Chartered accountants are qualified accountants who have undergone further training and skills examination in addition to their accounting qualification. Becoming a chartered accountant qualifies the person for membership of their home institute. Home institute is a collective term for a group of accounting institutes spread across the English-speaking world in countries like Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain and South Africa.
The term “chartered” originated when Queen Victoria granted royal charters to the profession over 150 years ago. A rigorous process of training is undergone for any accountant to gain the title of chartered accountant. Due to what is involved in attaining this title, the designation of the term chartered accountant has become a world standard for professional conduct and expertise in the accounting field.
All additional training to become a chartered accountant must be undertaken with a suitably registered training organization. While still working and studying, the candidate must also be under the mentorship of an experienced chartered accountant. This intensive training and study increases versatility in the roles that can be undertaken and exposes candidates to a wide range of industries and businesses.
Once admitted to the home institute, chartered accountants are required to maintain the highest standards of professional conduct and ethics in order to remain as members. They must keep up to date with global developments in commerce and finance, and particularly any legislative or taxation changes introduced by various governments. Their home institute will continue to supervise ongoing professional development to maintain levels of competence in all members.
With the continued expansion of global trade, the role of chartered accountants in international commerce has increased, and the range and scope of their professional activities includes all types of financial accounting, management and investing. As most businesses now operate globally to varying degrees, chartered accountants with international business experience are highly valued. Managers, investors, tax authorities, and others turn to chartered accountants for financial information that can confidently be used in decision making and strategizing.
Increased public pressure for organizations to be good corporate citizens has caused chartered accountants to be placed in positions of trust in senior management and board positions. They understand the desire of investors and stakeholders for more honesty and transparency in disclosure reporting, and have the skills and training to deliver that assurance. Chartered accountants are well-placed to understand the developing international corporate environment and as a result, to guide their organizations.