Public Practice – a Flexible and Challenging Career Option
If the flexibility and challenge of public practice appeals to you it may be worth considering and planning for the steps that you will need to take once you qualify as a CPA member.
CPA members in public practice work at the coalface of Irish business, assisting businesses as they face the challenges of Brexit, the digitalisation of the taxation system and increasingly the advance of technology in business. A career in public practice can be an exciting one and new opportunities are opening up with the advancement of technology which is providing for the automation of more traditional compliance services and enabling accountants to provide more proactive solutions for clients.
A CPA member who wishes to engage in public practice, providing services such as accounting, tax planning, management consultancy services and audit must hold a practising certificate. This ensures that CPA members providing services to the public do so to the highest standards and are appropriately and proportionately regulated.
Pathway to public practice
To engage in public practice it is necessary to apply for a practising certificate. This can only be done post admission to membership of CPA Ireland. But if it is something that you may be interested in for the future, it may be worth planning your pathway now while you are studying.
To be eligible for a practising certificate, you must have two years of post-admission to membership experience that is relevant to the services that you wish to provide the public with. This experience must be supervised by a qualified accountant. As you plan your career path it may be worthwhile to also plan for this requirement if you intend going into practice in the future.
The following requirements must also be met to be granted a practising certificate;
- Complete CPA’s Advanced Taxation examination at Professional 2 level (Advanced Tax Strategy at the Strategic Level on the new syllabus) in accordance with Bye Law 12 and the Institute Examination Regulations or deemed equivalent examinations of a Recognised Accountancy Body in Ireland.
- Have met the relevant CPD requirements for the previous two years before application;
- Have completed within the previous 36 months the Practice Orientation Online Certificate and has passed the associated online assessment.
Additional eligibility criteria apply to applicants for practising certificates who also wish to become statutory auditors. These criteria are set by the Companies Act 2014 and CPA’s Bye Law 13, Practice and Audit Regulations.
There are additional training requirements and additional educational requirements that apply if you wish to become a statutory auditor in the future. The examination exemptions initially granted to you may impact on your eligibility to become a statutory auditor in the future.
Bye Law 13 is currently being revised in this area. Further details of the changes in this area will be available shortly.
Students intending to apply for a practising certificate with audit qualification must complete the Audit Practice & Assurance Services examination at Professional 2 level (Advanced Audit & Assurance at the Strategic Level on the new syllabus)
in accordance with Bye Law 12 and the Institute Examination Regulations or deemed equivalent examinations of a Recognised Accountancy Body in Ireland.
Students intending to apply for a practising certificate with audit qualification may elect to use up to one year of their pre-qualification experience to support their application. In such cases, their experience during this year should cover the activities essential for public practice. These are marked with an asterisk in the training requirements
. This training must be in public practice under the supervision of a registered auditor. (In addition, such students will be required to undergo two further years relevant post-qualification training in public practice before applying for a practising certificate.)
Practising Without a Practising Certificate
A CPA member who provides public practice services without a practising certificate may find that they are in breach of the CPA Bye Laws which may result in regulatory action.
It is essential that the meaning of public practice
is considered and understood.
It is important to note that upon admission to membership of CPA Ireland an individual is not eligible for a practising certificate for a minimum of a further two years. Members cannot practice during this period without a practising certificate.
There are certain services that can be provided by a member without the need to hold a practising certificate, such as book-keeping and payroll. However such services should be carefully managed to ensure that they are not considered to be public practice
Anti-Money Laundering Requirements
The providers of book-keeping services are considered to be “designated persons
” under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 to 2018.
Qualified CPA members are supervised for anti-money laundering purposes by CPA Ireland. Those individuals who provide book-keeping services but are not members of CPA Ireland or another accountancy body must register with the Anti Money Laundering Compliance Unit
in the Department of Justice and Equality.
Further details on the practising certificate application process can be found here