informal CPD activities.

Instead, the individual member is free to choose the learning medium best suited to their particular training needs or governed by the resources available to them. ICAS will be publishing comprehensive guidance to help its members identify relevant CPD activities, however, all types of CPD activity based around multi- media learning, ‘on the job’ learning, research and attending courses and seminars will be considered relevant.

Is there a plan to run down the traditional hours based system at the same time as implementing the new output based system?
It is envisaged that all members subject to a mandatory CPD requirement for the first time will adopt the new proposals from the outset.

Members currently complying with the current hours based requirement will have a transition period within which to make the switch from one scheme to the other. More details on this transition period will be made available as the scheme develops.

Is the scheme cost effective and how will it be resourced?
The new scheme can be fully integrated with the existing structures within ICAS both in terms of its monitoring and compliance and in the support services ICAS intends to offer its members. This makes it cost effective and easily resourced.

I am already participating in my employer’s training and development scheme. How can I find out if this scheme might qualify for accreditation by ICAS?
ICAS is currently working with a number of organisations to develop appropriate accreditation criteria for employers’ in- house training and development schemes. Any member participating in an accredited scheme will be deemed to be satisfying ICAS’ requirements and will not be required to submit additional documentation to ICAS if selected for monitoring purposes.

As a retired member of ICAS how will the proposals affect me?
ICAS is proposing that retired members sign a one- off declaration with their Annual Return to confirm that they are fully retired and therefore exempt from the new scheme. However, semi- retired members will be expected to undertake an appropriate level of CPD activity relevant to any work they are undertaking. For example, a semi- retired member serving as a non-executive director will be expected to keep up to date with any issues impacting on their role.

These issues might include changes in Corporate Governance and Company Law and he or she will be expected to demonstrate that they were keeping their skills and knowledge up to date in these areas, however, they will have the flexibility to choose the CPD activities they consider best suited to their individual development needs.

As a member of ICAS working overseas will the new proposals apply to me? If they do then I am worried that I will not have access to the right training courses or seminars to ensure my compliance with the CPD requirements?
The new proposals will apply to all members including members working overseas. However, the new CPD scheme is designed to be flexible enough to ensure that overseas members can identify and undertake CPD activities that are relevant to their role and circumstances.

ICAS is proposing to recognise a wide range of activities for CPD purposes not just formal training courses and seminars. A member working overseas might want to undertake a range of CPD activities, including e-learning, technical reading and research, in- house briefings provided by their employer and ‘on the job’ learning and experience. For example, learning a foreign language might help an overseas member perform their role more effectively and would therefore count as CPD. ICAS will be providing a comprehensive list of activities that might be considered for CPD purposes. A section of the Fast Forward CPD website aimed at overseas members will shortly be available shortly and will feature additional guidance and case studies.

ICAS’ proposals for a new CPD scheme will continue to evolve as it continues to receive questions and comments from its members. If you have any questions or comments to make, then please contact ICAS on the dedicated email address fastforwardcpd@icas.org.uk.

For more on ICAS’s CPD arrangements go to www.ica s.org.uk/site/cms/contentChapterView.asp?chapter=78

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