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Practice Assurance guidance for larger firms

Standard 3: Competence

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A firm should ensure that all principals, staff and subcontractors are competent to carry out their work regulations, standards and guidance.


Much of the guidance we have issued to sole practitioners and smaller firms also applies to larger firms. You can access that guidance here

Most larger firms have comprehensive training programmes. Our guidance in this area relates to how larger firms:

  • plan, monitor and document CPD;
  • induct their experienced hires; and
  • appraise the competence of their people.

Top tips to help you comply


  • Give guidance to principals and staff on the training the firm expects them to carry out dependent on their role/grade.
  • Make use of the courses the ICAEW Academy of Professional Development offers. View its catalogue here. It offers development courses such as Developing Leaders in Practice as well as individual mentoring and coaching.
  • Make use of the many courses and webinars we deliver. The latest CPD courses can be found here.
  • Join one of our communities.
  • Did you know CABA runs personal development and wellbeing workshops that can be tailored to the needs of your firm as well as courses that are free to individual ICAEW members?
  • Have a mechanism for principals and staff to confirm they have attended/viewed a course so that you can monitor attendance.

Experienced hire induction

  • Use a buddy system for new recruits to help them integrate into the firm.
  • Get principals and staff who are involved in leadership and compliance to attend and present at induction sessions to emphasise the importance of the firm’s culture.


  • Train appraisers in the appraisal process and moderate appraisals.
  • Incorporate training and development needs into the appraisal process.

Best practice


  • Mandate attendance/viewing of certain courses depending on principal/staff’s role/grade.
  • Include soft skills and developmental skills in the suite of training on offer.
  • Consider training (reflect/act/impact) as part of the appraisal process.
  • Accredit principals/fee earners for certain types of specialist work dependent on experience and training.

Experienced hire induction

  • Develop an induction programme for experienced hires.
  • Don’t forget to include the ICAEW Code of Ethics training in the programme (not just audit ethical standards).
  • Make sure new hires know what to do if they receive a complaint or there are signs of dissatisfaction from a client.
  • Provide the experienced hire with induction reading, which should include your firm’s policies and procedures.


  • Have a formal appraisal system in place.
  • Ensure appraisals are clearly linked to training and development.
  • Link appraisals to a competency framework.