4 Steps to Becoming a CA (Chartered Accountant) in Atlantic Canada
- Prerequisites and Undergraduate Education in the Atlantic Provinces
- School of Business Modules and Experience in the Atlantic Provinces
- Uniform Evaluation in the Atlantic Provinces
- Apply for Membership in the Atlantic Provinces
For Chartered Accountants (CAs), the Atlantic region in Canada consists of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Bermuda. For this region, the Atlantic School of Chartered Accountancy (ASCA) delivers the postgraduate education required for the CA designation. Preparation for the CA designation requires completing a bachelor’s degree program, and an internship program while completing postgraduate study. The steps to register for the program are:
1. Satisfy the Educational Prerequisites
Enroll in a bachelor’s degree program through an approved university and take courses in the following subjects:
- Introductory Financial Accounting
- Business Law
- Cost Accounting, Planning & Budgeting
- Management Information Systems
- Intermediate Financial Accounting
- Accounting Theory
- Introductory Auditing
- Advanced Financial Accounting
- Tax Technical
ASCA actually offers university level undergraduate course specific to perquisites 8 – 11 listed above to help prospective CAs meet undergraduate requirements. These courses are only available through ASCA if there are enough registrants to justify holding class. If you have taken the course from an approved university, you are exempt from taking them through ASCA.
You can check whether the courses offered through your university qualify for exemptions here. If you studied at a university not listed on the page, contact ASCA at (902) 425-7974 or email@example.com to find out about the exemptions you qualify for. The schedule for the courses offered by ASCA can be accessed here.
The courses in financial accounting, auditing, management accounting, finance, accounting theory and taxation are considered core courses. In order to receive an exemption in a core course, you need to achieve a minimum grade in addition to passing the course. The minimum grades depend on the university and are also listed on the course exemption by university page linked above. For universities not listed on this page, please contact ASCA.
In addition to the degree, you would complete 30 months of practical training experience with an approved CA office to be eligible for registration with ASCA.
Another way to register with ASCA is through the mature student provision. You may be eligible to register with ASCA as a mature student if you:
- Possess a high school diploma
- Five years of relevant work experience, or 3 years of work experience and 2 years of full-time post-secondary education
- Qualify for exemption from the Introductory Financial Accounting, Economics and Business Law requirements
- Are employed with an approved CA training office
If you utilize this provision, you would apply directly to the provincial Chartered Accountant Institute where you live.
If you studied at a foreign university/institution, or are not sure which exemptions you qualify for, please contact ASCA.
2. Meet the Experience and ASCA Registration Requirements
After meeting the education requirements, the next step is to register with ASCA.
a. Secure employment with an approved CA training office (CATO). The ASCA program requires a competency-based practical experience from all its students. The minimum requirement is to complete 30 months/129 weeks of practical training in an approved CA office/firm. You can contact your provincial CA institute for a list of approved CATOs. The list of approved CATOs or the contact information pages for the provincial institutes are located here:
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia
- New Brunswick Institute of Chartered Accountants
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Newfoundland and Labrador
- The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Prince Edward Island
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda
You must develop and demonstrate two kinds of competencies as a CA student:
- Pervasive Qualities and Skills: As the name suggests, these qualities are not task specific. A CA brings these qualities to all tasks that s/he engages in. All chartered accountants are required to develop these qualities and skills:
- Ethical Behavior and Professionalism
- Personal Attributes
- Professional Skills
- Specific Competencies: Specific competencies are related to the area of practice you choose to focus on. You may choose to focus on developing depth in any competency area from the following list. Depth is defined as the ability to show proficiency and independence in all of the specific competencies within the competency area. Based on the competency area you choose for developing depth, you would also develop breadth in two other competencies. Breadth means independence and proficiency in at least half of the specific competencies of that area. One way to think of it is as choosing a college major (depth competency area), and based on your major, you need to choose two minors (breadth competency areas). The competency areas are:
- Performance Measurement and Reporting
- Governance, Strategy and Risk Management
- Management Decision-Making
If you, in mutual agreement with your CATO, choose to develop depth in Performance Measurement and Reporting (PM&R) or Assurance, you can choose any competency for developing breadth. If PM&R is not your depth competency area, then it must be one of the breadth areas. Please note that you only need to develop three specific competencies for satisfying the breadth requirement for PM&R. These three specific competencies are:
- Evaluating the impact of alternative and/or new accounting standards/policies
- Reviewing, proposing or accounting for the entity’s transactions, including complex transactions
- Preparing and/or reviewing financial statements and accompanying notes
It is worth noting that the practical experience requirements for CA qualification are different from the requirements for practicing public accounting. In order to qualify for practice, you need to choose assurance as the depth area, develop specific competencies on particular types of assignments and satisfy the following chargeable hours requirements:
- Minimum 2,500 chargeable hours in 129 weeks/30 months
- At least 1,250 hours in the 2,500 hours should be in assurance
- At least 625 hours from the assurance hours should be in audit if you want an audit certification
- Minimum 100 hours must be in taxation (Bermuda doesn’t have this requirement)
b. Complete the record of CA qualifying experience (RQE) form.
c. Register with ASCA. For application, contact Terry Arthur at (902) 429-4462 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The competency based experience form needs to be filled out and sent with the application. If you commenced employment before September 1, 2009 or are part of a co-op program, you’ll find the relevant experience forms here.
d. Submit your application and transcripts directly to ASCA. You can either email completed registration and Remittance Advice forms with credit card payment to email@example.com or mail them to:
Atlantic School of Chartered Accountancy
Suite 500, Cogswell Tower
PO Box 489
Please note that registration with ASCA does not automatically register you in a module. See program requirements below for information about the program modules.
e. Fulfill ASCA program requirements. The ASCA education includes professional courses/modules delivered to the students. Depending on the modules, they can be primarily face-to-face with an internet component or largely internet based with a face-to-face aspect. You need to take and pass the professional courses/modules offered by ASCA in order to qualify for taking the Uniform Evaluation (UFE). It is worth noting that you need to have completed all the university level courses or received approval as a mature student before you can take any professional level course.
The fee for the professional courses is $825 for Modules 1 – 4 and $1600 for the Finalist Preparation Program (FPP).
The ASCA program is comprised of 5 modules and the modules are offered in spring, summer, fall and winter sessions. The current schedule for professional programs can be found here.
Module 1 starts with a 3 day face to face workshop in summer and is followed by 6 weeks of online instruction. Performance Measurement and Reporting and Assurance are emphasized. It concludes with a 10 day face to face session in Halifax, NS.
Module 2 is offered in the fall and emphasizes Finance in relation to all specific competency areas. The tutorials are offered online and the session concludes with a three-day face-to-face workshop.
Module 3 is focused on Finance and Taxation. It is offered online in the winter and ends with a three-day long live workshop.
Module 4 is also offered online and concludes with a three-day live session. It is the final step in the professional courses and utilizes all competency areas that you learned.
ASCA prepares you for the Uniform Evaluation (UFE) by offering a finalist preparation program (FPP). FPP is offered in summer in a live session and emphasizes the exam writing skill. It involves a lot of instructor feedback during classroom sessions and concludes with an internet-based session.
3. Take the Uniform Evaluation (UFE)
After completing the education, experience and professional course requirements (including the ASCA’s finalist preparation program), you are prepared for the national Uniform Evaluation (UFE). The UFE is a three day exam held every September where you demonstrate your understanding of the skills and specific competencies you acquired through the ASCA program. The first day of the exam involves a comprehensive case evaluation and the next two days consist of questions spanning multiple subjects. Results of the UFE are released in late November or early December.
UFE is set and administered by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). You are required to pass the UFE before you can apply for membership in the chartered accountant institute of your province. More information about the UFE can be found on the CICA website here and the relevant downloadable publications can be accessed here.
4. Become a Member of the Provincial CA Institutes
After completing the ASCA academic and professional program, practical experience requirements and obtaining a passing grade on the UFE, you are eligible to apply for membership in one of the provincial institutes. All mature students need to obtain approval from their provincial institute of CAs (PICA) to apply through by way of the mature student qualification. Although most requirements for membership are the same in all provinces, there are some variations as noted below.
- Nova Scotia: Membership in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia (ICANS) can be obtained by virtue of your affiliation with another provincial institute of CAs (PICA). The membership application by affiliation requires a letter in good standing from your current PICA, two letters of recommendation from ICANS or CAs in your PICA, and membership dues.
You can report your continuing professional development hours for Nova Scotia on here.
- New Brunswick: New Brunswick Institute of Chartered Accountants (NBICA) offers the opportunity to Francophone graduates to obtain their practical experience. If you are a Francophone graduate from Université de Moncton and have completed your licentiate from any Quebec university, you are eligible to obtain your 30 month practical experience requirements in an approved office in New Brunswick.
You can make declaration regarding compliance with your mandatory professional development hours here.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: The application for membership by education, experience and UFE in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Newfoundland and Labrador (ICANL) needs to be submitted along with two referral letters. The application for membership by affiliation can also be submitted along with a letter of good standing with your current institute.
You can report Continuing Professional Development hours here.
- Prince Edward Island: The membership information can be found here.
- Bermuda: You can log professional development hours here.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
CAs are required to complete a minimum of 120 hours of CPD every three years, of which at least 60 hours must be verifiable (or structured). The minimum annual CPD requirement is 20 hours of CPD, with at least 10 hours out of 20 being verifiable. The CPD reporting period is from January 1st through December 31st of the second calendar year (e.g. January 1st 2009 – December 31st 2011). The CPD reporting should be done by January 31st of every year.
The provincial institutes offer CPD opportunities, as do a number of other organizations.
Consider specializing in one of the many available CA specializations. They create a niche for you as a CA and improve your marketability and business acumen. You can contact your provincial CA institute for details. Some popular specializations include:
- Investigative and Forensic Accounting
- Information Technology
- Business Valuation
- Internal Auditing
- Information Systems Auditing
- Management Consulting
- Corporate Governance
- Financial Planning