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Study of Registration Practices of the
INSTITUTE OF CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS OF ONTARIO, 2007

  1. 1. INTRODUCTION
  2. 2. BACKGROUND OF THE REGULATORY BODY
    1. a. Legislation
    2. b. Protected Titles
    3. c. Definition of the Profession
    4. d. Labour Market/Economic Trends
    5. e. New Developments Within the Profession
    6. f. Staffing
  3. 3. REGISTRATION PRACTICES
    1. a. Registration Requirements and Application Process
    2. b. Documentation Required from Internationally Trained Individuals
    3. c. Credential Assessment (Third Party and/or Internal)
    4. d. Academic/Program Requirements
    5. e. Work Experience Requirements
    6. f. Examinations
    7. g. Language Requirements
    8. h. Fees
    9. i. Third Parties
    10. j. Typical Length of the Registration Process
    11. k. Accredited Programs
    12. l. Internal Review/Appeal Process
  4. 4. BRIDGING PROGRAMS
  5. 5. MUTUAL RECOGNITION AGREEMENTS
  6. 6. APPLICANTS’ INTERACTIONS WITH REGULATORY BODY
    1. a. Nature and Frequency of Communication
    2. b. Backlogs
    3. c. Complaints Regarding the Registration Process
  7. 7. CHANGES SINCE THE 2005 SURVEY
  8. 8. REGISTRATION INFORMATION AND STATISTICS
  9. 9. SOURCES

ISBN 978-1-4249-6482-6 [HTML English version]


1. INTRODUCTION

The Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) undertook a study of registration practices of Ontario's regulated professions during the fall and winter of 2007–2008. The purpose of the study was to understand each regulated profession's 2007 registration practices and to establish baseline data and information to enable the OFC to measure progress as it fulfills its mandate under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006.

This report reflects the registration practices of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario as of December 31, 2007. Information in this report was gathered from:

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario also provided registration information and statistics for 2005, 2006 and 2007 through a standard spreadsheet designed by the OFC.

An analysis and summary of the findings for all of the regulated professions is contained in the OFC's Ontario’s Regulated Professions: Report on the 2007 Study of Registration Practices.

2. BACKGROUND OF THE REGULATORY BODY

a. Legislation

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO) operates in accordance with the Chartered Accountants Act,1956. The ICAO also operates in accordance with the Public Accounting Act, 2004 with regard to issuing public accounting licences.

b. Protected Titles

The ICAO regulates the designation “chartered accountant” and the initials CA, FCA, and ACA in Ontario.

c. Definition of the Profession

A chartered accountant in Ontario is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. Many chartered accountants are engaged in public accounting (an activity that lends credibility to financial statements); however, more than two-thirds hold positions in industry (as CEOs, CFOs, VPs Finance, etc.), government, academia or the not-for-profit sector.

d. Labour Market/Economic Trends

Accounting work is widely available in Ontario, and encompasses a broad range of skills from bookkeeping to auditing. Within the accounting job market there are many positions that require a CA designation, and usually there are more positions than individuals to fill them. The availability of student positions at CA firms fluctuates.

e. New Developments Within the Profession

A large number of CAs will retire within five years, which will have an impact on the size of the ICAO’s membership. However, a recent change to the registration requirements broadens the route to entry to practice by allowing applicants to qualify for membership by completing a period of prescribed accounting experience that does not have to include public accounting.

The demand for qualified accountants to do auditing and public accounting work outstrips the number of qualified accountants available to do the work. Due to a renewed focus on regulations, standards, reporting and disclosure, the demand for auditors has increased; as a result, student registration has increased in recent years.

If there is a downturn in the economy, the number of available accounting positions may diminish, adversely affecting the profession.

f. Staffing

Staff of the ICAO consists of approximately 120 full-time staff and six part-time staff. Roughly 25 staff members are involved in the registration process.

The institute is governed by a council of 20 people, of whom 16 are elected chartered accountants and four are public representatives, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

3. REGISTRATION PRACTICES

a. Registration Requirements and Application Process

i. Basic Requirements

Becoming a CA in Ontario requires:

ii. Student Registration

An applicant to the ICAO registers either as a “student” or as a “membership candidate.”

A student is an applicant who has not yet satisfied all of the requirements to obtain the CA designation. Applicants from Ontario and members of accounting bodies that are outside of Canada that have been categorized as non-recognized or non-assessed must register as students.

A membership candidate is an applicant who holds membership in a recognized accounting body outside Canada and is applying for membership under a reciprocity arrangement. All membership candidates must pass the CA Reciprocity Examination.

iii. Registration Process for Internationally Trained Individuals

Internationally trained accountants can begin the application for membership process from abroad. They are eligible to register in one of three general categories, depending on which accounting body they are associated with, either through current or previous membership. The category of registration determines what requirements applicants will need to fulfill to get the CA designation.

The three categories are:

The International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB) of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) has designated certain foreign accounting bodies as either “recognized” (meeting a standard substantially equivalent to that of Canadian CAs) or “non-recognized.”

Recognized Foreign Accounting Bodies

Applicants who are members of “recognized” accounting bodies and who have completed at least two years of public accounting experience that is acceptable to the Institute and was completed in the jurisdiction outside Canada, or that was recognized for credit by the recognized accounting body, are exempt from the usual education and qualifying examination requirements for the CA qualification program in Ontario, and are required to pass the CA Reciprocity Examination (CARE).

They must also have completed at least three years of accounting experience that is equivalent to the experience required of an entry-level CA in Ontario, in order to qualify for admission to membership following passing the CARE. The Institute assesses the applicant’s previously obtained accounting experience and determines whether he or she has acquired the necessary depth and breadth of competencies required as well as the appropriate level of proficiency.

Non-recognized Foreign Accounting Bodies

All members of the non-recognized accounting bodies are granted exemption from the university degree requirement; from 48 of the 51 prescribed university degree-credit hours (exemption from the one-course requirement in Canadian business law is not automatically granted to such applicants); and from the five-day Staff Training Program. The Applications Committee may, following assessment of previous education, professional qualifications and accounting experience, grant additional exemptions from any of the other education or examination requirements of the institute, except the Uniform Evaluation (UFE).

Requirements for Accountants from Non-assessed Accounting Bodies

Applicants who are members of accounting bodies that the IQAB has not yet assessed may be considered for exemptions from education and experience requirements once an assessment has been completed. If an exemption is not granted, the applicant must complete all the requirements of the Ontario program to qualify for membership in the institute. Individual assessments of an applicant’s qualifications can be requested. All applicants are required to complete all examinations including the UFE.

Requirements for Applicants Who Have University Education in Accounting But Are Not Members of an Accounting Body

This category of applicants is also considered for partial exemptions from the education requirements.

b. Documentation Required from Internationally Trained Persons

i. Standard Documentation

Internationally trained accountants applying for registration with the ICAO must provide:

ii. Options for Applicants with Unavailable/Destroyed Documents

A sworn affidavit will be accepted if transcripts are unavailable for reasons beyond the applicant’s control.

c. Credential Assessment (Third Party and/or Internal)

The International Qualifications Appraisal Board of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants assesses the standards of international accounting bodies and their equivalency to Canadian standards.

The ICAO will do an assessment of an accounting body if it has not been assessed by the IQAB. Applicants cannot be exempt from the national Uniform Evaluation (UFE), but other exemptions may be considered.

World Education Services authenticates degrees from outside Canada.

d. Academic/Program Requirements

The core academic requirement for qualification consists of a university degree that either includes or has been augmented by 51 credit hours of prescribed university credit courses, or by an ICAO-accredited university program/stream. Successful completion of these degree-credit courses ensures that the applicant has covered all the topics in the “CA Candidates' Competency Map.” Business degree programs at most Ontario universities offer all or most of the prescribed courses.

Students are encouraged to fulfill the credit-hour requirement as part of an integrated university degree program. When the prescribed courses are obtained through more than one university program, there is serious risk of duplication or omission of content. The prescribed courses may be completed on either a full-time or part-time basis before and during registration with the ICAO.

For those not enrolled in a co-operative degree or professional school of accounting program, the courses may be completed on a part-time basis after registration with the ICAO. Some non-business university degree courses may also qualify for ICAO credit. Students should contact the ICAO before registering in any non-business degree courses to find out whether the courses qualify for credit.

The 51-credit-hour requirement consists of 17 three-credit-hour courses approved by the ICAO. The specific areas covered are:

Subject area Credit hours
Financial accounting
(introductory, intermediate and advanced)
15
Cost and management accounting 6
Advanced accounting elective 3
Auditing 9
Taxation 6
Business information systems 3
Finance/financial management 3
Economics 3
Law 3
Total 51

Students completing their CA requirements through an ICAO-accredited university program/stream (see section 3.k) will complete the ICAO's 51-credit-hour requirement in the course of their studies.

e. Work Experience Requirements

The cornerstone of the ICAO’s prescribed practical experience requirement is that students be trained only in those offices approved by the institute as offering a sufficient amount and variety of appropriate experience to prepare them to practise as chartered accountants following their qualification for the CA designation.

Applicants must have a total of three years of accounting experience assessed by the institute as being equivalent to experience acquired by an entry-level chartered accountant in Ontario. The ICAO assesses an applicant’s previously obtained accounting experience and determines whether he or she has acquired the necessary depth and breadth of competencies and level of proficiency.

The competency requirements for CA qualification are grouped into six areas, each of which has its own specific competencies. The six competency areas are:

To meet the depth of competency development requirement, an applicant must demonstrate all of the specific competencies within one or the other of Performance Measurement and Reporting or Assurance.

To meet the breadth of competency development requirement, the applicant must demonstrate at least half (50 per cent) of the specific competencies in at least two of the five other competency areas.

f. Examinations

i. Chartered Accountant Reciprocity Examination (CARE)

The CARE is the means by which the provincial and territorial CA institutes measure the professional competence, in a Canadian context, of members of accounting bodies outside Canada assessed by the International Qualifications Appraisal Board as having education, examination and experience requirements substantially equivalent to the Canadian CA qualification program. The CARE examines candidates on their knowledge of Canadian accounting and assurance standards, the rules of professional conduct, Canadian taxation and Canadian business law.

The CARE consists of two three-hour papers written over two consecutive days. Day 1 of the CARE tests knowledge of accounting (approximately 50 marks) and assurance standards (approximately 50 marks). Day 2 tests knowledge of Canadian taxation (approximately 50 marks), rules of professional conduct/ethics (approximately 30 marks) and Canadian business law (approximately 20 marks).

ii. Core-Knowledge Examination (CKE)

The CKE is a four-hour, computer-scored examination containing approximately 100 multiple-choice questions. The questions are arranged by competency area. The midpoint of the range of marks allocated to each competency area is:

Performance Measurement and Reporting 25 per cent
Assurance 30 per cent
Taxation 15 per cent
Governance, Strategy and Risk Management 5 per cent
Management Decision Making 15 per cent
Finance 10 per cent

iii. School of Accountancy Examination

The SOA Examination, written at the conclusion of the three-week, full-time segment of the ICAO’s School of Accountancy, consists of multi-competency, case-type questions. It ensures that Ontario CA students have attained an acceptable level of professional skill and core competency to be eligible to write the UFE.

iv. National Uniform Evaluation (UFE)

The UFE is an internationally recognized three-part (four hours per part) national examination that applicants are eligible to write only after completion of or exemption from the School of Accountancy Program. All candidates write the same examination that tests proficiency in the CA competencies.

g. Language Requirements

There are no specified language proficiency requirements to become registered in the ICAO.

h. Fees

Fee

Student registration fee

$100

Student annual maintenance of registration fee

$250

Chartered Accountants Student Association of Ontario (CASAO) annual fee

$30

Assessment/Course Assessment (all courses attended at accredited universities outside Canada are assessed for this one-time fee)

$480

Membership Candidate registration processing fee

$100

Membership Candidate maintenance of registration fee (where period of registration is less than 4 years)

$250

Membership Candidate maintenance of registration fee (where period of registration is 4 years or more)

$500

Membership Candidate admission fee (after passing the CARE)

$1,000

Upon admission to membership after fulfilling the student requirements (admission fee)

$500

Initial Public Accounting licence application fee

$148.59

Annual renewal fee for public accountant's licence

$148.59

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO) annual membership fee

$455[2]

Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) annual membership fee

$425

Course and Examination Fees

School of Accountancy, including the Core-Knowledge Exam and the end-of-school exam

$1,350

Uniform Evaluation (UFE)

$1,150

Chartered Accountants Reciprocity Exam (CARE)

$800

Chartered Accountants Reciprocity Exam Preparation Course

$1,000

i. Third Parties

Name of Third Party Relationship to Regulatory Body

Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)

Sets final evaluation (qualification examination) in accordance with the CA Candidates’ Competency Map. Administers the International Qualifications Appraisal Board.

International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB)

Assesses the qualification requirements of accounting bodies outside of Canada.

World Education Services

Authenticates degrees from outside Canada.

j. Typical Length of the Registration Process

A straightforward application from an internationally trained applicant can take approximately six months to process. If there is difficulty obtaining documentation, the process may be longer. If there is an appeal of a registration decision the process may also take longer. If a hearing is required the entire process may take up to one year.

k. Accredited Programs

The following Ontario universities offer programs accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario:

l. Internal Review/Appeal Process

Students who believe that medical or other exceptional circumstances occurred during or close to the writing of an examination can petition the Applications Committee for the relief permitted in Regulation I. In a separate process, students can also request that an examination be re-marked.

Internationally trained applicants can appeal written decisions of the Applications Committee to the Appeal Committee. Internal assessments made by the ICAO can also be appealed to the Applications Committee.

The Appeal Committee is composed of CAs and public representatives who have had no involvement in the initial assessments or decisions. It is made up of 17 CAs and three public representatives who are not CAs, for a total of 20 members.

Hearings are conducted by panels composed of a minimum of three members of the committee. Normally there are five members on a panel, but the minimum quorum requirement is three members, with one CA acting as Chair and one public representative being present.

The Applications Committee is made up of 19 CAs, four public representatives who are not CAs, for a total of 23 members. (This number may increase in 2008, depending upon the number of volunteers available.) The same quorum and composition rules described above apply.

4. BRIDGING PROGRAMS

There are no formal bridging programs; however, exam preparation courses are available.

The ICAO is involved with the mentoring partnership of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), which was designed specifically for internationally trained individuals.

5. MUTUAL RECOGNITION AGREEMENTS

Accounting bodies that are deemed to be “recognized” by the International Qualifications Appraisal Board are also accepted by the ICAO. Bermuda and 12 Canadian jurisdictions are also recognized.

6. APPLICANTS’ INTERACTIONS WITH REGULATORY BODY

a. Nature and Frequency of Communication

Applicants can contact the ICAO by e-mail, letter and telephone. The frequency of contact varies, with more complex files requiring ongoing interaction.

b. Backlogs

Currently there is no backlog in the registration process.

c. Complaints Regarding the Registration Process

Complaints about the registration process are handled by the Director of Member and Student Records. If necessary, complaints are escalated to the Vice-President and Registrar.

7. CHANGES SINCE THE 2005 SURVEY

The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration conducted a survey in 2005 to collect information about occupational regulatory bodies in Ontario.

Since the 2005 survey, the ICAO has implemented a competency assessment model for the School of Accountancy Professional Program, the National Uniform Examination, and the practical experience requirement. Previously, 30 months of full-time experience in public accounting practice was required for registration. Currently, competency in six broad areas is required and three years of public accounting or other prescribed accounting experience is required.

8. REGISTRATION INFORMATION AND STATISTICS

Definitions used in these tables:

Alternative class of licence: a class of licence that enables its holder to practise with limitations; additional registration requirements must be met in order to be fully licensed. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario has no alternative classes of licence.

Applicant: an individual who has applied to start the process for entry to the profession.

Applicant actively pursuing licensing: an applicant who had some contact with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario within the year specified.

Inactive applicant: an applicant who had no contact with Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario within the year specified.

Member: an individual who is currently able to use the protected title or professional designation of “chartered accountant” and the initials CA, FCA and ACA in Ontario.

Languages in which application information materials are available
Language 2005 2006 2007
English

Yes

Yes

Yes

French

No

No

No

Other(s)

 

 

 

Countries where internationally educated applicants were initially trained in chartered accountancy
Applications received 2005 2006 2007
Largest number

United States

United States

United States

Second-largest number

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Third-largest number

India

India

South Africa

Fourth-largest number

South Africa

South Africa

Australia

Fifth-largest number

Mexico

Philippines

Ireland

Staff employed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario
Number of staff 2005 2006 2007
Involved in registration process

12

12

15

Involved in appeals process

4

4

4

Jurisdiction where members were initially trained in chartered accountancy (before they were granted use of the protected title or professional designation in Ontario)
Members Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International TOTAL
Total members

27,930

3,133

242

1,351

32,656

Non-practising members

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Applicants processed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in 2005

 

Jurisdiction where members were initially trained in chartered accountancy (before they were granted use of the protected title or professional designation in Ontario)
In 2005 (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International TOTAL
New applications received

1,229

81

55

68

1,433

Applicants actively pursuing licensing

1,229

81

55

68

1,433

Inactive applicants

0

0

0

0

0

Applicants who met all requirements and were authorized to become members but did not become members

0

0

0

0

0

Applicants who became members

679

82

17

34

812

Applicants who were authorized to receive an alternative class of licence but were not issued a licence

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Applicants who were issued an alternative class of licence

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Applicants processed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in 2006

 

Jurisdiction where members were initially trained in chartered accountancy (before they were granted use of the protected title or professional designation in Ontario)
In 2006 (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International TOTAL
New applications received

1,385

67

44

67

1,563

Applicants actively pursuing licensing

1,385

67

44

67

1,563

Inactive applicants

0

0

0

0

0

Applicants who met all requirements and were authorized to become members but did not become members

0

0

0

0

0

Applicants who became members

715

68

25

26

834

Applicants who were authorized to receive an alternative class of licence but were not issued a licence

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Applicants who were issued an alternative class of licence

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Applicants processed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in 2007

 

Jurisdiction where members were initially trained in chartered accountancy (before they were granted use of the protected title or professional designation in Ontario)
In 2007 (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International TOTAL
New applications received

1,537

60

42

56

1,695

Applicants actively pursuing licensing

1,537

60

42

56

1,695

Inactive applicants

0

0

0

0

0

Applicants who met all requirements and were authorized to become members but did not become members

0

0

0

0

0

Applicants who became members

779

60

30

34

903

Applicants who were authorized to receive an alternative class of licence but were not issued a licence

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Applicants who were issued an alternative class of licence

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

9. SOURCES

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario website. http://www.icao.on.ca

Representatives of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario met with staff of the Office of the Fairness Commissioner on January 8, 2008, to provide further information for this study.



1Students are required to complete the Staff Training Program within 12 months of the date of their registration with the Institute or be exempted by virtue of having completed an approved in-firm/in-office equivalent. The objective of this program is to familiarize students with the performance of audit and non-audit engagements, the operation of a public accounting office, and the rules and regulations governing the practice of public accountancy in Ontario. Ideally this course should be taken after completing at least an introductory audit course and prior to writing the Core-Knowledge Examination.

2This fee will change as of March 1, 2008.