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student insights

10 things you didn’t know about ICAEW

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 31 Jul 2023

ICAEW logo crest Institute of Chartered Accountants hall building sculpture London

When you qualify as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, you become part of a very special heritage. We explore what being a member of the Institute means.

For more than 140 years, ICAEW has been leading the accountancy profession. But it’s more than a professional institute: ICAEW is a source of pride and inspiration to many. And once you become part of the membership, you are part of its rich history. Here are 10 facts you may not know about ICAEW.

Queen Victoria Royal Charter Accountants sculpture statue ICAEW

1. It was created by Royalty and the current monarch is an honorary member

Queen Victoria signed the Royal Charter establishing ICAEW on 11 May 1880, which outlined its role to ensure that accountants act responsibly and in the best interests of the general public. Accountants needed to provide reliable information to markets, giving people trust in the businesses they were investing in. That is truer than ever today. For his work on Accounting for Sustainability, King Charles III is an honorary member.

2. The Royal Charter informs everything ICAEW does

The Royal Charter outlines that ICAEW must develop and support members, and support and grow future members with world class services and resources. The Institute is also duty-bound to work in the public interest. That means sharing insight with governments, regulators and business leaders worldwide, and regulating individuals and firms to ensure they maintain the highest professional standards.

ICAEW Presidents sign gold plaque membership benefits

3. Early presidents’ presence is felt strongly in accountancy today

You might recognise the names of some of ICAEW’s earliest presidents. The third person to hold the role was Arthur Cooper – from 1883 to 1884 – and his brother Ernest served from 1899 to 1901. Edwin Waterhouse served two terms from 1892 to 1894. The other Big Four accounting firms are also represented in ICAEW’s presidential history. Frederick Whinney – one of EY’s founders – had a four-year term of office between 1884 and 1888. William Deloitte served from 1888 to 1899. And one of KPMG’s founders, William Barclay Peat, had two stints as president, from 1906 to 1908. ICAEW has been at the heart of shaping the profession – and bringing members together to share their expertise – for more than a century.

4. Membership has increased 100-fold

At the time of ICAEW’s creation, there were fewer than 600 members from local associations in Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield. This had grown to almost 1,700 in 1890 when the construction of ICAEW’s head office in London, Chartered Accountants’ Hall, began. Today, ICAEW has offices around the world, including Brussels, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, and the number of members is approaching 170,000 across 146 countries. Joining ICAEW as a member will bring you closer to this community of trusted professionals and the long history they represent.

ICAEW flag logo Institute of Chartered Accountants hall London office building

5. ICAEW’s logo embodies the values of being a Chartered Accountant

A picture says a thousand words. And ICAEW’s logo and coat of arms, Economia, represents all the values and virtues of being a Chartered Accountant. Economia, who has also been present since 1880, is shown with a rod in her right hand, signifying authority; dividers in her left hand, depicting accurate measurement; and with a ship’s rudder behind her, indicating guidance and good steering. It’s a reflection of the values at the heart of the profession: wisdom, truth, accuracy, good guidance and measurement. You will see Economia on your learning materials, exam materials, any e-newsletters you receive from ICAEW, and more. It epitomises what accountants stand for and the community you will be a part of.

6. Chartered Accountants’ Hall reflects these virtues inside and out

ICAEW’s head office in London, which was completed in 1893, is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Victorian Baroque architecture – drawing its inspiration from the Italian Renaissance. At the time, this was quite a controversial move away from the traditional Victorian style of the area and period. It is a Grade II listed building, meaning it is recognised for its architectural and sculptural interest, interior quality and survival, constructional innovation and contextual architecture. Throughout the building, you'll see the figure of Economia as well as artwork, sculptures and stained-glass windows representing the values of the profession.

7. As a student and member, you get to use Chartered Accountants’ Hall

Whether you want to study, work or network, Chartered  Accountants’ Hall is yours to use now and in the future. Having such a historically important building at the heart of your Institute makes it a great place to meet. There is a free business centre and café as well as ICAEW’s specialist library, offering access to current and historical accounting, auditing, tax and business books. ICAEW is also the custodian of over 3,000 archived rare books on accounting that span six centuries, preserving the long history of the profession.

8. Membership and the ACA designation bring fresh opportunities

Becoming a member of ICAEW means you can use ACA after your name. This internationally-recognised designation tells people you have achieved the gold standard of the profession. ICAEW membership and the ACA designation can bring job opportunities and increase your professional network. Becoming a member and interacting with the Institute will open up doors in your career.

9. ICAEW will support you throughout your career

Whether you are looking for a job, needing professional guidance, or help with Continuing Professional Development, ICAEW will assist you at every step. You can get confidential advice from the Support Members Scheme. Local societies will keep you informed of news and events in your region. Faculties offer up-to-date developments and guidance in many fields. And ICAEW’s communities provide information, insights, guidance and networking opportunities across a range of sectors and specialisms.  

10. And ICAEW can support your loved ones, too

caba – Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association – helps ACA students, past and present ICAEW members, close family dependents and ICAEW staff. From emotional support, debt advice, health and career support to finance assistance and career coaching, caba can assist you throughout your student and member journey. Caba has many resources to support members, whether they work in practice, own their own business, are taking a career break, or having financial issues, throughout different stages of their lives and careers.

Whatever stage you are in your chartered accountancy career, being a member of ICAEW means being a part of force for positive change, with a rich, and very special, heritage. Members are trusted and ethical professionals that deliver the highest level of competency, as they have done for more than 140 years. ICAEW looks forward to welcoming you as a member in the future. 


Learn more key facts about ICAEW.

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