New exam is ‘watershed’ for ICAEW

The exam is intended to provide an entry level qualification for graduates, allowing them to sidestep the need for the full chartered exams.

In what will be the first new qualification from the ICAEW since the ACA and FCA, the corporate finance exams will also be open to existing chartered members. Leaders of the institute’s corporate finance faculty also hope the qualification will draw in entrants from banking and investment.

Institute chief executive Eric Anstee said the move, along with the introduction of a qualification in international accounting standards, marked a ‘watershed’ for the institute.

Corporate finance is an area where ‘there is a gap in the market for a provider with acknowledged brand strength, technical excellence and training and assessment capability’, Anstee said.

Chris Ward, the recently appointed chairman of the faculty, said: ‘It’s all about attracting talent in at the bottom. Graduates who want to train want something visible to show for it.’

‘The faculty has been talking to people from the industry and without exception people felt it was a good idea,’ he added.

Ward believes that it will help corporate finance to be recognised as a discipline in its own right and raise standards in the sector.

The new exam will have three stages. (see box) – but the institute has yet to give the qualification a formal name.

The initial stage should provide candidates with regulatory clearance by the Financial Services Authority, though work on the content is going on in conjunction with the Securities Institute in the UK.

As the qualification was launched last week, Ward warned that new ethics under consultation at the Auditing Practices Board should not be allowed to interfere with corporate finance work. There is a fear that new rules could mean corporate financiers would not be able to work for audit clients.

Ward said: ‘What would be outrageous is if the authorities sought to stop us doing corporate finance work for audit clients. Deals are between consenting adults and there is no particular risk to the audit client.’


  • Stage 1 Certificate: will cover regulatory requirements and basic technical proficiencies.
  • Stage 2 Diploma: will include a range of additional foundation knowledge, skills in areas such as analysis of financial statements, valuations, M&A, debt and equity products, and ethical issues.
  • Stage 3 Advanced Diploma: will provide knowledge for candidates who have managerial aspirations, and those who complete this stage will receive the designation for the qualification.

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