At a time in world affairs when we’re witnessing a marked trend for countries to “go it alone” or “take back control” or even build walls between each other, here’s a bit of heartening news about cooperation and collaboration — from the world of accounting.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland and the U.S. accountancy bodies NASBA and AICPA have signed a historic deal in New York. The aim is “to provide a streamlined process for respective members to practice in the other’s jurisdiction.”
As ICAS explains the accord on its website, “The Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) provides a simple route for ICAS members to achieve the U.S. CPA and licensure, and for U.S. Certified Public Accountants to attain the CA designation and UK audit signing rights.”
This may all seem a little bit, shall we say, out of the mainstream or even obscure. But it is an antidote to some of the more aggressive posturing that’s evident on the global stage at the moment. It also sets a fine example of what can be achieved through the use of civilized diplomacy.
The UK government’s head of international trade, Dr Liam Fox, seems to agree. “This is a really welcome initiative, which my department supports, and shows the huge benefits which greater UK-US co-operation can bring to our businesses,” he says.
“Mutual recognition of qualifications can help boost trade in services, making it easier for our world-leading professionals to operate in other countries,” Fox continues. “Through our UK-US Trade and Investment Working Group we are looking at how we can support our services industries to work and trade across the Atlantic, building on our £50 billion of annual services exports to the USA.”
The agreement has been rubber stamped by all governing bodies, which in the UK are the Financial Reporting Council and ICAS Council.
Ken L. Bishop, president and CEO of NASBA, notes: “It is remarkable that it has taken decades to reach this historic agreement positively impacting the accounting professions of the United States and the UK. I applaud the tremendous effort and perseverance of the staff and volunteers of the respective organizations to finalize this crucial agreement. We appreciate the participation and support of the UK’s FRC in this endeavor. The relationships developed during this process will serve us well as we work together on future agreements.”
How U.S. CPAs Can Achieve Licensure Under the MRA
The Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) simplifies the process and reduces the examination requirements for eligible ICAS Members and Licensed CPAs. CAs need only pass one exam — the International Qualification Exam (IQEX) — and satisfy the relevant State Board requirements.
Eligible U.S. CPAs now need only complete the international qualification pathway, a two-year training contract, and have requisite UK audit experience.
For CAs to take advantage of this agreement, they must be an ICAS member in good standing and have completed:
- An undergraduate degree;
- The ICAS CA Qualification Program;
- Two years of post-qualification relevant practical work experience.
To apply, a U.S. CPA must be a licensed CPA in good standing with a State Board and have completed:
- An undergraduate degree;
- The Uniform CPA Exam;
- State Board experience requirements for licensure; and
- Achieved two years post-qualification practical work experience.