The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has been a generous host to several of our groups this summer. ICAEW is a professional membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports chartered accountants and students across the world. This institution was formed in 1880 and now boasts 153,000 members across 148 countries.

We caught up with Thao Bui, their Global Student Recruitment Manager for some great insight into the career path of a chartered accountant in ICAEW.

IL: How does a professional qualification, like ACA, help students stand out in today’s extremely competitive job market?

TB: Unlike academic degrees a professional qualification like ICAEW ACA qualification involves an element of practical training which helps students to develop their professional skills and to be ready to work. ICAEW ACA qualification is an internationally recognised business qualification and to qualify as an ICAEW chartered accountant a student would need to complete at least three years of training on the job plus passing all the exams and also commit to continuing professional development. Completing the ACA qualification would enable students to use the ICAEW Chartered Accountant title offering a way to stand out from the crowd, by providing the employers with a specific and certified skill set. ACA qualification is highly valued by businesses world-wide with over 6,000 employers training the ACA students.

IL: ICAEW is a global institute. Can you explain a bit more about this?

TB: Over the past 11 years ICAEW has transformed itself to become an international professional body and to achieve that we established four international regions. We now have offices in places such as Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Dubai as well as Brussels and not forgetting the UK. Between 2006 and 2016 we grew our membership by 15% and our student numbers by over 120%, including a seven-fold increase in students outside the UK. We now have 153,000 members working across 148 countries.

IL: What are the most important skills for a chartered accountant to master in their professional life?

TB: There is a wide range of skills that are developed and assessed within the ACA qualification and they are all very highly valued. They include communications; the ACA student will be able to communicate effectively at all levels using oral and written presentation skills to achieve positive outcomes. Another skill is problem-solving; they have to be able to identify a problem and then generate options and make recommendations in order to arrive at appropriate solutions. Another important skill area involves ethics and professionalism. This means behaving ethically and sustainably, while respecting others and upholding the values of the organisation and the accountancy profession. Other skills include adding value, technical competence, decision-making and teamwork.

IL: How important is commercial awareness for a student?

TB: Employers now talk a lot about commercial awareness and yet some students are unsure of the meaning of this term. Commercial awareness refers to candidates’ general knowledge of business, their business or work experience and ultimately their understanding of the industry to which they are applying. Commercial awareness is so important because having it demonstrates commitment, professionalism and general intelligence. In an interview it shows the interviewer that the candidate is really keen on the opportunity and for a graduate it demonstrates that you are ready to work in the business world.

IL: What are the pre-requisites for studying ACA?

TB: There are quite a few entry requirements for a student wanting to study for the ACA qualification. It also depends on where the student comes from and which route they are following. All the details can be found on our website – icaew.com. However, from my point of view commitment and dedication are the two outstanding pre-requisites that students need if they want to take the ACA qualification.


We extend our warmest thank you to all at ICAEW for hosting our student groups this summer from around the world. It was a privilege for our groups to visit the beautiful office and to their questions answered about professional accountancy qualifications.

Looking to support your students in their future career path? Get in touch via contact@insider-london.co.uk to start arranging your company visit.