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International Education Standard 8 (IES 8)

By Julia Penny

This standard took effect from July 2016. It is primarily aimed at IFAC member bodies, such as the ICAEW, but is also of relevance to firms themselves, in understanding the underlying requirements.

As you might expect, the standard requires that Engagement Partners / Responsible Individuals (RIs) must develop and maintain their professional competence. The learning outcomes that competence must be demonstrated against are set out in Table A of the standard

That table sets out a wide range of areas for competence including the following main headings:

Summary of Table A Competencies

Technical competencies

  • Audit
  • Financial reporting
  • Governance and risk management
  • Business environment
  • Taxation
  • Information technology
  • Business laws and regulations
  • Finance and financial management

Professional skills

  • Intellectual
  • Interpersonal and communication
  • Personal
  • Organisational

Professional values, ethics and attitude

  • Commitment to the public interest
  • Professional scepticism and professional judgement
  • Ethical principles

Most of the descriptions of the competencies in each of the above areas are very much what you might expect. For instance, under audit the RI must be able to “lead the identification and assessment of the risk of material misstatement, evaluate responses to those risks and the audit work performed and develop an appropriate opinion”.

Less intuitive perhaps, is what is meant by personal skills, as part of professional skills. This includes promoting and undertaking lifelong learning, acting as a role model to the engagement team and in a mentoring or coaching capacity to that team.

In order to become a Responsible Individual (audit partner) in the first place, the individual must be able to demonstrate that they hold the competencies listed above. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) must then take place to ensure the competencies in those areas are maintained.

The standard recognises that many of the skills of an RI are developed through experience and that this can be evidenced through annual self-declarations, records of chargeable time and the results of quality monitoring. 

The requirements of IES 8 are implemented for ICAEW members within the CPD requirements. Essentially this requires a member to consider these stages:

  • Reflect;
  • Act;
  • Impact;
  • Declare.

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Example

An RI might identify that they need regular updating on changes to accounting, auditing and legal issues and that they plan to achieve this through attendance at quarterly updates

With respect to keeping up to date with tax or issues such as IT, they might attend updates suitable for auditors or perhaps attend periodic meetings with the relevant internal department to understand the issues and changes.

On the professional skills side they may maintain these competencies merely by continued experience at work. However, appraisals might identify areas that need improving and these could be worked on by mentoring or soft skills courses perhaps.

Professional values and ethics might be dealt with by facilitated group discussions of areas that threaten ethical behaviour, by using video resources such as the ICAEW False Assurance and Without Question films.

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Conclusion

QAD will expect a firm to be able to demonstrate how RIs have ensured that they initially have and then maintain the competencies in Table A of IES as summarised above. When initially assessing competencies each item must formally be considered but once that is established, it is necessary to ensure that those are maintained. Whilst it might still be useful for RIs to use Table A when they carry out the “reflect” part of their CPD actions, to help them formulate their CPD plan, the focus is on what has changed. The example above shows some of the points that an RI might consider and ways of meeting those CPD requirements, but each individual must assess their own needs, with the backdrop of the list of competencies.

 

December 2017 

 

Disclaimer
This article is published with the understanding that SWAT UK Limited is not engaged in rendering legal or professional services. The material contained in this article neither purports, nor is intended to be, advice on any particular matter. This article is an aid and cannot be expected to replace professional judgment. SWAT UK accepts no responsibility or liability to any person in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by any such person in reliance, whether sole or partial, upon the whole or any part of the contents of this article.