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IFA press release


The Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA), part of the world’s largest professional accounting group dedicated to small and medium-sized enterprises and small and medium-sized practices, celebrates 100 years of supporting the SME sector.

  • In response to industry demand, the IFA announces a new assurance module as a stand-alone qualification in addition to its existing suite of qualifications.
  • Launch of in-depth research project will assess true impact of FRS 102 on SME sector.
  • Academic research by IPA Deakin University Research Centre in Australia will examine the growth of SMEs in the UK.

Today (Monday, 12 September 2016) members from around the world join representatives from HM Treasury and HMRC, academics and other dignitaries to mark 100 years since the formation of the Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) at a celebration lunch at the House of Commons in London.

Since its humble beginnings as the Institute of Book-keepers, formed during the First World War, the IFA has steadily evolved to become a global accounting force.

In 2014 it joined with Australia’s Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) to create the IPA Group, the largest professional accounting group in the world dedicated to serving small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small- and medium-sized accountancy practices (SMPs).

The group boasts 35,000 members and students across more than 80 countries.

At its inception, on 16 September 1916, the purpose of the Institute was “to elevate the status and procure the advancement of interests of book-keepers” and “to encourage a greater degree of efficiency in those engaged in book-keeping”. These values have been core to the body ever since.

In 1937 the Institute was the first accounting body to introduce mechanised book-keeping (an early form of computerised book-keeping) to its syllabus. It has also gone through several name changes in response to the changing nature of accountancy.

Reflecting the increasing computerisation of business processes in the 1960s and 1970s, for a time the organisation was known as the Institute of Administrative Accounting and Data Processing, settling on its current title in 1987.

Commenting on the centenary, John Edwards, the IFA’s CEO, praised the IFA’s role in raising standards among accountants in the SME sector and developing qualifications that are relevant to, and valued by, members.

He said: “I am incredibly proud of what the IFA has achieved over the past 100 years, from gaining Ofqual accreditation and full membership of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) to the recent amalgamation with the Institute of Public Accountants in Australia, creating the IPA Group.

“While we are celebrating today, we are certainly not resting on our laurels. We will continue to support the SME sector, which faces a period of uncertainty due to Brexit, by providing the technical and compliance advice our members require and by lobbying and influencing those who can bring about change, whether that is the Treasury, HMRC or the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).”

New assurance module for AFA/FFA qualification

The IFA’s determination to equip its members and students with the right tools and qualifications to keep up with developments in modern accountancy is still evident 100 years after its foundation. Today it announces the introduction of an assurance module as a stand-alone qualification in addition to its existing suite of qualifications.

Anne Davis, Head of Regulation and Policy for the IFA, said stakeholders ranging from business owners and managers to investors, lenders, governments and regulators were increasingly demanding confidence in information, processes and reporting.

She said: “Lenders and owners may need assurance on the business sustainability of an organisation. Management may need assurance on the risk, internal controls and processes of the organisation. Regulators may need assurance that the statutory accounts or reports being submitted for a particular sector or industry comply with their requirements.

“The IFA has recognised this need for assurance and the opportunities for independent professional accountants, such as our members, to meet this need. Therefore, we are launching an assurance module in 2017 that will further enhance the competency of our members and students in this area.”

Research project on FRS 102

Championing the needs of SMEs and SMPs also remains at the forefront of the IFA’s mission with the Institute announcing a large-scale research project, in partnership with Worcester University. The project, due to complete in early 2017, will examine the impact of FRS 102, The Financial Reporting Standard Applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland, which is effective for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015.

Anne Davis said: “The IFA’s focus is to support SMPs and SMEs, both of which are affected by the transition and implementation issues resulting from the first year of implementation of FRS 102. So we are well placed to get their views. To conduct the research, we have partnered with Worcester University, which has a keen interest and knowledge in this area.”

The IFA will feed back its findings as part of the FRC’s three-yearly review of accounting standards.

IPA Deakin University Research Centre

Following the establishment and success of the IPA-Deakin University SME Research Partnership, the IPA and Deakin University (Victoria, Australia) have agreed to increase the scope of the research to create the IPA Deakin University Research Centre.

The research centre will drive applied academic research in relation to small- and medium-sized enterprises and will have an expanded reference to examine the growth of SMEs in the UK. The principal publication of the research centre will be the Small Business White Paper.

Andrew Conway, IPA Group CEO, said: “This exciting initiative adds clear value to members in the UK and has arisen as a direct result of the formation of the IPA Group. I will be the centre’s co-director and I look forward to ensuring the voice of small business is louder, well resourced and informed.

“This is a significant development in the research capability of the IPA Group, which will benefit IFA members directly.”

About the IFA

At the IFA, we put SMEs first, recognising their role as vital wealth creators, as employers to more than half of the UK’s private-sector workforce and as the power behind vibrant urban and rural communities.

We hold the interests of SMPs in the accounting profession in equal regard. We are proud of our unique relationship with our members, who predominantly come from an SME/SMP background.

As a professional accountancy body, we aim to provide the very best support and guidance to our members who operate within this arena, frequently tailoring policies and recommendations to meet the unique challenges and trading relationships associated with smaller business.

Our aim is to continuously meet the needs of SMEs within the UK and throughout the international market. We offer a range of services and benefits that have been specifically considered as part our focus on supporting our members within the SME/SMP sector. These include:

  • professional finance qualifications;
  • industry news and technical resources;
  • advice, support and guidance;
  • CPD courses and training; and
  • national events and local branch meetings.

Our core values

  • Standard-setting: demonstrating the highest standards of professionalism, reliability, and customer service.
  • Professional: responding to members’ challenges with consistently relevant, commercially-focused advice.
  • Enterprising: innovative and commercial thinking.
  • Dynamic: agile and responsive, no matter the speed or magnitude of changes in the business environment or economic climate.
  • Ethical: championing integrity, fairness, diversity, transparency and responsibility.