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Professional development skills

From 01 September 2017 onwards, we will introduce updated professional skills.

New ACA students who start their ACA training agreement from 01 September 2017 onwards will automatically follow the new professional skills (unless they work for an employer that has an ‘accredited’ professional development and appraisal system in which case they continue to use their employer’s accredited system). Employers with students part-way through their ACA studies will need to decide if they transfer their students to the new skills, and advise us accordingly at applications@icaew.com.

The way that we assess professional skills is not changing.


The seven goals

The seven professional skills goals are displayed in this diagram.

We have updated these professional skills and shown how they link to the following five themes that will be key for the future professional:

  1. Adaptability
  2. Insight
  3. Collaboration
  4. Perspective
  5. Learning and reflection

Each skill is referenced to one of these themes, as shown in the tables below. Alternatively, you can download a pdf version of these tables.

Watch our short 15-minute webinar for more information including definitions of the various goals and examples of how the five themes can be demonstrated within each of the seven skill goals.

These seven goals each have 6-8 skills areas within them as defined below, with examples of how they can be evidenced.

Ethics and professionalism

Goal: The ability to behave ethically and sustainably whilst respecting others in order to uphold the values of the organisation and the accountancy profession.

No. How were you able to... Guidance on specific examples Theme
8 demonstrate professional behaviour? You acted as an ambassador for ICAEW and promoted ethical behaviour within your organisation at all times. You were resilient in maintaining your professionalism in challenging circumstances. Adaptability
7 show objectivity? You took a fair and balanced approach to achieve an organisational objective. You recognised threats to objectivity and independence. Perspective
6 show self-awareness? You recognised the impact of emotions on you and on others and adapted your behaviour accordingly. Learning/reflection
5 demonstrate professional competence and due care? You maintained an awareness of developments in the accountancy profession. You recognised when to ask for assistance or to report issues upwards. Learning/reflection
4 value diversity? You valued different perspectives, respected individual differences and supported fair treatment and equal opportunities for all. Collaboration
3 demonstrate sustainability? You identified the impact of your actions on the environment and looked for ways to conserve resources and energy. You were socially responsible in supporting the community in which you live and work. Perspective
2 observe confidentiality? You respected and maintained confidentiality in your dealings with others. You acted with sensitivity in situations when maintaining confidentiality would be in breach of the public or organisational interest. Perspective
1 demonstrate integrity? You behaved truthfully, honestly, and in the public interest. You took responsibility for your own actions and your own development. Collaboration


Goal: The ability to communicate effectively at all levels, using oral, written and presentational skills, in order to achieve positive outcomes.

No. How were you able to... Guidance on specific examples Theme
7 challenge upwards? You questioned the views of senior colleagues in a way that enabled your position to be heard and understood. Collaboration
6 negotiate? You negotiated with a colleague, senior or client or other stakeholder, clearly and fairly, to get an agreement that was acceptable to all parties involved. Collaboration, Perspective
5 present to a group? You presented information in a group situation in a way which was clear, fluent and held the audience’s attention, to achieve your desired objective. Collaboration
4 manage conflict? You showed tact and diplomacy in handling a disagreement or communicating an adverse or unwelcome decision. Collaboration
3 influence? You adapted your behaviour, style, approach and means of communication to another person to gain their commitment or agreement to a course of action. You persuaded another person to change their point of view, asserting your own position, whilst showing an understanding of theirs. Collaboration
2 communicate in writing? You produced an email, letter or report that was clear, logical and well-structured and met the needs of your intended audience. Collaboration
1 listen effectively? You paid attention to what other people were saying and showed attentive body language. You kept an open mind when listening to others’ perspectives and showed empathy. Collaboration


Goal: The ability to work collaboratively as a member or leader of a team in order to achieve shared goals.

No. How were you able to... Guidance on specific examples Theme
8 manage a team? You planned, managed and controlled a team to deliver a project that met performance objectives and standards within time and budgetary constraints. Collaboration, Perspective
7 allocate tasks and resources? You assigned tasks and available resources to achieve task objectives within agreed deadlines. Collaboration
6 develop others? You identified others’ development needs and shared your knowledge and experience to help them. You supported a colleague or client to think creatively and / or acted informally in mentoring, coaching and training others. Collaboration
5 show empathy? Guidance on specific examples: You were sensitive to the feelings and emotions of others in the team and managed the situation accordingly. Collaboration
4 deliver tasks under pressure? You monitored and managed workload and resources to contribute to team objectives. You stayed calm under pressure. Adaptability
3 value diverse perspectives? You were open-minded to input, feedback and suggestions from different people, including those whose views were different from yours. Collaboration
2 collaborate with others? You motivated others by recognising individual team members’ achievements. You encouraged and promoted teamwork to achieve shared goals. You shared knowledge and insight to achieve team goals. Collaboration
1 ask for help? You knew when to ask for help and where to find it. You used opportunities to learn from others. Learning/reflection

Decision making

Goal: The ability to gather, interpret and evaluate data in order to make effective decisions.

No. How were you able to... Guidance on specific examples Theme
7 decide between competing outcomes? You applied independent thought, reasoning and judgement based on evidence, professional experience, technical knowledge and consideration of alternatives to make insightful decisions within a realistic timeframe. Insight, Perspective, Learning/reflection
6 apply professional scepticism? You used a questioning mind to identify when information was biased, arguments were flawed, contradictions existed between different pieces of information, or assumptions were not justified. Insight
5 evaluate risk? You identified and evaluated potential risks arising from your conclusions, including broader commercial considerations such as costs and benefits. You made an informed decision despite uncertainty. Perspective
4 justify conclusions? You were able to justify your conclusions from evidence when faced with questions or resistance from others. Insight
3 draw conclusions? You drew conclusions based on relevant data. Insight
2 organise data? You used appropriate tools, such as spreadsheets, databases, or data analytics, to organise data to make it understandable. Insight
1 gather relevant data? You clarified a need from another person to have relevant data and gathered appropriate data to help them to make a decision. You understood the context in which a decision was being made. Collaboration, Insight

Problem solving

Goal: The ability to analyse a problem, generate options and make recommendations in order to arrive at appropriate solution.

No. How were you able to... Guidance on specific examples Theme
8 implement a solution? You developed recommendations to solve a complex problem and took them through to agreement and implementation. You showed resilience and creativity and deployed resources effectively when the project did not develop as planned. Perspective, Adaptability
7 make useful recommendations? You applied your technical knowledge, professional experience, evidence and analysis to support recommendations that took into account the position of other parties involved. You identified the best solution given the existing constraints. Insight, Learning/ reflection
6 consider different perspectives? You sought insight and input from an appropriately diverse range of stakeholders and perspectives when formulating recommendations. You drew on input from your professional network to support this. Collaboration
5 think creatively? You used techniques, such as brainstorming and lateral thinking, to generate options and found a creative solution to a problem. Insight
4 prioritise? You evaluated and prioritised what was important, focussing on key issues and outputs. Adaptability
3 evaluate different options? You used analytical techniques to evaluate options and rank potential solutions, identifying associated risk and uncertainty. You showed adaptability in the face of change. Insight
2 identify a problem? You defined a problem by asking questions to clarify the nature of the problem and the business impact. You gathered information to enable you to analyse the problem. Insight
1 support others to solve problems? You shared your practical experience with others to help them when solving problems. You learned through practical experience of a problem. Collaboration

Adding value

Goal: The ability to add value to the organisation, team or role in order to achieve objectives.

No. How were you able to... Guidance on specific examples Theme
8 lead by example? You achieved an outstanding outcome by inspiring and acting as a role model for others to follow. Collaboration
7 anticipate and see opportunity in change? You anticipated changing circumstances and identified an opportunity to add value as a result of the change. You assisted more reluctant colleagues to embrace change. Adaptability
6 improve financial performance? You took the initiative to identify a way to improve performance, for example: improve a process, save money, generate revenue or grow the business. Insight
5 deliver excellent customer service? You improved the service you provide to your customers or stakeholders, internally or externally. You built a rapport with customers or stakeholders to better understand their needs and tailor your service accordingly. Collaboration, Perspective
4 continue learning? You reflected on your own performance and identified ways in which you could improve. You developed specific skills or knowledge that enabled you to add value to your organisation, team or role. Learning/reflection
3 exceed expectations? You used your initiative to achieve something more than was expected. You were open-minded and adaptable in finding a new or better way of doing something that added value to your organisation, team or role. Adaptability
2 show resilience? You overcame obstacles and setbacks to deliver and continued to perform effectively when faced with pressure or adversity. Adaptability
1 work flexibly? You responded flexibly to changing circumstances without losing your efficiency and focus, using your initiative to get the job done and complete multiple tasks on time. Adaptability

Technical competence

Goal: The ability to seek, learn and use technology and technical information in order to support the achievement of organisation or team goals.

No. How were you able to... Guidance on specific examples Theme
6 support technological change? You understood the potential for technology to improve systems and / or working practices, and identified an area where technological innovation could improve performance. Adaptability
5 treat a complex technical issue correctly? You applied technical knowledge from a range of sources to resolve a complex technical problem whilst retaining an awareness of the business environment. Perspective, Learning/reflection
4 use technology to improve your effectiveness? You used technology to improve speed, accuracy, presentation and overall effectiveness in your role through use of more sophisticated technology or more advanced functionality. Learning/reflection
3 identify a technical issue? You identified a technical issue in a work assignment and used your technical knowledge to resolve it. Insight, Learning/ reflection
2 use technology appropriately? You employed an appropriate technological solution to a practical work situation, such as using a relevant office software package, data analytics application, or accounting programme. Insight
1 relate study to work? You related technical knowledge from professional study to practical work situations. ;Learning/reflection

How does this compare to the current professional ladders?