ACCA defines Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as ‘the continuous maintenance, development and enhancement of the professional and personal knowledge and skills which members of ACCA require throughout their working lives’.

CPD is the learning we all need to do to stay competent and to develop new skills to be effective in our jobs and careers. CPD, therefore, is something which ACCA members will almost certainly already be doing as part of their everyday working lives.

CPD does not necessarily require attending courses. We all learn in different ways, for example through reading, personal study, internet research, discussions and work activities. ACCA ‘s CPD scheme encompasses all these forms of learning activity.

Why is ACCA introducing CPD as a requirement for all members?
From 1 January 2005 onwards, ACCA will introduce CPD as a requirement for all active members. The rationale behind the decision is outlined below.

  • The public expects ACCA professionals to perform competently in their roles. CPD is one way that members can demonstrate that appropriate competence is being developed and maintained.
  • A growing number of employers have implemented or are introducing employee development systems that evaluate and develop employee’s skills and knowledge. There is an expectation amongst employers that professionals embrace such developments, keep up to date, and refresh relevant skills and knowledge.
  • The international standard setter, the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), recently issued a new International Education Standard (IES) 7, which requires the introduction of CPD for all active members of IFAC member bodies. This includes ACCA . Regulators of other sectors are also starting to focus on CPD.
  • ACCA ‘s extensive consultation in 2003 found that members support the move to CPD. Members commented that CPD was something that they should take personal responsibility for, and agreed that undertaking CPD would help them develop skills that are relevant to their present and future employment.

Why is it important for members to complete CPD?
It is important that ACCA members remain competent and develop new skills to remain effective in their jobs and careers. This will help maintain members’ employability and their reputation with employers, clients and the public. It will also help maintain ACCA ‘s reputation for producing and supporting high calibre professionals.

How did ACCA develop its new CPD scheme – ACCA Realise ?
ACCA Realise – the new CPD scheme has been developed in consultation with members. By the close of the global CPD consultation in October 2003, some 10,000 members, representing 10% of ACCA ‘s membership, had provided feedback on the scheme.

50 workshops in 30 countries also provided in-depth views on the proposals. The global spread of responses from members across all employment sectors provided a representative sample of ACCA’s membership ACCA used the feedback to shape ACCA Realise to meet the requirements of its members. ACCA ‘s response to the feedback from the consultation can be viewed h ere.

What are the principles that underpin ACCA Realise ?
ACCA Realise upholds the following principles.

  • A clear and fair standard for all members, with an emphasis on transparency and commitment to maintaining standards
  • Efficient and effective delivery ensuring that ACCA is responsive to the needs of all members and provides positive and appropriate support to help them achieve the CPD requirement
  • Adding value to ACCA membership. The scheme will help members realise their potential and career aspirations. ACCA will provide tools to help members plan their development as well as opportunities for members to refresh and develop their knowledge and skills. This will reassure employers and the public that ACCA members are competent and have up-to-date skills and knowledge.

Will all members have to keep accountancy skills up to date as part of CPD?
ACCA requires members to ensure they maintain and develop business and/or financial knowledge and skills that are relevant to their role and career aspirations. Members will also be asked to state on their annual CPD return that they maintain competence in professional ethics. Practising certificate and insolvency licence holders will still be required to participate in technical CPD training.

How much is the new CPD scheme going to cost members?
ACCA Realise will not affect members’ subscription rates and is not a revenue generating exercise. There should be no additional cost burden for members. ACCA is committed to reinforcing the professionalism and reputation of its members and has introduced a range of new products and services to support them in their development.

What CPD resources will ACCA offer its members on a cost-free basis?
Members have access to a range of products and services to support them in their development. These include free member-only online resources such as the Professional Development Matrix (PDM) and the Knowledge Library.

Who will have to complete CPD?
All members who are active in the workplace must participate in ACCA Realise , subject to the phasing-in dates. See section 7 of the FAQs, ‘Who will get waivers’, for information about waivers.

How does the new CPD scheme affect practising certificate holders? Practising certificate and insolvency licence holders will complete CPD under the new scheme requirements from 1 January 2005 .

What about members doing voluntary work? If members have achieved a position as a result of their ACCA qualification, they are responsible for ensuring that their knowledge and skills are up to date and will be required to undertake CPD.

When will the scheme be implemented?
Members admission dates determine when they are required to participate in ACCA Realise.

The scheme is to be introduced in phases, as follows:

  • 2005, phase 1 – members admitted since 1 January 2001 , and all practising certificate and insolvency licence holders
  • 2006, phase 2 – members admitted between 1 January 1995 and 31 December 2000
  • 2007, phase 3 – all remaining members.

ACCA encourages all members to adopt the scheme from 1 January 2005 . Members can opt into the scheme by contacting ACCA Connect . This will enable members to register to complete their CPD return online and receive the paper return form. The CPD year will run from 1 January to 31 December and members will be required to provide a CPD return by 1 January the following year. This date has been linked to the subscription process to reduce the administrative burden on members. Evidence does not have to be submitted with the CPD return.

When can members start doing CPD?
ACCA encourages all members to continually review their knowledge and skills and to participate in development and training activities. Members can opt into ACCA Realise early by contacting ACCA Connect . This will enable them to register to complete their CPD return online and receive a paper form. See FAQ ‘When will the scheme be implemented’ for information on when members will be required to participate in the scheme.

When do affiliates who have become members join the scheme?
Affiliates join the CPD scheme on 1 January following their date of admittance to membership.

Can members who complete CPD in 2004 carry it forward to 2005?
CPD which is undertaken in 2004 will not count towards the 2005 requirement.

How can members complete the CPD requirement?
ACCA Realise has been devised to be flexible and responsive to members’ individual circumstances. There are two routes to participation in ACCA’s CPD scheme: the unit scheme route and the approved CPD employer route.

The unit scheme route encourages members to evaluate their learning and development needs and plan their CPD. This would involve selecting learning activities that ensure relevant knowledge and skills are maintained, or developed. 40 units of CPD, approximately equivalent to 40 hours are required each year. The approved CPD employer route: members may already have access to comprehensive learning and development schemes supported by their employer. These schemes can be recognised as effectively providing ACCA members with CPD if the employer becomes an approved CPD employer.

Alternatively, if a member is also a member of another IFAC accounting body and that CPD scheme is compliant with IFAC’s CPD International Education Standard 7, they may choose to follow that body’s route. In these cases members must fully comply with their body’s requirements.

For more on ACCA’s CPD arrangements go to

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