European Accounting Qualifications Explained
Each country in Europe has its own accounting body and accounting qualification. CareersinAudit.com asked some of its candidates to summarise the qualification process in their home country.
Title: Bedrijvsrevisor or Reviseur d’Entreprise
Students must hold a university degree or equivalent foreign diploma and pass an initial trainee exam programme. Completion of a three year traineeship within a recognised practice firm is followed by a competency exam, comprising a written and oral test. Finally, successful students declare an oath before the ‘Court of Commerce’.
The qualification in Cyprus is identical in every way to the ACA examinations in England and Wales. This extends to the fact that candidates are taught in accordance with UK standards, even though Cyprus tends to deal amore with IFRS. The amount of experience required post-qualification is also identical.
Students must have a Master´s degree and have completed three years of practical training under the supervision of an authorised public accountant or an approved public accountant. Upon completion of the training period, students can apply to sit the exam through the Audit Board. The exam comprises a written exam (two days) and an oral exam before the Audit Board. Upon successful completion, students can apply for the licence.
England & Wales
There are two stages to the ACA examinations – the Professional Stage and the Advanced Stage. The Professional Stage comprises nine exams and the Advanced Stage comprises two exams and a case study. Students must also fulfil a training contract, which is typically between three and five years in duration.
There is no autonomous institute in Estonia. Most Estonians seeking an accounting qualification will usually take the ACCA.
Title: KHT or HTM
KHT is regarded as the primary qualification and is authorised by the Central Chamber of Commerce in Finland. Students must fulfil certain educational requirements, hold relevant professional experience and pass an examination of professional competence. Students must have completed studies necessary for the duties of an auditor in subjects which are laid down in the regulation of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and obtained a minimum of three years practical experience under the supervision of a KHT.
HTM auditors must satisfy similar conditions but the grounding education may be from a lower university or polytechnic and the three years of practical experience may be less demanding.
Title: Expert Comptable
Whilst there are a number of routes to qualification in France, the majority of candidates enter the process upon completion of a degree from a business school. Qualification typically takes four years and passes through the following intermediate diplomas:
- DPECF (Diplôme Préparatoire aux Etudes Comptables et Financères) Written tests on employment law, economics and accounting…
- DECF (Diplôme d’Etudes Comptables et Financères) Written tests on law, economics, management, accounting and controlling…
- DESCF (Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Comptables et Financères) Written and oral tests.
Upon completion of these exams there follows a three-year traineeship with a practice firm followed by the presentation of a thesis on a subject related to the professional domain. The candidate must also pass a further two examinations: a written test on the statutory and contractual auditing of financial statements and an oral test relating to the traineeship and covering professional knowledge in general.
Whilst there are a number of routes to qualification, most students will first qualify as a ‘Steuerberater’ (A chartered German ‘Tax adviser’), which comprises three written examinations and one oral examination before deciding to move onto the Wirtschaftspruefer.
Qualified ‘Tax Advisers’ qualify to take the Wirtschaftspruefer by passing several qualifying exams before taking seven written exams.
There are relatively few Steuerberaters and Witschaftpruefers in Germany. On a long term average only 50% of applicants are successful.
Students need a relevant business degree, followed by three years professional experience, followed by a two year long education programme. Upon completion, the student becomes a qualified auditor. However, it is only after completing a further three year training programme that students become a full Chartered Accountant.
Title: Chartered Accountant
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland is the largest and longest established accountancy body in Ireland.
Students must pass a series of professional exams whilst under a training contract with a recognised practice firm. Successful candidates must also demonstrate IT competence
Title: Dottore Commercialista or Revisore dei conti
Students taking the Dottore Commercialista must hold a university degree and then complete a four year training programme within a recognised practice firm, followed by a series of oral exams.
There is no requirement for ‘Big 4’ trained auditors who have more than 3 years of professional experience to take the DC exams.
In order to take the Revisore dei conti, students must have a university degree in a relevant subject and complete a three year training programme. Successful completion of the final exam permits students to become a member of the ‘Registro dei revisori’.
To qualify for the Licence, candidates must have a University degree, and have completed three years of practical training in an audit firm. Candidates must then sit five legal- and financial-based exams, which generally take about one year. The licence is not very common, and usually only audit managers and above would hold the licence.
To qualify for a National Certified Audit licence in Lithuania candidates must have at least five years experience in auditing. They may then apply for the licence and sit five exams (including tax, audit and law exams). By the time the licence is awarded, candidates are usually at the level of audit manager or above. The licence is not very common, with most auditors now opting instead for the ACCA or CPA qualification.
Title: Réviseur d’Entreprises
Students must hold a full four year university degree and obtain a minimum of three years relevant experience within a recognised audit firm. During this period, the student must obtain a ‘Certification de Formation Complémentaire’, which comprises nine examinations. The final exam, ‘Diplome d’aptitude professionelle’, comprises a written and oral examination and presentation of a training report.
Title: Register Accountant or Administratieconsulent
Complete training program starts as soon as graduation after high school, college or university but eventually a BSc followed by a MSc in accountancy program and finally RA certification is achieved. Governed by Netherlands law and NIVRA professional organization. This auditor mainly serves listed clients. There are approximately 11.000 RA's in the Netherlands.
Complete training program starts after graduation at college by a BSc followed by a MSc in accountancy program and finally AA certification is achieved. Governed by Netherlands law and NOVAA professional organization. This auditor mainly serves SME clients. There are approximately 6.000 AA's in the Netherlands.
Title: Dutch CISA (RE = Register EDP-auditor)
Complete training program starts after graduation at college with a BSc or MSc followed by a MSc in IT auditing program and finally RE certification is achieved. Governed by Netherlands law and NOREA professional organization. This auditor mainly serves listed clients. There are approximately 1.000 RE's in the Netherlands.
Title: statsautorisert revisor or registrert revisor
A statsautorisert revisor is a state authorised public accountant and is regarded as the primary qualification. Students must pass, with a first class result, the MSc Degree in Auditing from the Norges Handelshøyskole (the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration) in Bergen or at Handelshøyskolen BI in Oslo. In order to gain admission to the MSc Programme, students must be a registered public accountant or hold a Bachelor level degree in Auditing or Business, or a Master in law or economics. The practice requirement is three years of relevant practice.
A registrert revisor has completed a Bachelor in Auditing at regional colleges or at Handelshøyskolen BI [the Norwegian School of Management BI]. There are eleven regional colleges that offer this education. All candidates need three years of relevant practical training prior to applying to be a registered public accountant.
Title: Statutory Auditor
The National Council of Statutory Auditors requires students to pass a series of examinations and receive a credit with a recognised practice firm on accounting. Upon completion of a two year application training period, students must pass a diploma examination, which is held oral exam held in front of the Examinations Committee.
Although Romania has its own Institute, most Romanians seeking an accounting qualification will usually take the ACCA. ACCA qualification automatically ensures the RCA licence.
Title: CIPA (Certified International Professional Accountant)
Students must hold a university degree and have completed three years work experience in an economics or finance area before taking the professional examination. Students must also complete a six-month training period.
The Scottish Institute is the world’s oldest professional body of accountants. Students must secure a training contract with a recognised practice firm and follow a three year programme combining study with professional exams.
Title: Slovenski Institut za Revizijo
To become a chartered accountant takes one year. The qualification consists of four exams, followed by the final major written exam at the end of the course. Candidates then undertake an oral exam to justify their written answers. As long as the exams have been passed there is no need for any professional experience to be undertaken for full qualification.
Title: Censor Jurado de Cuentas
This is the closest equivalent to an accounting qualification in Spain and allows holders to sign off audit reports in accordance with Spanish law. The certificate requires relevant experience in an audit practice (usually four years); specific tests on accounting matters and audit matters followed by a final examination (auditing/ accounting/ business case) convoked by any of the three professional audit associations. The qualification is relatively rare.
Title: Auktoriserad revisor or Ggodkänd Revisor
Auktoriserad revisor is generally regarded as the primary qualification. Students must hold a master´s degree focusing on economic subjects. In addition to the three years required for qualification the candidate must have another two years of practical experience. The additional two years must be supervised by an authorised public accountant and must include qualified assistance in audits that offer particular difficulties due to the size of the enterprise or for other reasons. The candidate must pass the examination of professional competence as authorised public accountant (högre revisorsexamen) arranged by the Supervisory Board of Public Accountants.
Ggodkänd Revisor students must hold bachelor´s degree of at least 120 points with a focus on business administration. Having had three years of practical training under the supervision of an authorised or approved public accountant and worked on audits of annual accounts of companies and groups of companies or similar financial statements, students must pass an examination of professional competence as approved public accountant (revisorsexamen).
Students typically spend 3- 4 years preparing and taking a series of ten written exams and one oral exam, but recent changes means that students can take the exams within a shorter period of time.
Title: Certified Public Accountant
To qualify for the title CPA, candidates must first have completed a BA degree in economics, law or management, and have completed two years of practical training under the supervision of a CPA. Candidates must then sit seven exams and score at least 60 out of a possible 100. There are currently around 400 licensed CPAs in Turkey.
Title: Certified International Professional Accountant (‘CIPA’)
Students must first pass the Certified Accounting Practitioner exam (‘CAP’), which confirms an understanding of the basic principles and practices of accounting.
The final examination requires students to pass a series of exams and demonstrate three years of work experience within a recognised practice firm.
Additional Qualification Information:
CPA Students must complete a program of study in accounting at a college or university before passing the CPA Examination. Students must also obtain a certain amount of professional work experience in public accounting, although this is not required in all states.
The ACCA is the largest global accountancy body with over 320,000 members and the organisation provides an ‘IFRS stream’ and a ‘UK stream’. Students must pass a total of 14 exams, which are arranged across three papers. In addition to the examinations, students must gain a minimum of three years supervised, relevant practical experience; satisfy the minimum competence requirements for membership and maintain a Student Training Record.
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
The CISA is the generally accepted standard of achievement among information systems audit, control and security professionals.
Students must pass the CISA examinations on subjects including the IS Audit process and Business Process Evaluation and Risk Management. A minimum of five years professional experience is required for certification. A relevant university degree can contribute 1- 2 years towards this total.
In addition, members must agree to the body’s code of professional ethics and commit to a Continuous Professional Education Policy.
Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
Students take a total of four examinations. Students who already hold a qualification such as the ACCA or the CFA are usually exempt from all but the fourth and final exam.