United Arab Emirates Accountants and Auditors Association
Associate | Established: 1997 | Associate since 2021
AAA is acknowledged by Federal Decree No. 227 of 1997 on the Establishment of a Professional Accountancy Organization in the UAE as a non-for-profit voluntary professional accountancy organization (PAO). AAA’s membership comprises accountants, auditors, firms, and students. AAA members are primarily professional accountants in business and offer a wide range of services including, but not limited to, accounting and bookkeeping, auditing, Value Added Tax consultancy, Economic Substance Requirements (ESR) consultancy, financial management, banking, internal audit, legal services, management accounting, finance and accounting education, and information & (IT) services in accounting.
AAA’s responsibilities include (i) developing and delivering continuing professional development (CPD) activities; (ii) enforcing member compliance with applicable accounting, auditing, and ethical standards as well as CPD requirements; and (iii) undertaking any other activities that promote high professional standards and improve the quality of the profession. AAA members are also subject to AAA’s ethical requirements and investigation & disciplinary (I&D) procedures. Since 2014, AAA offers a qualification for Chartered Accountants, the UAE Chartered Accountant (UAECA). Since the UAE is a largely expat-based country, members of AAA are generally members of other international PAOs with offices in the UAE and are subject to their rules and regulations.
In addition to being an Associate member of IFAC, AAA is a member of the Arab Federation of Accountants and Auditors (AFAA), and the Gulf Cooperation Council Accounting and Auditing Organization (GCCAAO).
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 Accountants and Auditors Association (AAA), with no direct responsibility for quality assurance (QA) reviews in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), focuses on supporting the Ministry of Economy (MoE).
AAA reports to be meeting with the MoE on a regular basis to initiate a QA review system for non-listed entities to improve the overall quality of audits in the country. Both entities are collaborating to determine AAA’s role in the process for small and medium sized audit firms (except auditors of listed companies) by 2022.
AAA initiated extensive discussions in 2020 and 2021 with the MoE and Financial Free Zones (FFZ) regulators to establish a National Committee for Quality Assurance with representation from each of the relevant authorities. The proposed mandate of the National Committee would be to streamline the audit oversight and QA requirements in the jurisdiction. AAA planned a joint roundtable event in 2021 with the regulators to begin the process of establishing the Committee and discussing alignment with SMO 1 requirements.
AAA has also been focusing on supporting its members by providing them with guidance material and trainings / workshops on QA review processes and quality control that are currently being operationalized by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority (ADAA), and delivers continuing professional development (CPD) training courses for its members.
AAA is encouraged to continue engaging with the various regulators to support the establishment of a unified QA review system in line with SMO 1 requirements, particularly in areas where gaps were identified. AAA is encouraged to provide an update on progress achieved to date pertaining to establishing a National Committee for Quality Assurance, as well as for the establishment of QA review procedures with the Ministry of Finance. The new suite of Quality Management standards that will become effective in 2021– 2022 will require significant change management for regulators and firms. AAA is encouraged to prepare members and raise awareness of stakeholders in the jurisdiction of the changes from quality control standards to quality management standards and update its training programming to ensure that its members are sufficiently prepared to apply the standards once they become effective.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
AAA is not involved in establishing educational requirements at the jurisdiction level although it raises awareness of regulators about IES and works to have the standards adopted.
AAA states that its education programming and requirements are derived from the revised IES requirements and are based on the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) education framework. AAA indicates in its SMO Action Plan that it is working towards operationalizing a committee in 2021 comprising experts from academia, AAA, and regulators to design a new course curriculum for the United Arab Emirates Chartered Accountant (UAECA) examinations in line with IES 2-7.
AAA reports to be in discussion with the Ministry of Education and National Qualification Authority to formally adopt 2019 IES, including the revisions to IES 2, 3, 4, and 8 that came into effect on January 1, 2021. Once these revisions are formally adopted, gaps in alignment (namely IES 8), will be eliminated. In the meantime, AAA disseminates the 2019 Handbook of International Education Standards translated by the Saudi Organization for Chartered and Professional Accountants (SOCPA) ahead of its discussions, to raise awareness.
As of the date of this assessment, AAA members who acquired the UAECA designation as well as an audit license from the Ministry of Economy (MoE) are required to fulfill 30 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) annually as stipulated in Cabinet Decree No. 12 of 2016 to renew their licenses and remain members of AAA in good standing. The MoE is in the process of amending legislation to reflect its decision to designate AAA as the only competent authority permitted to provide CPD to renew audit licenses. AAA facilitates access to CPD opportunities and resources for its members through organization of annual conferences and CPD seminars. It includes topical, technical issues in its CPD in addition to including current issues and themes within its examinations.
AAA should conduct a comprehensive review of the existing educational requirements for professional accountants in the UAE against those of 2019 IESs. For areas of less than full compliance, specific actions to close the gaps, if any, with a defined timeframe need to be developed in collaboration with other stakeholders. AAA can utilize the IFAC Accountancy Education E-Tool to review the current version of IESs and share these requirements with relevant stakeholders such as universities in the UAE. It is recommended that AAA complete the IES Checklist developed by IFAC which may be useful in progressing with the adoption of the revised requirements of the IES, especially IES 2, 3, 4 and 8 that are effective as of January 2021.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
With ISA adopted by law in the UAE, AAA focuses on supporting implementation of the standards and providing members with the most recently translated versions of the standards. As of the date of this assessment, AAA disseminates Saudi Organization for Chartered and Professional Accountants’ (SOCPA) Arabic translation of the 2018 Handbook of International Quality Control, Auditing, Review, Other Assurance, and Related Services Pronouncements (including 2019 revisions to ISA 315 and ISRS 4400). ISA are included in AAA’s educational programming, which is updated on a regular basis to reflect any revisions or updates in the international standards. AAA indicates that it is in the process of incorporating new and revised ISA (e.g. ISA 250 & 540) in the United Arab Emirates Chartered Accountants (UAECA) program syllabus and AAA technician exam, to be completed by March 2022.
AAA provides online resources and webcast recordings dedicated to audit and assurance topics to help members stay up to date on current audit and assurance trends, developments, and regulatory requirements. These resources include newsletters, technical articles published in AAA’s Quarterly EMagazine. Furthermore, AAA states that it has an integrated CPD program for audit practitioners that includes online, and in-house training and it affirms that its training is regularly enhanced to include material and content on new standards.
IAASB has issued an exposure draft of the proposed separate standard for audits of Less Complex Entities. AAA is encouraged to participate in the public consultation process for this landmark new draft standard.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
With the IESBA Code of Ethics adopted by law, AAA focuses on supporting implementation of the standards and providing members with the most recently translated versions of the standards. As of the date of the assessment, AAA disseminates Saudi Organization for Chartered and Professional Accountants’ (SOCPA) Arabic translation of the 2018 Handbook of the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants and support its members with implementation. AAA reports that it has incorporated the 2021 IESBA Code into its examination scheme and syllabus and updated its CPD program course offerings and training materials to include new and revised ethical requirements.
AAA employs several awareness and training initiatives to support its members in understanding and applying the ethical requirements. This includes online and in-person trainings on ethics and governance; access to resources and tools, including an info-sheet on NOCLAR; and disseminating newsletters and technical articles.
AAA reports to provide its members with IESBA’s exposure drafts for comment.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
AAA is not responsible for setting public sector accounting standards, but it has been proactive in this area despite its lack of legal authority. AAA engages in regular meetings with the Ministry of Economy (MoE); encourages its members to comment on Exposure Drafts issued by IPSASB; disseminates information on updates to the standards; and signed strategic partnerships with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) to offer AAA members CIPFA’s IPSAS Diploma and/or ACCA’s IPSAS certificate upon completing the training programs. In the meantime, AAA is in the process of operationalizing an AAA IPSAS Diploma planned for completion by December 2021, in collaboration with CIPFA.
AAA reports that to further support the implementation process, it provides education and training to its members in the public sector. Training events cover new and revised standards, as well as guidance on the application of the standards. AAA disseminates manuals, which include topics addressed in training seminars along with articles and examples on IPSAS implementation. AAA also collaborates on an ongoing basis with other professional organizations in the region to exchange experiences related to implementation of IPSAS.
AAA may find IFAC’s Train the Trainers: Introduction to IPSAS resource helpful for training and educational activities it offers.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
There are multiple stakeholders involved in the investigation and disciplinary (I&D) processes of auditors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in accordance with various laws.
While AAA does not yet operate its own I&D system, AAA members that obtain the United Arab Emirates Chartered Accountant (UAECA) qualification are subject to I&D processes via the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) I&D system which is fully aligned with SMO 6 requirements.
AAA is in the process of meeting with the various stakeholders in the jurisdiction to help address gaps in their I&D processes to also be fully in line with SMO 6 requirements in 2021 (subject to delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic). It reports to also be in discussion with the relevant stakeholders to streamline one I&D system for all auditors in the jurisdiction, to be operated by AAA under the oversight of the MoE.
While AAA has not yet fully established, or operationalized its own I&D system, reported that it would finalize its Disciplinary Rules, Procedures, and Sanctions for Non-Compliance manual by September 2021. The manual will be distributed to members prior to the launch of the AAA I&D system to prepare them and help increase awareness of the processes in advance.
In the meantime, AAA strives to ensure its members are informed of all provisions of the current I&D processes that are operational (Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority (ADAA), Security and Commodities Authority (SCA)), the ethics code, and other applicable professional standards along with the consequences of non-compliance through an appropriate communications plan, which includes its UAECA Program and holding information sessions.
To support its members, AAA ensures that all members have access to adequate continuing professional development courses on current regulations and the I&D systems and processes.
As a matter of priority, AAA should provide an update on its activities to establish and implement the AAAoperated unified national system that can investigate and discipline all professional accountants (not just auditors) in line with SMO 6. AAA is also encouraged to continue demonstrating how it is raising awareness of the public, business, private, and public sector stakeholders on the I&D processes while also ensuring its members are aware of the consequences of non-compliance and misconduct. In establishing the processes, AAA is encouraged to ensure that the results of QA reviews can be referred to the investigations committee, as necessary.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
While AAA has no direct responsibility for adoption of IFRS in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it reports to promote the application and understanding of the standards.
AAA disseminates IFRS and IFRS for SMEs-related materials to the universities to encourage its incorporation in the accounting curricula and signed a strategic partnership with ACCA to offer ACCA’s IFRS Diploma and/or certificate upon completing the applicable training programs. In the meantime, AAA is in the process of operationalizing an AAA IFRS Diploma planned for completion in 2021.
AAA assists its members with resources, such as Arabic translations of the IFRS Standards, tools and templates related to financial reporting in addition to offering in-person and online continuing professional development (CPD) training that covers financial reporting topics and coverage of the latest standards. AAA also shares information electronically on standard updates through its e-newsletter, magazine, technical articles, and email communications to further raise awareness. AAA also reportedly advocates for and encourages the practice of integrated reporting.
As for supporting standard-setting processes, AAA regularly seeks its members’ input on IASB Exposure Drafts. In December 2021, AAA conducted its annual accounting standards seminar to update members on any new developments related to IFRS and will include roundtable discussions on Exposure Drafts being issued.
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