Changes to the practising certificate requirements

A PCEF exemption will be introduced from January 2022


For some years, ACCA has operated a Practical Experience Requirement (PER) ‘exemption’ policy for admission to membership. Under this arrangement, an ACCA Approved Employer awarded the Trainee Development (TD) stream has been assessed by ACCA as providing the required level of training, development and support to their students in order to meet their PER.

Working for an ACCA Approved Employer holding TD approval allows those trainees to claim the performance objective (PO) exemption. Students are still required to achieve three years of experience and keep a record of it in their online My Experience record. They should also record that they are claiming the PO exemption, and complete an ‘Approved Employer PER confirmation form’ confirming the achievement of the POs.

This policy has been extended to the Practising Certificate Experience Requirement (PCER) and will come into effect on 1 January 2022. The competency-based eligibility for a Practising Certificate (PC) remains in place and members will still be required to achieve three years of experience under the supervision of a suitably experienced principal, two years of which must be post-membership.

However, an exemption from completing the Practising Certificate Experience Forms (PCEF) will be available to members who have gained their experience with employers that are registered under the ACCA Approved Employer Practising Certificate Development (PCD) stream.

Instead, the member and their suitably qualified principal will complete a straightforward ‘Approved Employer PCER confirmation form’. The member will provide some basic information (eg dates of employment), sign and date the competencies (listed on the form) and provide a brief summary of how they achieved the mandatory competences.

The principal will sign a declaration that the member has achieved the relevant experience, followed the employer’s performance management and appraisal processes, and is eligible to claim PCEF exemption.

As with every PC application, every PCEF exemption application will be assessed by ACCA’s authorisation team.

Members wishing to apply for the audit qualification (AQ) will also be eligible for PCEF exemption but only for the PC element. To apply for the AQ they will still be required to complete Part 3 of the current PCEF, ie statements of achievement for the audit competencies, time summary showing their audit hours, client sectors, client sizes and six-monthly reviews.

Employers that are approved under the PCD stream are rigorously monitored by ACCA to ensure high standards that will mitigate any risk in the new process. Firms applying to train their ACCA staff towards the award of a PC are monitored within 12 months of their initial application. Thereafter, the firms are monitored on a six-year cycle. There is also a three-year renewal process.

The monitoring process confirms that the firm is meeting the requirements for approval. Following the visit, the firm receives a detailed report confirming the firm’s ACCA Approved Employer status and providing guidance to maintain its status and useful information for trainees and members.

A PCEF exemption policy represents a streamlined method of demonstrating the achievement of competencies. It is consistent with the longstanding PER exemption policy, and rigour will be maintained through Approved Employer monitoring and the  assessment carried out on every application by ACCA’s authorisation team.