Legal and tech push changes face of accountancy training

There are changes afoot in the accountancy training world, as ICAEW is revising its ACA qualification to focus more on emerging technology, and Deloitte becomes the first Big Four firm to offer graduate training contract programmes for solicitors

ICAEW has teamed up with Inflo, a provider of financial data analytics software to the accounting profession, to develop the skills required by advanced technologies, through knowledge and practical learning and examinations.

The collaboration will first focus on audit and assurance exams and will then expand into corporate reporting exams, with potential extension into other exams across the ACA qualification, recognising the relevance of data analysis techniques to a broad range of accounting services.

Mark Protherough, ICAEW executive director, learning & professional development said: ‘We plan to incorporate the use of Inflo in each of the audit and assurance and corporate reporting exams, from 2021 onwards.

‘The exam will task students with reviewing company data as well as a variety of visualisations and results from performing data analytics.

‘Students will be required to analyse and interpret the results, provide commentary, justify their actions and articulate the conclusions they draw.

‘In the corporate reporting exam, students will also be provided with advance information on a client’s interim results to read and assimilate before the exam, followed by the client’s full year being provided in the exam itself.’

ICAEW says the change is designed to ensure the exams to reflect the current and future workplace and enhance assessment of professional judgement, scepticism and the use and interpretation of data analytics. The move has been made in response to global consultations on the development of the ACA qualification to ensure it remains relevant.

Separately, Deloitte has announced the launch of new graduate training contract programme  within its UK Deloitte Legal practice, starting with the September 2020 intake who will qualify as solicitors in 2023.

Deloitte Legal has worked with the University of Law (ULaw) to develop a training programme to prepare students for the new solicitors qualifying examination (SQE), the incoming reformed solicitor qualification confirmed last year by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The new SQE training contracts enable law students to take up their place straight out of university, allowing them to start earning immediately while gaining qualifying legal work experience before sitting their SQE 1 and 2. This differs from the current arrangements where trainees do not take up their place until after they have completed an additional year studying the legal practice course (LPC).

Successful applicants will be client facing during periods of their training and will gain experience across a number of Deloitte Legal’s areas of practice including tax litigation, employment and corporate and commercial law.

Michael Castle, UK managing partner for Deloitte Legal, said: ‘We want to broaden access to the profession and make it as inclusive as possible. This is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring solicitors to earn while they learn, while also encountering the wealth of expertise beyond legal work that Deloitte Legal can offer as a multidisciplinary firm.’

As with the graduate-level training contract, Deloitte Legal will welcome apprentices onto the Level 7 solicitor apprenticeship programme delivered by the ULaw.

Deloitte Legal now has a UK headcount of more than 200 people delivering technology-enabled legal solutions in areas such as employment, litigation, corporate and commercial and immigration including more than 80 client-facing practicing lawyers.

Pat Sweet

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