Institute of Public Accountants
Member | Established: 1923 | Member
Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)
Founded in 1923, the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) represents more than 35,000 members and students working in industry, commerce, government, academia and professional practice. The IPA supports and advocates for its members and the profession, especially those operating in the small and medium-sized entities sector of the economy.
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
In Australia, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)—the audit oversight regulator—and three professional accountancy organizations share responsibility for carrying out quality assurance (QA) reviews. The ASIC is authorized to review all audits of all entities while the PAOs implement review procedures for their respective members. IPA members in public practice are subject to a Professional Practice Quality Assurance Review (PPQA). The institute reports that its PPQA meet the SMO 1 requirements and its Board’s Pronouncement 4 - Quality Assurance Reviews outlines in detail what is expected of members throughout the QA review process.
IPA recognized that QA reviews can be time-consuming for accountants. In order to reduce this burden and support practitioners through the QA process, the institute launched an online PPQA. Members can complete the review online at their discretion and are required to answer questions relating to the running of their practice, compliance with ethical and professional standards, and other regulatory requirements. Answers are scaled and given different weightings; which results in a range of assessments. Trained reviewers can then review member responses and conduct more effective and targeted desk audits and field audits where necessary. The online system then allows IPA to readily access data and perform needs analyzes in order to offer more effective trainings to members. In cases of non-compliance with standards, the IPA may refer cases to the IPA Disciplinary Tribunal.
The institute’s Manager, Assurance and Compliance is charged with ensuring that quality reviewers are trained and competent to carry out reviews. This includes training of external reviews and reviewing and revising the PPQA materials and procedures on an ongoing basis. Relevant PPQA materials, such as pre-PPQA and PPQA online questionnaires, user guides, and answers to frequently asked questions, are available online for members’ preparation.
Furthermore, IPA notes that its Advocacy and Technical team partake in task forces when requested by the Accounting Professional & Ethical Standard Board and will regularly publicize professional and ethical standards on its website, technical newsletters, and email to keep members informed.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
Educational requirements for the two protected professional accountancy titles in Australia—registered company auditor (RCA) and qualified accountant—are governed by the Corporations Act 2001 and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) Act 2001. The ASIC and three professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) in the jurisdiction also have a role in setting and implementing initial and continuing professional development requirements (IPD and CPD, respectively). According to the Corporations Act 2001 and ASIC’s Regulatory Guide 154, one of the entry requirements for becoming an RCA or a qualified accountant, respectively, includes holding a recognized tertiary accounting qualification from one of the PAOs. IPA’s Member Institute of Public Accountants (MIPA) and Associate Institute of Public Accountants (AIPA) designations are recognized as accounting qualifications for these titles.
In order to use the AIPA designation and practice as a qualified accountant, an individual must hold an eligible accounting qualification from an accredited university or hold an eligible statutory registration with Australian Securities and Investments Commission or/and Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). AIPAs may then pursue the MIPA designation by completing Stage 1 of IPA’s Program which is offered in collaboration with Deakin University and is a six-unit curriculum. In order to complete Stage 1 of IPA’s Program and advance to the MIPA designation, individuals must complete three years’ of practical experience. The IPA offers a Mentored Experience Program (MEP) that is designed to provide a structured approach to the practical experience component. The MEP is a work-experience based program guided by a mentor and is a support mechanism for the remainder of IPA members’ career development. Finally, all IPA members must adhere to and report on CPD obligations; the IPA will conduct a biennial random audit check to ensure that members are meeting these requirements.
In further collaboration with Deakin University, IPA members that wish to pursue Stage 2 of the IPA Program will receive an MBA upon completion of the program and examinations. IPA Program MBA is case-study driven and shaped around members business’ strategic direction. The units in the MBA are more strategic in nature, and are geared towards ensuring candidates can apply their learnings directly to their working life no matter what stage they are in their career and communicate with clients in a strategic advisory role.
IPA reports that it maintains ongoing monitoring and implementation of all changes to the IES, including an increased focus on an output-based approach to professional accountancy education. To this end, the IPA’s professional program and CPD programming are reviewed and updated to take into account developments to ensure a practical and effective approach to education and training outcomes. The institute notes that it completely overhauled the Professional Practice Program for new Professional Practice Certificate holders by developing new exams which more rigorously test the learning outcomes. IPA’s events and CPD calendar offers a range of training activities and the institute also offers online training to support mobile access.
In addition to its AIPA and MIPA qualifications, the institute also offers other national recognized certifications and diplomas in bookkeeping, accounting, financial planning, and an Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Skill Set to support a range of other accountancy professionals in the jurisdiction such as accountants, registered tax agents, registered Business Activity Statement agents, and tax (financial) advisers.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
In Australia, the applicable auditing standards are issued by the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AUASB), an independent, statutory agency of the Australian Government. Since April 2006, the AUASB has released Australian Auditing Standards (AAS) based on the ISA as issued by the IAASB, meaning that the 2016 ISA—which include the new auditor’s report—are in effect.
IPA is committed to supporting the ongoing adoption and implementation process of AAS. In this regard, IPA reports that it is involved in consultations on any issues arising and that it participates in AUASB meetings, roundtables, and forums to provide a voice to its members’ views. The institute also notes it submits written comments on public consultations either independently or in collaboration with other Australia PAOs. The IPA will notify members when the AUASB and the IAASB issue updates to the standards.
To support its members with implementation of the auditing standards, the institute provides trainings along with variety of tools, templates, and resources on its website related to audit and assurance. Additionally, IPA indicates it makes amendments as necessary to its IPA Program to ensure recent developments are covered.
Finally, the IPA also reports that it engages with advocacy efforts as necessary with government ministers and State and Commonwealth representatives when changes arise relating to audit and assurance that have significant impacts across the country.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
The Accounting Professional & Ethical Standard Board (APESB), an independent body that was established in 2006, sets the ethical requirements with which all professional accountants working in Australia must comply. The APESB has issued the Accounting Professional & Ethical Standard (APES) 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, which is based on the IESBA Code of Ethics and was updated in September 2017 to incorporate the 2016 IESBA Code of Ethics, emphasizing the changes due to NOCLAR.
The IPA has undertaken extensive awareness raising and CPD relating to NOCLAR. This has included joint webinars with the APESB and AUASB; numerous articles and media coverage, CPD sessions both through webinars and face-to-face sessions at numerous CPD events, including conferences and master classes. The institute also employs several other initiatives to support its members in understanding and applying the ethical requirements by issuing communications through its Public Accountant e-journal and website; providing access to the APESB standards on its website; updating its IPA Program accordingly; and ensuring that complaints regarding misconduct are investigated and any necessary, appropriate action is taken.
The institute also reports that it is active in supporting the APSEB’s adoption process by partaking in the APSEB’s review of the APES 110 Code of Ethics every six months and submitting comments to exposure drafts issued by the APESB and the IESBA.
Additionally, IPA also notes that it advocates and liaises with other regulatory bodies and stakeholders to ensure that ensure that principles embedded in the IESBA Code of Ethics are incorporated in a range of laws—at both the state and commonwealth level—that impact on the accounting profession.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
Financial reporting for public sector entities in Australia is based on the Australian Accounting Standards (AAS) adopted by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB)—an independent Australia government agency. The Australian Accounting Standards incorporate and comply with IFRS and include a specific standard for public sector accounting. The AASB’s transaction neutrality policy means similar transactions and events are accounted for in a similar manner by all entities. The professional accountancy organizations in the jurisdiction report that when relevant for not-for-profit private or public sector entities, the AASB will seek consistency with IPSAS; however, no plans to adopt the IPSAS have been announced.
In this regard, IPA reports that its primary role in this area is to advocate for aligning the AAS with the IPSAS where appropriate and possible and to be involved in any consultations on the matter. IPA will also liaise with government authorities and officers on technical issues related to public sector matters.
IPA states that any members that are involved in the preparation, presentation or audits of financial reports in the public sector must comply with the accounting standards issued by the AASB and that the institute offers professional development and training focused on the public sector.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
Investigative and disciplinary (I&D) procedures for professional accountants in Australia are carried out by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and three professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) in the jurisdiction. The ASIC is charged with carrying out these procedures for registered company auditors while the PAOs implement I&D systems for their respective members.
IPA has an Investigations Office that receives complaints and will conduct investigations. It provides the public with access to its Complaint & Investigation Procedure Information and Compliant Form on its website. At the conclusion of an investigation, the Investigation Officer may refer the case to the IPA’s Disciplinary Tribunal which may issue a range of penalties. Individuals can appeal a decision to the IPA’s Appeal Tribunal. More detailed information on IPA’s I&D mechanism can be found here and IPA reports that it reviews its procedures on an ongoing basis to maintain alignment with the SMO 6 best practices.
IPA outlines common causes for investigation breaches, noting that many complaints can be avoided or mitigated if members are aware of their professional and ethical requirements and the common issues that may give rise to such matters. Alongside this list, the institute references standards and resources to ensure its members are informed of all provisions of the ethics code and other applicable professional standards.
In the interest of transparency and raising public awareness, the institute also details the results of all disciplinary proceedings on its webpage.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
The Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB), an independent Australian Government agency, sets the corporate accounting standards for the jurisdiction. There are two tiers of reporting requirements for preparing general purpose financial statements with Tier 1—known as the Australian Accounting Standards (AAS)—incorporates the IFRS while Tier 2 is based on the IFRS for Small- and Medium-sized Entities.
IPA reports that the AASB is a statutory body authorized to set corporate accounting standards and therefore the IPA’s role is to advocate for the incorporation of the IFRS into AAS and support the implementation of applicable standards by its members. For example, it will liaise with government officers and elected officials on reporting requirements and in regards to standard-setting processes, the institute explains that it is involved in regular reviews of IFRS adoption by the AASB.
IPA assists its members with a tools and templates related to financial reporting in addition to regularly offering in-person and online continuing professional development training that covers financial reporting topics and the latest standards. The institute also shares information on standard updates through its Public Accountant journal, e-newsletters, and email communications to accompany roundtable events that it organizes with key stakeholders to further raise awareness.
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