Becoming a chartered accountant in the New Zealand Provinces

Carolyn Fowler
Sue Malthus

Abstract: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand introduced major changes to its admissions policy for Chartered Accountants in July 1995. The major changes included increasing the length of tertiary academic study and incorporating a general education element. The practical experience component of the admissions policy was changed to require candidates to undertake two years of specified experience at an organisation approved by the Institute. The “new” admissions policy also requires candidates to undertake two professional competence exams and to attend a Professional Accounting School.

This study investigates what impact, if any, these changes have had on candidates who have been admitted to the Institute under the “new” admissions policy and the candidates’ employers. This study focuses on these two major stakeholders and investigates the consequences of the changes in admissions policy on the candidates’ career choices and the employment practices of their employers. This study is exploratory and regional based in nature and involved interviewing Chartered Accountants in the Nelson region of New Zealand. Additionally, a mail survey was used to ask Commerce students and graduates whether the changes in the Institute’s admission policy had influenced their career choice.

Most of the Chartered Accountants were supportive of the Institute’s new admissions policy. Any concerns they did voice related to the small size and location of accounting firms in the Nelson region, including the high cost and time involved for employees to travel to larger centres to attend professional exams and the Professional Accounting School. Some practitioners were concerned that they would not be able to offer the range of experience required for employees to gain specified experience. Students and graduates surveyed reported the changes in the Institute’s admissions policy in 1995 had influenced them to join another accounting body or to pursue a career other than accounting.