Member | Established: 1980 | Member since 2012; Associate since 1988
AAT, established in 1980, is a voluntary membership organization that offers skills-based (vocational) accountancy and finance qualifications. AAT’s qualifications are regulated by all four United Kingdom qualification regulators, including Ofqual (England), CCEA (Northern Ireland), SQA Accreditation (Scotland), and Qualifications Wales. AAT is also a recognised End Point Assessment Organisation for the purposes of providing End Point Assessment for apprenticeships in accounting. AAT regulates its members and ensures that they comply with ethical requirements and is responsible for the investigation and discipline of its members. AAT is a professional body supervisor for the purposes of Anti-Money Laundering.
Statements of Membership Obligation (SMO)
The Statements of Membership Obligations form the basis of the IFAC Member Compliance Program. They serve as a framework for credible and high-quality professional accountancy organizations focused on serving the public interest by adopting, or otherwise incorporating, and supporting implementation of international standards and maintaining adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure the professional behavior of their individual members.
SMO 1: Quality Assurance
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and the four Recognized Supervisory Bodies (RSBs) in the UK (ACCA, CAI, ICAEW, and ICAS) share responsibility for the quality assurance (QA) review system governing audits and assurance engagements in accordance with the Companies Act of 2006 and the Statutory Auditors and Third Party Auditors Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/649)). All have indicated that they have a fully operational QA review system in place, and that the QA review systems are compliant with SMO 1 requirements.
AAT’s status as a recognized supervisory authority under the terms of the UK’s Money Laundering Regulations (MLR) 2017 means that AAT supervises its members for the purposes of compliance with the MLR, which incorporates the provisions of the European Money Laundering Directive. To support its members, AAT develops guidelines and licensing regulation in line with the best practice needs of accounting technicians. In 2019, AAT reported that it further developed the licensing regulations (available on the website) and supporting policy framework to reflect AAT’s evolving licensing and QA activity. Members of AAT are encouraged to participate in anti-money laundering events and are provided with online resources to increase knowledge and awareness.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
The six Recognised Qualifying Bodies (RQBs) deliver the initial and continuing professional education (IPD and CPD) for statutory auditors in the UK. The FRC has an agreement with the six chartered bodies (ACCA, the Association—CIMA, CIPFA, ICAEW, CAI, and ICAS) and the AIA to oversee IPD and CPD for accountants.
Five RQBs (ACCA, CAI, ICAEW, ICAS, and CIPFA) as well as AAT, the Association—CIMA and IFA are members of IFAC and all confirm that their professional accountancy qualifications meet the IAESB’s requirements set out in the revised 2015 IES.
AAT has implemented a process to continuously improve and develop its education and certification requirements to best meet the needs of accounting technicians in the UK. It offers qualifications for accounting, bookkeeping, and finance, with requirements for each detailed on the AAT website. AAT qualifications are regulated by the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual) in England, Northern Ireland and internationally; the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) in Scotland; and Qualifications Wales in Wales. AAT’s qualifications are also formally recognized in Botswana by the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA).
AAT Accounting Qualifications offer progression from entry level accounting basics up to specialist financial knowledge for managerial roles. When students complete the Professional Diploma in Accounting, they can proceed to pursue the chartered accountancy qualification, which enables them to offer financial advice, audit records, manage finance systems and budgets. All AAT members must complete CPD requirements which are in line with the revised IES. As part of its CPD program, AAT offers an annual two-day conference that focuses on major issues impacting the profession. Members are provided with access to a CPD interactive hub, tests, podcasts, blogs, videos, webinars, articles, and forums.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is the authorized body for setting auditing standards in the UK in accordance with the Companies Act of 2006 and Statutory Instrument on Statutory Auditors (Amendment of Companies Act 2006 and Delegation of Functions etc.) Order 2012 (SI 2012/1741). All financial statement audits must be conducted in accordance with International Standards on Auditing (UK) issued by the FRC. ISAs (UK) are based on ISAs issued by the IAASB, with specific changes to account for UK Company law.
AAT members who offer accountancy and taxation services in the UK are not eligible to sign off on audits. They can become eligible by pursuing further professional accounting qualifications with a body listed with the UK Public Oversight Board for Accountancy or outside the UK.
Licensed AAT members in practice may prepare and submit the financial statements of limited companies that are defined as small under the Companies Act. AAT members in practice may also be licensed to undertake limited assurance engagements for companies that fall below the UK’s audit threshold. The AAT monitors International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board pronouncements and disseminates any matters relevant to its members.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
In accordance with their charters and by-laws, professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) in the UK are authorized to establish ethical requirements for their members.
All PAOs in the UK indicate that they have adopted the requirements of the IESBA Code of Ethics (2018 version). Furthermore, all PAOs indicate that they have an ongoing process to consider and incorporate new and amended requirements issued by the IESBA where they are not in conflict with national laws and regulations.
As of 2019, AAT reports that the AAT Code of Ethics is published on their website for public access. AAT reportedly maintains ongoing processes to review the Code issued by IESBA to ensure that new and revised standards are incorporated into its Code.
AAT reports that it collaborated with UK bodies such as the ACCA, ICAEW, and ICAS to publish the Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) which came into effect on March 1, 2017.
AAT’s comprehensive communications efforts to make members aware of the Code of Professional Ethics and its implications includes the use of the Accounting Technician magazine; illustrative interactive case studies on the AAT Ethics website; and a series of seminars on professional ethics delivered through the AAT’s regional branch network. Updates are shared with members via newsletters, and ethics are included as part of the professional qualification syllabus. In December 2017, AAT launched an online interactive Code of Professional Ethics to provide its members with more guidance as they address their ethical dilemmas.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
The UK Treasury is responsible for developing standards and policies for Central Government financial statements. The Chartered Institute of Public Accountancy (CIPFA) and the Local Authority Scotland Accounts Advisory Committee (LASAAC) work together on the Local Authority Code Board, a standing committee of CIPFA and LASAAC, to set accounting standards for local governments in the UK. The Code of Practice is based on EU-adopted IFRS, and draws on IPSAS and Financial Reporting Standards issued by the Financial Reporting Council.
AAT continually monitors IPSASB pronouncements and informs its members about any matters of relevance via AAT’s communication channels. AAT members working in the public sector would not be undertaking responsibilities at the level covered by IPSAS without acquiring higher professional qualifications.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
In accordance with their respective charters and by-laws, professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) are authorized to establish systems of investigation and discipline (I&D) for their members for failure to comply with applicable standards of professional conduct. The PAOs (both RSBs and others: AAT, the Association—CIMA, CIPFA, and IFA) have reported that they have I&D systems in place that fulfill the requirements of SMO 6 requirements. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has an agreement with The Association—CIMA to oversee its I&D system for accountants.
AAT members and registered students must adhere to the institute’s disciplinary processes and tribunals which are published on the website. AAT's Investigations Team investigates complaints received in accordance with the Professional Standards Handbook. The Disciplinary Tribunal may impose sanctions unless there are cogent reasons. Sanctions include a (i) reprimand; (ii) warning; (ii) fine (set by the Council), (iii) withdrawal of a practicing license; (iv) suspension; (v) expulsion; (vi) debarment from taking AAT’s assessments for a period as shall be determined (students only). AAT continually reviews its Disciplinary Regulations to ensure that they remain fit for purpose. The AAT’s Disciplinary Guidelines and Regulations were last revised in 2018 and the revised regulations were fully implemented in June 2018.
Lastly, AAT has processes in place to review the SMO 6 requirements on an ongoing basis to ensure that its I&D system remains fully aligned. These processes are designed to maintain the SMO fulfillment level and address new developments as appropriate.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has the authority to adopt accounting standards in the UK in accordance with the Companies Act of 2006 and Statutory Instrument on Statutory Auditors (Amendment of Companies Act 2006 and Delegation of Functions etc.) Order 2012 (SI 2012/1741).
EU-endorsed IFRS are required to be applied in consolidated financial statements of parent companies with securities that are traded on a regulated market. Other entities apply ‘reduced disclosure’ EU adopted IFRS, or simpler Financial Reporting Standards (FRS) developed by the FRC, depending on the size, type of company, and the nature of activities that is conducted. FRS is based on the IFRS for SMEs, with significant modifications.
While AAT has no direct responsibility for adoption, it supports its members with implementation of FRS. AAT offers continuing professional development (CPD) programs to increase members’ understanding of new and revised standards and its impacts on their businesses. The institute also provides its members with information about the activities of the IASB through its conferences, seminars, webinars, newsletters, and its website.
AAT participates in the international standard setting process by providing comments on International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) Exposure Drafts and consultations. In addition, the AAT provides comments to the UK’s FRC when relevant to accounting technicians, and the AAT has advocated that the UK’s FRS for Smaller Entities be replaced by IFRS for small- and medium-sized entities.
IFAC bears no responsibility for the information provided in the SMO Action Plans prepared by IFAC member organizations. Please see our full Disclaimer for additional information.
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