Institute of Chartered Accountants (Ghana)
Member | Established: 1963 | Member since 1982
ICAG (Ghana) is the professional accounting body charged with the regulation of accountancy profession in Ghana. Its members work in various sectors of the Ghanaian economy, including public services, accountancy firms, industry, and education as well as other public and private sector organizations where funds need to be effectively and efficiently managed. Many of ICAG’s members work in other jurisdictions with national and international organizations. Given that its members are the only people recognized under the Companies Code 1963 for the purpose of publicly practicing accounting in Ghana, ICAG’s professional qualification is the foundation for a career in accounting in Ghana.
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
With direct responsibility for quality assurance (QA) reviews in Ghana, ICAG developed a Quality Assurance Monitoring (QAM) system that is managed by an Audit Quality Monitoring (AQM) Department. Subsequently, ICAG signed a twinning agreement with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales to receive support in training its QA reviewers. While this agreement ended in September 2018, ICAG indicates that it has built up the capacity of reviewers and practitioners extensively over the last two years and seeking funding to further extend the partnership. ICAG has conducted full monitoring visits at 237 firms, 282 initial assessments, and 5 special engagement reviews of bank auditors all utilizing procedures that the institute states are in line with the SMO 1 requirements. As of 2019, the reviews are still conducted in the learning stage with the next round of inspections carrying possible sanctions for any non-compliance.
ICAG continues its ongoing efforts to raise awareness and educate its members about QA reviews and compliance with ISQC 1. ICAG assists members to improve audit quality using the results of the practice reviews for CPD programming and offers training on the QA review procedures. Additionally, ICAG collaborated with PriceWaterHouseCoopers to produce a QA Review Manual, and includes courses on inspection procedures and ISQC 1 in its continuing professional development programs.
The 2014 World Bank ROSC recommended that ICAG consider further support for small and medium practices (SMPs), which face greater challenges in complying with ISQC 1 and ISA. The institute subsequently provided SMPs with a workshop on ISQC 1, illustrative templates, and quality control guides. Furthermore, in 2016, ICAG undertook research aimed at collecting more information and to allow for deeper insights into the activities and challenges facing SMPs in Ghana and how best those challenges can be addressed. The report was launched in 2017 and the institute reports to be working on a strategy in order implement solutions.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
ICAG is responsible for setting the educational requirements for professional accountants in Ghana, which include completing a program of professional accountancy education, having three years of practical experience, and passing ICAG’s final examinations. ICAG works to ensure that programs are line with the IES requirements by continuously reviewing its curricula against new and revised IES. With the support of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales under the DFID-funded IFAC Capacity Building Program, ICAG has taken significant steps to improve the accountancy education system in Ghana.
The objective of the project is to bring Ghana’s professional accountancy education, training, and qualification in-line with the IES as demanded by an expanding economy. Components of the project include assisting ICAG to enhance its professional accountancy qualification examination system, as well as develop roadmaps to accredit educational institutions and training offices, tuition provided by the ICAG College, and the practical training and experience of newly qualified professional accountants.
ICAG has achieved significant progress in enhancing its educational requirements to meet the revised IES standards through the project. In July 2018, the institute launched a new syllabus and learning materials which takes effect in November 2019. The new syllabus will use business case studies for the first time and employs local writers to ensure that country context is taken into consideration in the learning materials and exam. To support students the institute provides resources such as mock exams and sample papers. ICAG notes that a learning outcome approach and assessment criteria were taken into consideration and the ICAEW qualification was used as a benchmark. ICAG’s examination system has also been enhanced due to workshops and mentoring for ICAG staff on examination governance, preparation and administration (i.e. setting, moderating, and marking exams); a detailed manual on best practice in examinations processes; and a report on examination quality control procedures tailored to the national context.
Furthermore, ICAG has established a Partnership in Learning (PiL) scheme to accredit independent tuition providers that teach towards the ICAG qualifications. Tuition providers are registered with ICAG and ICAG will grade providers enabling the institute to assess, identify, and publicly recognize those providers that meet quality standards. To date, the institute as registered 59 PiLs. To improve the quality of teaching there is an accompanying program of course to train teachers of the tuition providers as well. The ICAG College—the tuition provider associated with ICAG—also received support to build its capacity by establishing it as a separate entity with an alternative governance regime and business plan.
Finally, through the project, ICAG has also established an Authorized Training Employers (ATE) scheme whereby ICAG can also accredit practical experience providers for candidates. Students must complete three years of practical experience. To practice auditing, qualified members must obtain a practicing license from ICAG that is to be renewed annually. Obtaining a practicing license requires four years of practical experience (of which three should be with an audit firm) and two years of post-qualification experience. The institute has been provided with a set of tools and templates that contain guidance on establishing training standards and student/member competencies, ongoing monitoring of progress, and communication to employers and students. This is intended to raise the quality of practical experience and increase the connectivity between ICAG and employers to maintain professional competencies. Under the ATE scheme, 35 employers have been registered.
The institute’s CPD requirements are 35 credits per year. The ICAG Education and Training Directorate monitors members’ compliance with CPD requirements and posts an annual CPD calendar on its website. Noncompliance with the CPD requirements result in suspension of membership.
Finally, ICAG states that it actively promotes compliance with IES to the National Council for Tertiary Education and the National Board for Technical Education which set standards for universities. Consequently, ICAG has also signed MoUs with six universities to ensure that their accountancy courses comply with IES. Subsequently, it has established a committee that is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the MoUs to ensure that universities do comply with ICAG’s expectations for IPD requirements.
ICAG has made significant progress in enhancing its fulfillment of SMO 2 and meeting the revised IES requirements. As it progresses with the implementation of new schemes to support the quality of educational programming, it should provide IFAC with the updated information and developments. It is encouraged to participate where relevant in sharing its perspective and experiences in implementing national accountancy education requirements that meet the revised IES as part of IFAC’s new approach to accountancy education.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
Under the Companies Act, 2019, (Act 992), ICAG is responsible for adopting auditing standards in Ghana. The institute has established a process to adopt ISA as the standards are issued by the IAASB and focuses its efforts on assisting its members with the implementation of the standards.
ICAG indicates that it: (i) monitors new and amended standards issued by the IAASB; (ii) collaborates with the National Council for Tertiary Education and the National Board for Technical Education to promote the inclusion of ISA in universities’ syllabi; and (iii) disseminates information on updates to the standards and international developments in the area through printed materials, the ICAG newsletter, and journal. Recent engagement with National Accreditation Board (NAB) has resulted in NAB agreeing to have a member of ICAG sit on their Accreditation Committee.
ICAG organizes seminars for members on the application of ISA, ISQC 1, ISREs, ISAEs, and ISRSs, includes courses on ISA and other pronouncements in their syllabus and CPD programs. In this regard, it has offered several trainings on the new auditor’s report and Key Audit Matters.
Lastly, ICAG contributes to the standard-setting process and activities of the IAASB by reviewing and providing comments on exposure drafts.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
ICAG, which has direct responsibility for adopting ethical requirements for its members, states that is has adopted the IESBA Code of Ethics and adopts any revisions on an ongoing basis. This has included the NOCLAR standard applicable in the 2016 version of the IESBA Code. Furthermore, ICAG indicates that it has applied to reprint and disseminate the 2018 International Code to its members, which is significantly revised and is effective in 2019.
With the launch of its latest syllabi, ICAG states that it has integrated ethics into the majority of the subjects in its curricula and examination to ensure that candidates understand their ethical obligations as a professional accountant. All newly admitted members are required to complete an ethics training program as part of pursuing the Chartered Accountant (CA) or Practicing Accountant (PA) designation qualifications offered by ICAG. The program includes interactive case studies, scenarios and self-test questions that are designed to develop professional ethics.
Once individuals are members of ICAG, they are required to remain up-to-date on professional ethics topics. This is reinforced in members’ continuing professional development (CPD) returns in which they must confirm they have read the Code of Ethics. ICAG offers continuing professional development training and workshops on the Code Ethics; for example, ICAG notes that it offered training and circulated guidance material to members on new and revised requirements.
ICAG has demonstrated its commitment to the Code of Ethics by disciplining members and students who fall below ethical standards, including revoking the membership of members and students.
Lastly, ICAG contributes to the standard-setting process and activities of the IESBA by reviewing and providing comments on exposure drafts.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
In 2014, the Ministry of Finance approved the adoption of accrual-basis IPSAS upon the recommendation of ICAG and the Controller and Accountant General’s Department.
The challenge now lies in implementation as public accounts prepared by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department currently use a modified accrual basis of accounting. ICAG plays a leading role in supporting the implementation of IPSAS in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance.
As part of this collaboration, ICAG has supported the MoF in the creation of a Working Group to establish a strategic roadmap for the implementation of IPSAS. Previously, the deadline for implementation of the standards was in 2019 but this was not feasible due to resource constraints. In light of new funding from the Swiss government, ICAG reports that that the roadmap has been re-launched and new goal for complete implementation is 2023. ICAG will have a significant role as a training and technical advisor in this area as outlined by the work plan created with the Ministry of Finance and Controller & Accountant General:The development and roll out of IPSAS certification program and activities involved;The development and roll out of IPSAS based CPDs and training sessions;The provision of learning resources on IPSAS on ICAG’s website;The provision of quality assurance support to the team of Consultants engaged by the Controller and Accountant General (CAG) to work on IPSAS adoption and implementation;The provision of monitoring and evaluation support to the CAG to ensure that risks that are likely to derail successful implementation of IPSAS, independently identified by ICAG are brought to the attention of the CAG; and.The provision of advocacy on the benefits of IPSAS adoption and implementation to civil society organizations, donors and the general Ghanaian public and the activities involved.
ICAG signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy to collaborate on promoting good public financial management. Under the MoU, both PAOs agreed to collaborate in the implementation of IPSAS in Ghana and CIPFA will support the IPSAS implementation roadmap.
Presently, ICAG indicates that it includes IPSAS in its syllabus for qualifying examinations and promotes IPSAS inclusion in the universities’ accountancy syllabi. The institute also supports its members by organizing seminars explaining the requirements and use of IPSAS, communicating any revisions to IPSAS, and providing copies of the IPSAS Handbook to members.
Lastly, ICAG is active in participating in the international standard-setting process by providing comments on exposure drafts published by IPSASB.
As the implementation of the accrual-IPSAS roadmap progress, ICAG is encouraged to provide updates on its initiatives and involvement in execution of the roadmap.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
The ICAG is responsible for establishing an investigation and discipline (I&D) system for its members in accordance with the Chartered Accountants Act 1963. The institute has established a Professional Standards and Ethics Committee (PSEC) to investigate any cases. A separate disciplinary committee will be constituted if the investigation warrants disciplinary action. ICAG indicates that it continuously evaluates the independence of panel members, and maintains records of cases and publishes cases when necessary. The PSEC has dealt with at least 22 cases, with one member and one student’s membership having been withdrawn.
ICAG has conducted a self-assessment of its I&D system against the revised SMO 6 requirements and has noted gaps that are primarily due to legal constraints. According to law, all members of its disciplinary committee must be professional accountants. ICAG is working to remedy this with a new bill that was put forth to Parliament; it is envisaged that the bill will be passed by in Q3 2020. Other gaps relate to administrative processes such as timeframe targets for handling cases, tracking statuses of cases and performing regular reviews of the system.
The institute holds seminars to increase its members’ and the public’s awareness of the I&D mechanisms. ICAG also disseminates information in its quarterly journal, The Professional Accountant, and other publications, and provides guidance notes to members about I&D processes.
ICAG is encouraged to share any updates as they are available on the progress of the new bill that would enable its I&D procedures to fully align with SMO 6 requirements. Once the bill is approved, ICAG is then encouraged to outline its roadmap for eliminating the identified gaps.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
The Companies Act, 2019, (Act 992) governs the corporate financial reporting, accounting, and auditing requirements in Ghana. The Act outlines the preparation and publication of financial statements and provides legal backing to the standards that have been issued by ICAG.
In 2007, ICAG adopted IFRS as the accounting standards required for the preparation of financial statements of all companies whose securities trade in a public market. IFRS are also required for the financial statements of all government business enterprises, banks, insurance companies, securities brokers, pension funds, and public utilities. In January 2012, IFRS for SMEs was officially adopted effective 2015.
To support implementation, ICAG has organized seminars and continuing professional development courses to educate members on the application of IFRS and IFRS for SMEs and distributes copies of IFRS for SMEs to its members. It also offers a post-diploma specialization course on IFRS. The institute monitors IFRS compliance to ensure successful implementation of the standards.
Lastly, ICAG contributes to the standard-setting process and activities of the IASB by reviewing and providing comments on exposure drafts.
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