Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi
Member | Established: 1969 | Member since 1983
The ICAM is the only professional accountancy organization in Malawi and all individuals practicing accountancy must join the institute. The institute was established in 2013 under the Public Accountants and Auditors Act (PAA) Act No 5 of 2013, which repealed the PAA 1982. ICAM was created through a merger of the Public Accountants Examination Council of Malawi and the Society of Chartered Accountants of Malawi, the preceding accountancy organization to ICAM. ICAM strives to maintain the highest professional standards in accountancy, through the education and training of its members to serve the business community, the government and the nation at large.
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
Under the Public Accountants and Auditors Act of 2012, the Malawi Accountant Board (MAB) is responsible for establishing and carrying out quality assurance (QA) reviews. Prior to the enactment of the legislation, ICAM was tasked with this function and had contracted the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants to conduct QA reviews in Malawi. The institute also set the relevant quality control standards and was active in raising awareness of the importance of QA reviews to practitioners, government, and regulators, and established a Business Action Task Force with the Malawi Stock Exchange to support the new QA review system.
From 2012–2015, ICAM and MAB received capacity building assistance from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales as part of a three-year twinning arrangement that was funded by the World Bank and in 2014, the MAB assumed the legal responsibility for establishing and implementing the QA review system.
Throughout 2016, ICAM, in collaboration with the ICAEW and the MAB, worked to design and operate an SMO 1-compliant Audit Quality Assurance system. The system became operational in June 2016 and ICAM continues to be actively involved in ensuring that the QA system remains in line with SMO 1 requirements. The institute has established a link between the QA reviews and its investigative and discipline system by using the findings of the QA reports to review compliance with ISQC 1 and other quality control standards. In addition, ICAM uses the findings to prepare continuing professional development programming to enhance areas where its members need further support. Furthermore, for practicing members who repeatedly fail their QA reviews, ICAM has developed a practice review policy to ensure that there is a coherent intervention mechanism.
Moreover, in October 2016, ICAM established an Assurance Governance Committee to facilitate the collection of feedback and other issues from practitioners regarding the QA reviews. ICAM will then provide this information to MAB to ensure proper exchanges of information.
In addition to its trainings on the QA review process and programming developed on the results of the reviews, throughout 2016 ICAM reports that it also provided training on the new auditor’s report, the new Companies Act (CA 2013), and new auditing standards.
ICAM is encouraged to continue its strong collaboration with the MAB to ensure that the new QA system is aligned with the requirements of SMO 1 (revised 2012). Within its SMO Action Plan, ICAM is encouraged to indicate the number of QA reviews that have been carried out since the launch of the MAB’s system.
- SMO 2: International Education Standards
When the Public Accountants and Auditors Acts of 2012 became effective in 2014, ICAM became responsible for establishing initial and continuing professional accountancy education and development (IPD and CPD), as well as for certification examinations. Prior to the enactment of the act, the institute participated in the education and examination process in an advisory role, promoted for an IES–compliant qualification framework, and collaborated with the ACCA to implement and enforce CPD requirements for ICAM members. Accordingly, the institute has been proactive in this standard-setting area prior to being granted the legal authority to set IPD and CPD.
In 2014, ICAM launched a new professional qualification—Chartered Accountants (Malawi, CA(M))—with the technical assistance of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW). ICAM reports that as part of the qualification is modeled on ICAEW’s professional qualification and was structured to ensure alignment with the IES requirements. The institute supports candidates with the examination process by making past exams available on its website. In addition, the institute also updated its CPD system to include a CPD Policy with guidelines on CPD curriculum, implementation, and enforcement.
ICAM indicates that it has established processes to continuously review the IES requirements and its existing procedures to ensure the institute and other education providers maintain compliance with the IES. Furthermore, the institute states that it participates in standard-setting forums organized by the Pan African Federation of Accountants or by having its Education and Training Committee collect comments from members and submit them directly to the IAESB.
As ICAM reviews its existing procedures and qualification, it is encouraged to establish plans within its next Action Plan to conduct a review of the revised IES, which are effective as of 2015, in order to identify potential areas for improvements. For example, ICAM could proceed with updating its membership admissions procedures to include new final assessment methods. ICAM may consider doing this review in coordination with another PAO, such as the ICAEW.
- SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
In May 2016, Malawi’s auditing framework was updated with the enactment of the Companies Act (CA), Act No. 15 of 2013. The CA 2013 introduced the legal requirement that audits must be conducted in accordance with ISA. Prior to this legislation, ICAM was the de facto standard-setter and had adopted ISA by reference as issued by the IAASB without modifications.
Presently, ICAM focuses its efforts on supporting the standards’ implementation by providing implementation guidance, education and training courses, and disseminating IAASB-issued updates and pronouncements to its members.
In particular, the institute organizes annual training workshops on new and revised standards. Throughout 2015–2016, the institute states that it held trainings on the requirements of the new auditor reporting standards and also issued a number of communiques and circulars on the new standards through its magazine, website, and emails.
Additionally, ICAM explains that it supports its practicing members’ implementation of ISA with the help of international technical support providers and through the acquisition of electronic ISA-based audit programs for its members’ use. ICAM also assists small- and medium-sized practices and, in 2014, acquired an electronic ISA-compliant audit program and methodology through an arrangement with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.
Finally, ICAM actively participates in international standard-setting and has a Standards Committee that reviews and comments on exposure drafts issued by the IAASB. In 2016, ICAM reports that its Committee submitted comments to various exposure drafts throughout the year. Furthermore, ICAM is a member of the PAFA Standards Setters Forum and participated in the 2016 PAFA Standard Setters Forum meeting held in Zambia and plans to participate in the 2017 Forum being held in Kenya. The Forum provides a platform for members to jointly discuss and provide input into IAASB projects and enables PAOs to share practical insights on methodologies of supporting practitioners’ adoption and application.
ICAM is encouraged to ensure that the educational curriculum throughout the accountancy education program, and the relevant syllabus, reflect revised and updated standard-related topics.
- SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
ICAM is directly responsible for setting ethical requirements for professional accountants and, in line with its mandate, has established ongoing processes to adopt the currently effective IESBA Code of Ethics as issued and without modifications. Accordingly, as of the time of this assessment, ICAM indicates that the 2016 IESBA Code has been adopted and therefore, its primary focus is on supporting its members with the implementation of the Code by providing guidance, training (both in its initial and continuing professional development courses), and developing new tools to assist its members with compliance.
One tool that ICAM has established is an online ethics help desk. The institute continues to raise awareness amongst members about the availability of the help desk through its New Member Conference, which took place in August 2016 and also included a panel discussion on ethics for professional accountants. In addition, ICAM includes articles on ethics content within its magazine which is issued on a quarterly basis.
Moreover, during 2016, ICAM held two additional events that emphasized ethics topics. In May 2016, ICAM conducted an open forum discussion on ‘Fighting Fraud and Corruption in Malawi’ which counted government officials and Malawi Accountant Board representative in attendance. In September 2016, ICAM held its annual conference under the theme ‘Strengthening Governance and Accountability for Sustainable Development’ which also included ethics discussions. Lastly, ICAM indicates that it has planned open forum discussions on NOCLAR in 2017. The institute notes that these types of forums highlight existing ethical gaps and provide opportunities to discuss appropriate interventions and solutions.
Given the recent launch of national qualifications and pending effective date of the 2016 IESBA Code of Ethics, which includes the NOCLAR standard, ICAM is encouraged to ensure that the educational curriculum throughout the accountancy education program, and the relevant syllabus, reflect revised and updated standard-related topics. Additionally, the institute could provide specific examples in its Action Plan of recent educational and training activities that it conducts in its initial and continuing professional accountancy education program on professional ethics and other related topics. Lastly, ICAM could consider participating in the international standard-setting process by providing comments on IESBA-issued exposure drafts.
- SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
In Malawi, the government is responsible for the adoption of public sector accounting standards and has committed to the adoption and implementation of IPSAS. ICAM details that it is active in promoting the progression of IPSAS implementation, raising government officials’ awareness of the benefits of the standards, and providing technical support to the government.
ICAM conducts a number of activities to support IPSAS adoption, primarily through its IPSAS Task Force. In collaboration with the Malawi Accountant Board (MAB) and the Ministry of Finance, the Task Force was strengthened through the inclusion of new representatives. The following institutions are now a part of the Task Force and are charged with establishing a plan to progress with IPSAS implementation: the Secretary to Treasury, Accountant General, Auditor General, MAB, and ICAM, which is represented by its Chairman of the Public Sector Committee and the CEO. The Task Force has prepared a timetable for the adoption and implementation of IPSAS and will present it to the government authorities in September 2017.
Additionally, the institute has established its own Public Sector Committee which also engages in dialogue and meetings with relevant government authorities. For example, in June 2017, the Committee held a meeting with the Accountant and Auditor Generals to better understand areas where the government may require further assistance.
In 2016, ICAM utilized its annual conference as an opportunity to further promote the implementation of accrual-basis IPSAS to the Accountant General. Under the theme of “Strengthening Governance and Accountability for Sustainable Development”, the conference had a specific focus on deliberating the state of accountability of the public sector and accountability could be improved.
Finally, ICAM notes that IPSAS have been incorporated into its educational materials to support members who specialize in the public sector.
In its next SMO Action Plan, ICAM is encouraged to provide further information on ICAM’s role in executing the Task Force’s roadmap to progress with the implementation of IPSAS. Additionally, ICAM should also consider including information on how it supports its members who are employed in the public sector; for example, by providing continuing professional development on IPSAS. Lastly, if deemed appropriate, ICAM is encouraged to consider participating in the international standard-setting process by providing comments on the IPSASB’s exposure drafts and discussion papers.
- SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
With the responsibility for investigating and disciplining (I&D) its members, ICAM confirms that it has a system that is aligned with the requirements of SMO 6. The institute’s system is operational and comprises an Ethics and Investigations Committee that is responsible for receiving complaints and investigations while its Disciplinary Committee handles cases passed on by the Ethics and Investigations Committee. In 2016, ICAM reports that its system processed four cases.
ICAM raises awareness of the I&D system through the provision of material on ethics and disciplinary procedures to all new members. Additionally, ICAM publishes and disseminates information on the I&D system in the media, ICAM’s magazine, on its website, and in annual reports.
- SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
In May 2016, Malawi’s corporate accounting framework was updated with the enactment of the Companies Act (CA), Act No. 15 of 2013. The CA 2013 introduced the legal requirement to apply IFRS and IFRS for Small-and Medium-sized Entities (SMEs). Prior to the enactment of this legislation, the Public Accountants and Auditors Act of 2012 granted ICAM the authority to establish applicable accounting standards and the institute adopted by reference IFRS for public interest entities (PIEs) in 2001 and IFRS for SMEs for non-PIEs in 2009.
ICAM employs a variety of methods to support the implementation of IFRS and IFRS for SMEs by providing opportunities for its members to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the standards—as well as relevant updates and amendments—through the organization and hosting of training events. Additionally, ICAM notes that it organizes training on IFRS for SMEs and intends to include courses on IFRS for SMEs in its continuing professional development program.
Furthermore, the institute also issues technical guidance to members on IFRS, and technical articles are published in the institute’s magazine. ICAM also annually acquires and provides to members the standards and standards-related material from the IASB to ensure the most recent version of IFRS is being applied.
Finally, ICAM actively participates in international standard-setting and has a Standards Committee that reviews and comments on exposure drafts issued by the IASB. In 2016, ICAM reports that its Committee submitted comments to various exposure drafts throughout the year. The institute is also a member of the PAFA Standards Setters Forum and accordingly, it reports that it consulted with PAFA on any technical issues related to IFRS implementation throughout the year.
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