CIPFA compliance with the Professional Qualifications Act

These are the requirements placed on individuals to enter or remain in the profession.

Section 8 of the Professional Qualifications Act came into effect on 28 October 2022 and requires regulators to publish information about the requirements they place on individuals to enter or remain in the profession.

These are the requirements placed on individuals to enter or remain in the profession.

To gain entry onto the Professional Accountancy Qualification

This qualification is designed for students aged 18 plus. The minimum requirements for studying CIPFA’s Professional Qualification at all levels are as follows: 

  • Three GCSEs, grades A to C (or grades 4 and up), and two A-Levels, grades A to C, or accepted equivalent.
  • Scottish, Northern and Southern Ireland equivalents are also accepted. Subjects must include Maths and English at either level.
  • BTEC and SCOTVEC national diplomas are also accepted.
  • The minimum vocational requirement is NVQ/GNVQ level 3, or Scottish equivalent.

Students who do not meet the academic requirements, can still study if they are 21 or over and have their employer's support and more than three year relevant work experience.

But note one important exception - UK students who follow the audit pathway (CIPFA Diploma in Public Financial Management, Reporting and Advanced Audit (UK)) and are working for a CIPFA-approved training employer and who do not meet the academic requirements may still study if they are 21 or over, have their employer's support and have seven years of relevant work experience. This ruling is defined by the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

Qualification Structure

The CIPFA Professional Accountancy Qualification (PAQ) is made up of 12 modules which are completed in four stages: a certificate and three diplomas.

Those looking to complete the Audit pathway will complete the Diploma in Public Financial Management, Reporting and Advanced Audit(UK), this pathway is suitable for those who:

  • work as experienced auditors and wish to formalise their CIPFA qualification
  • wish to be a registered local auditor according to the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014

Further information about the audit pathway.

Exemptions and exams

Students registering for the CIPFA Professional Accountancy Qualification may qualify for exemptions if:

  • They have achieved relevant qualifications in the last decade from an institute of higher learning.
  • They hold an active membership from a professional awarding body.

Please note that:

  • Work experience will not be accepted as evidence of prior learning.
  • Exemptions will not be granted where students have previously failed comparable subjects at CIPFA.
  • Having exemptions from another professional awarding body does not guarantee that you will be awarded exemptions at CIPFA.

UK students who follow the audit pathway (CIPFA Diploma in Public Financial Management, Reporting and Advanced Audit (UK)) will not be eligible for exemptions in the following modules.

  • Tax and Law (UK)
  • Public Sector Financial Reporting (UK)
  • Advanced Audit (UK)
  • Strategic Public Financial Management (UK)

All exemptions are reviewed on an individual basis and confirmed in writing by the Institute.

Portfolio and work experience requirements

Students are required to produce a portfolio of learning that maps their professional development. This portfolio includes:

A log or record on which the student must record the details of 400 days of validated workplace experience, logged and detailed against 8 areas defined within CIPFA's Statement of Expertise.

Students are also required to demonstrate achievement of 10 skills and behaviours which are considered key to the work of a professional accountant. This is an opportunity for students to demonstrate that they have gained the a) professional knowledge, b) professional skills, and c) professional values.

UK students who follow the audit pathway (CIPFA Diploma in Public Financial Management, Reporting and Advanced Audit (UK)) will be required to submit a log of 450 days of validated workplace experience.

Application Process for membership

Completion of CIPFA Qualifications

Following the completion of exams and portfolio, graduates can apply for full membership via an online application form.

Members of another accountancy body (including international applicants)

In order to be admitted as a full member via this route, the applicant must demonstrate at least 5 years relevant post qualification public sector experience and be a full, current member of good standing with another accountancy body, as recognised by CIPFA.

To view the number of applications received for CIPFA membership please click here

Remaining in the profession

To remain in the profession, CIPFA members must ensure they adhere to the following requirements:

Membership Fees

CIPFA annual membership fees are due on 1 January each year. Notices are sent to members in November to advise them to renew for the year ahead. Failure to pay membership fees can result in expulsion from the institute.

Annual Member Statement (AMS)

Professionally qualified members are required to confirm their participation annually by completing an Annual Member Statement (AMS), which is located in their MyCIPFA area of the CIPFA website. The AMS is available from November (when membership subscription renewals are issued). The AMS must be completed and submitted by 31 March each year.

Note, only full Chartered Members (CPFA and FCPFA) are required to complete an Annual Member Statement (AMS).

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

CIPFA Chartered Members are required to participate in CIPFA’s continuing professional development (CPD) scheme to meet the recommendations set out by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). This flexible scheme also caters to members who work inside and outside mainstream accountancy and audit roles.

Members are required to complete at least 20 hours of verifiable CPD activities over a 12-month period. They are also expected to reflect on the learning they have undertaken and the outputs that they have achieved.

Key Audit Partners

Individuals, who sign local audit reports, within a registered local audit firm, are called key audit partners (KAPs). The detailed eligibility requirements are set by the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. The FRC has issued guidance to Recognised Supervisory Bodies on the approval of Key Audit Partners for local audit. The guidance includes a requirement to:

  • hold an appropriate qualification;
  • Local Auditor status
  • meet relevant eligibility criteria; and
  • be nominated by the firm as a key audit partner.

ICAEW is a Recognised Supervisory Body and is responsible for the licensing, registering, and monitoring of auditors who wish to carry out audits of local public bodies.

Disciplinary Action Information Sharing

In accordance with Section 9 and Section 10 of the Professional Qualifications Act 2022, where a CIPFA member or registered student entitled to practise in the UK is seeking to practise in either another part of the UK or overseas then CIPFA’s Disciplinary Scheme will share information that they hold relating to any disciplinary action, including sanction, about that individual with the relevant UK or overseas regulator.

The information sharing will be undertaken in compliance with data protection legislation and the member’s consent will be required for the sharing of any information with an overseas regulator.