Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria
Member | Established: 1965 | Member since 1977
ICAN, whose membership comprises accountants, auditors, and accounting technicians, was established in 1965 by Act of Parliament No. 15 of September 1, 1965 (the ICAN Act). ICAN is a mandatory membership organization and members of ICAN receive the title of Chartered Accountant or Associate Accounting Technician upon fulfillment of education and certification requirements for either stream. The titles are protected under the ICAN Act. ICAN’s responsibilities in relation to its members are (i) setting initial professional development and continuing professional development requirements for its members; (ii) determining examination and certification requirements for members; (iii) maintaining a membership register; (iv) enforcing rules of professional conduct as well as ethical and technical standards for its members; and (v) carrying out quality assurance reviews for members.
The ICAN is a founding member of Association of Accountancy Bodies in West Africa, IFAC, and Pan African Federation of Accountants.
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 of Nigeria (FRC) is legally responsible for the establishment of a quality assurance (QA) review system in Nigeria in accordance with the FRC Act of 2011. In 2014, the FRC issued Guidelines/Regulations for Inspection and Monitoring of Reporting Entities. FRC has not fully commenced QA reviews although on November 1, 2018, the FRC inaugurated an Audit Regulation Working Group to provide it with technical assistance in releasing a comprehensive set of rules to better regulate the independent audit of corporate financial reporting in the interest of members of the public. Nonetheless, the two professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) in the country—the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) and ICAN—have established their own QA review systems for their respective members in accordance with their founding legislations and conduct QA reviews for audits of all entities (both PIE and non-PIE).
The ICAN has been engaged in conducting QA reviews of its member firms since 2009 and reports that its QA system is aligned with SMO 1 best practices. As of April 2018, the institute reports that 342 practicing firms have been reviewed. As ICAN and FRC do legally share responsibility for QA reviews, ICAN indicates that it is engaging with FRC leadership on this topic and looking to sign an MoU for future collaboration.
ICAN details that it regularly reviews its QA system guidelines to ensure the competence of its quality control reviewers. It has published “Policy Guidelines for Practice Reviews” that codify the QA review procedures. ICAN organizes orientation programs for both current and newly appointed practice reviewers on the review procedures and reporting.
Furthermore, to support its members and firms, the institute indicates that it conducts regular seminars and includes CPD courses on the QA review system, ISQC 1 and other related subjects. As part of the QA review process, ICAN supports the development and agreement of action plans and recommendations for firms to further meet professional and quality control requirements. The institute follows-up on the implementation of these plans and annually publishes the findings of QA reviews highlighting common deficiencies. Additionally, ICAN has developed and will soon publish a practice manual for SMPs.
As the FRC builds capacity to carry out QA reviews of PIEs, ICAN may consider sharing the SMO 1 best practices with the FRC so that it may review and incorporate these best practices into its inspection procedures.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
Initial and continuing professional development (IPD and CPD) of professional accountants in Nigeria is determined by the two professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) in the country—ICAN and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN)—as well as the National Universities Commission (NUC) and National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). The NUC and NBTE determine the curriculum of universities in Nigeria and polytechnic institutions and the PAOs accredit universities to ensure alignment with the IES requirements.
The ICAN Act of 1965 grants ICAN authority to determine the IPD and CPD requirements for the designations of Chartered Accountant (CA) and Associate Accounting Technician (AAT). These requirements include completing a professional accountancy education program, passing the qualifying examination, and completing a three-year internship with a firm of chartered accountants. The ICAN indicates that its syllabus for its professional accountancy education program was revised in 2014 by its technical team to ensure that upon completion, the newly qualified CA would have the necessary technical knowledge and skills to discuss, analyze and evaluate a variety of complex business cases in often unpredictable business environment exercising professional judgment to communicate better solutions. The new syllabus takes effect in November 2019 and meets the revisions of IES requirements from 2015 which outline a learning outcome approach to IPD components.
Given that the NUC and the NBTE determine the curriculum of Universities and Polytechnic institutions in Nigeria and ICAN is one of the PAOs in the country that accredits universities, the institute reports that it is actively promoting the adoption and incorporation of IES into the accountancy education programs. ICAN will generally carry out accreditation of education providers every four years to ensure programs keep up with new standards.
In regard to CPD, ICAN has increased its CPD requirements since 2015 and now members must obtain 90 credits of CPD over a three-year period. ICAN publishes an annual CPD calendar to notify members of CPD opportunities. ICAN has also added online courses to complement in-person CPD offerings.
Lastly, ICAN reports that it circulates to all exposure drafts and all pronouncements issued by the IAESB amongst members and supports submissions of responses.
ICAN has demonstrated good progress in enhancing its CPD to better meet IES 7 requirements which stipulate 120 hours over a three-year period as best practice for CPD if using an input-based approach. ICAN may consider how it can continue to enhance its CPD obligations to meet this benchmark if it continues to utilize an input-based approach.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
In 2011, through the Financial Reporting Council Act, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) was granted authority to develop or adopt and keep up-to-date auditing standards issued by relevant professional bodies and ensure consistency between the standards issued and the auditing standards and pronouncements of the IAASB. The FRC, ICAN, and ANAN all indicate that all standards and pronouncements are adopted as issued by the IAASB for application in the jurisdiction. ICAN confirms that it then further assists with standards’ implementation.
The institute notes that it includes ISA and standard-related topics in its mandatory CPD programming and holds periodic technical seminars and workshops to raise members’ awareness of new and revised standards. The institute also has a Technical Helpdesk to respond to members’ technical queries. Additionally, ICAN has incorporated the latest ISA into its revised syllabus.
Finally, the institute reports that it does provide comments on exposure Drafts and other pronouncements issued by the IAASB and when necessary will constitute a team of experts to review comments from members.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) Act of 2011 establishes the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) as the ethical standard-setter for registered professional accountants (in Nigeria this means auditors and other professionals providing services to public interest entities (PIEs)). The FRC Act outlines that FRC is responsible for developing and liaising with relevant professional bodies—ICAN and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN)—regarding ethical standards.
ICAN developed a “Professional Code of Conduct and Guide for Members” as part of its responsibility under the ICAN Act of 1965. However, ICAN decided, in May 2018, to directly adopt the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants issued by the IESBA, including the NOCLAR standard with effect from July 2017.
ICAN leadership has carried out several awareness raising initiatives on the NOCLAR standard and implications for ICAN members. It has also provided access to the Code of Conduct on its website, print media, and sent hardcopies to members and stakeholders.
Furthermore, ICAN notes that its revised syllabus, effective November 2019, includes ethics-related topics in almost all modules in addition to a specific module covering Management, Governance and Ethics. Its mandatory CPD programming also includes training on the ethical requirements and new developments. With the effective date of June 2019 for the 2018 IESBA Code, ICAN indicates that it will incorporate the revised Code into its training curriculum.
Finally, the ICAN notes that at the international level it responds to exposure drafts issued by the IESBA.
ICAN has demonstrated that it has implemented a best practice mechanism for keeping up to date with the developments in the IESBA Code of Ethics. ICAN will want to ensure that training and communications are initiated to support effective implementation of the 2018 revised and restructured Code of Ethics issued by the IESBA amongst members.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
Public sector accounting standards are to be developed or adopted by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) and be in line with the IPSAS as issued by the IPSASB. FRC developed a roadmap for the phased adoption and implementation of accrual-basis IPSAS at all levels of the government, with the full adoption which became effective January 2016.The ICAN and ANAN report that accrual-basis IPSAS are now adopted and applicable for all public sector entities. The 2016 government financial statements were the first to be compliant with IPSAS and were supposed to have comparative figures of 2015 which should also be compliant with IPSAS.
Although ICAN is not responsible for setting standards in this area, it indicates that it actively supports the FRC’s adoption process and the implementation of the standards.
For example, in 2018, ICAN launched its Accountability Index (ICAN-AI)—a first-of-its kind framework in Nigeria for assessing, rating and ranking public finance management and public governance practices across the three tiers of government in Nigeria namely: the federal, state, and local governments. ICAN has engaged in extensive dialogue with the government to support the implementation of accrual-basis IPSAS and to promote the importance of the AI.
In addition, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), Office of the Accountant General, and ICAN have signed a “twinning” agreement to strengthen public financial management (PFM). This includes access to CIPFA training and the development of a joint certification in public financial management (PFM) that is adapted for the Nigerian context. Through the MoU, ICAN and CIPFA are also supporting the operations of a Treasury Academy in Abuja which is run by the Office of the Accountant General. Finally, the MoU also permits dual membership for ICAN members with five years of public service experience.
Furthermore, the institute states that it also disseminates new and revised standards, guidelines, and other pronouncements issued by IPSASB and facilitates training on IPSAS for professionals at the federal and state levels.
Finally, ICAN is also involved in the international standard-setting process by offering comments on exposure drafts and other pronouncements issued by IPSASB, when deemed necessary.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
In Nigeria, there are three entities involved in the investigation and discipline (I&D) of professional accountants: the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC)—the audit oversight authority—along with the two professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) in the country—ICAN and ANAN. FRC is authorized to investigate and issue sanctions for any professional accountant that fails to comply with applicable standards and professional codes of conduct while the PAOs may conduct I&D procedures for their respective members.
ICAN is empowered to investigate and discipline members for breach of professional standards and misconduct under the ICAN Act of 1965. ICAN states its I&D system incorporates major requirements of SMO 6 and it is working to ensure the SMO 6 requirements are fully met. As of 2019, the remaining inconsistency is that ICAN’s I&D committees are only comprised of professional accountants although lawyers do serve as secretaries.
The Institute has set timelines and a tracking mechanism for timely disposing of disciplinary cases (even making a KPI associated with this) and assessing the independence of Accountants’ Investigating Panel (AIP) members. ICAN details that I&D of its members is primarily initiated through complaints against members of the Institute by the public. The Institute’s AIP will investigate the complaint and then may decide to refer the case to the Accountants’ Disciplinary Tribunal (ADT). Over the course of 2016–2017, the AIP heard 42 cases with 19 being referred to the ADT.
ICAN indicates that it has developed activities to further raise its members’ awareness of the I&D mechanisms including organizing seminars on the Code of Ethics and consequences of non-compliance; informational booklets on the I&D procedures that are distributed during Annual General Meetings; and publishing an annual Accountants’ Disciplinary Tribunal’s compendium of decided Tribunal matters beginning from 2007.
Additionally, the Institute reports that it also offers annual training on I&D procedures to AIP and ADT members and the ICAN Legal Department on their expectations, duties, and obligations.
Lastly of note is that ICAN has also established a Students Investigating Committee to consider charges of unethical practices and examination malpractices against the institute’s students writing both the Chartered Accountant Examinations and the Accounting Technicians Scheme West Africa (ATSWA) exam. It also has created an AAT Investigating Committee to address allegations of unethical malpractices against Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) members.
ICAN has completed a self-assessment of its I&D procedures against the SMO 6 best practices and identified a remaining inconsistency and noted that it conducts reviews of I&D procedures but not regularly. ICAN is encouraged to undertake regular reviews of its I&D procedures to see if it can address gaps to ensure that its system is operating as effectively as possible. Additionally, ICAN has indicated that there is presently no collaboration with ANAN and the FRC regarding I&D of professional accountants. The Institute may consider how it could collaborate with the FRC to share information and avoid duplication of efforts in this area.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
All companies are required to prepare annual financial statements in accordance with standards issued by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) as established by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Act of 2011 (FRC Act). Under the FRC Act, accounting standards adopted by the FRC must be in line with the standards issued by the IASB. The FRC has accordingly adopted IFRS and IFRS for Small and Medium-sized Entities (SMEs). ICAN indicates it is active in its support of FRC’s standard-setting process.
The Institute reports that it raises awareness of the IFRS through regular workshops held at various times for members and regularly informs members of pronouncements and papers issued by the IASB. To support implementation, the ICAN’s Financial Reporting Faculty (FRF) runs IFRS certification programs and seminars and incorporates other IFRS training into its continuing professional development courses. ICAN has also ensured that its revised syllabus effective in November 2019 includes the most recent IFRS and IFRS for SMEs. Furthermore, the Institute notes that it further supports members by issuing technical guidance on IFRS through its technical bulletins and responding to member inquiries via a Technical Helpdesk.
Finally, ICAN reports that it comments on exposure drafts issued by the IASB and FRC to participate in the national and international standard-setting processes.
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