The ICAO redeems my faith in humanity, and the accounting profession in Ontario
No doubt in direct response to my last post, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario has just announced a wonderfully charitable and clever rule change for CA students who aren't currently employed by a CA firm.
Clearly the snark worked its magic
Until now, if you wanted to write the CA accounting exams in Ontario, you had to be employed by an approved CA training office - a "CATO".
With the recent wave of layoffs and the resulting shortage of vacancies at CATOs, it's been understandably difficult for many people to sign up, get their work experience, and the associated ability to sit for the UFE, and the qualifying CKE and SOA exams.
And the ICAO has realized this, admitting just as much in their official announcement:
"In recognition of the difficulty that a significant number of
otherwise qualified individuals may be having in securing employment in
a CA Training Office (CATO) during the current economic downturn, the
Institute’s Council recently approved the introduction of a new Section
210 (Exemption from Employment Requirement) in Regulation I, A regulation in respect of students.
new Section 210 provides, at the Registrar’s discretion, the granting
of exemptions from the requirement to be employed in a CATO for the
purpose of registering as a student with the Institute, as a condition
for eligibility to write the Core-Knowledge Examination (CKE) or to
enroll in the School of Accountancy. This provision is a temporary
measure that will be available in times of economic downturns to assist
prospective students who are unable to obtain employment with CATOs."
Kudos to the ICAO for thinking ahead.
They can't magically conjure up jobs for students, but by not turning a blind eye to the plight of current CA students, they're ensuring that there will continue to be a ready supply of young talent ready to replace the legion of baby boomers heading towards the exits as their retirement ages approach. It takes away a metric ton of stress that would be on the shoulders of anyone who just spent four years studying to become a CA, only to get sidetracked when they couldn't find a position in their field to complete their exams.
The requirement to get real job experience before you become a "full" Chartered Accountant doesn't disappear, it merely gets postponed until you can score a job. Arguably this will be easier once you have passed your exam.
Pessimists will decry this as a potential shift in how the profession gets its talent, forcing students to write the exam before they can land a job. I'm not too concerned about that scenario - I'm going to give the Institute the benefit of the doubt and assume they'll probably remove this emergency measure once the job market stabilizes. How long until the "emergency exception period" window stays open is, therefore, an interesting question. I'll bet it'll stay open at least until the fall of 2010 to allow everyone a chance to write the UFE. At that point, the hard decisions will have to be made: did the layoffs stop, and is the job market "hot" enough again to return to normal?
It's something worth keeping an eye on, especially when you're juggling the demands of a job search with studying, but the juggling act is also something you should put on hold in the weeks leading up to the major exams to allow yourself to concentrate on passing first!
Full details on how to apply for this special status are available on their site, and you can call the Student Records group at (416) 969-4322. I like calling when I have questions rather then sending e-mails since they're quite responsive and friendly at the Institute.
Good luck to those still searching!