Competency-based professional accounting certification in New Zealand

William D. J. Cotton
Gregory W. Scott

Abstract: In New Zealand, a unique and totally new competency-based accounting certification program was installed effectively in 1998. It is titled Professional Accounting School and Professional Competence Examination 2 (PAS/PCE2). This program seeks to develop eight higher level competencies required of a candidate for admission to the profession by building on a candidate’s existing knowledge and workplace experience within the fields of accounting and business. This study reports the results of a mail questionnaire survey of program graduates and their supervisors to assess the degree of success of the New Zealand program in enhancing these higher-level competencies. The study addressed the question, “Does PAS/PCE2 improve demonstration in the workplace of the eight specified competencies at a level expected of a recently qualified chartered accountant?” The results suggest that the program has achieved a considerable degree of success. A majority of graduate respondents perceived that the program had caused a moderate to significant improvement in their demonstration of all eight competencies. The perceptions of success in responses from supervisors were marginally lower than for graduates, but were still strong. While the strongest influence on competency development reported by graduates and supervisors was on-the-job training, PAS/PCE2 ranked quite highly, especially on the dimensions of integrating accounting sub-discipline and general business discipline knowledge.