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Professional skills in the ACA

To ensure the ongoing relevance of the qualification and ACA training in today's changing commercial landscape, we have recently undertaken consultations and research to identify which professional skills are needed for the future chartered accountant.

The commercial environment in which ICAEW ACA students train is changing. There is less routine and compliance work. This is due to regulatory changes including audit exemption increases and digitisation of tax, and technological changes including data analytics and cloud accounting.

As routine and compliance work reduces, there is a greater focus on the development of skills which equip professionals to work with the outputs of automated processes, with other specialists, and in a changing world. These skills include analysis, interpretation, professional scepticism, communication, collaboration, adaptability, resilience, and commerciality.

The review - consultation / research

By involving a range of key internal and external stakeholders around the world, and from organisations of all sizes and in different sectors, we have been able to review the professional skills developed in the ACA to ensure students maintain the necessary high performance skills to keep them at the forefront of their profession, today, tomorrow and into the future.

The research confirmed that our current professional skills development is robust and that the depth and breadth of skills assessed in the ACA is comprehensive and remains relevant and highly prized. The learning and development of professional skills is embedded throughout the ACA qualification and ACA training, and begins from day one of a training agreement. Students develop their professional skills in the exams, through professional development in the workplace and through the ethics and professional scepticism element of the ACA.

The research also identified five over-arching themes that exist already within the qualification and which will be key for the future professional.

The five themes

The five over-arching themes which were identified during the research are described below:

  1. Adaptability – the ability to recognise that business is in a constant state of change and evolution, to be curious about this, and to be flexible and adjust thinking, approach or methods as required.
  2. Insight – the ability to analyse and interpret data and think critically to provide commercial insight.
  3. Collaboration – the ability to partner and consider diverse perspectives to create successful outcomes while being accountable for self.
  4. Perspective – the ability to take a holistic view of business issues and decisions, considering external stakeholder interests and enterprise-wide implications.
  5. Learning and reflection – the ability to reflect on experience, learn and change to be more efficient and effective. 

Exam skills grids

Students will also continue to develop skills as they progress through the ACA exams.

The exam skills grids will still be structured under the same four headings as previously, and skills will still be developed progressively throughout professional and advanced level exams.

Have a question?

If you have a question on how skills are changing this year, please do not hesitate to contact us:

T +44 (0)1908 248 250
E studentsupport@icaew.com