For those who haven’t had much to do with accounting and finance industry, the assortment of accounting terms like Chartered Accountants, ICAA, and CPA can be quite confusing.

In this article we’ll cover what ICAA members, Chartered Accountants and CPAs are. But first and foremost; they’re all accountants.


An accountant’s role is to measure, process and communicate financial information about businesses, personal finances, organisations, governments or any party that has some form of financial property. To become an accountant in Australia you must either complete a university degree in accounting, or a diploma in accounting through a recognised institution.

While accountants may be responsible for functions beyond that of finances, there are still four main areas that are the responsibility of accountants.

Financial Accounting; the management of financial records for a business or individual, and providing reports on these records.

Management Accounting; the analysis of a business’ reports and results. The main focus of management accounting is in reporting to the management team for the collation of budgets and forecasts so they can make informed decisions.

Auditing; an auditing accountant checks financial reports, collecting evidence to support the numbers in the reports and providing an informed opinion on the results.

Tax Accountants; prepare documentation for taxation legislation, either for individual tax returns, or to structure businesses to operate most efficiently from a tax perspective.

In Australia accountants are usually separated into two professional bodies, either the Certified Practicing Accountants (CPA), or the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia (ICAA).

Certified Practicing Accountants

To become a Certified Practicing Accountant you must have a recognised undergraduate degree and complete the CPA program. The extensive CPA program includes postgraduate studies, three years of industry experience under a CPA mentor, and Continuing Professional Development of 120 hours in every three year period. To practice public accountancy, completion of the CPA’s Public Practice Program is also required.

Chartered Accountants

Chartered Accountants are those who are certified with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia. The requirements are much the same as that of CPAs; they have to have a university degree, undertake postgraduate studies, as well as three years of industry experience under an ICAA mentor.


Essentially, both Chartered Accountants and CPAs are accountants offering a high standard of professionalism and experience. If you’d like to talk about what our CPAs can do for you, don’t hesitate to call 07 5512 6106 or fill out a contact form online.