New qualification unveiled by CIPFA

If it wasn’t an already exciting time to be an accountant in the public sector, it’s certainly about to be. CIPFA has launched its updated and refreshed flagship accountancy qualification – The CIPFA Professional Accountancy Qualification, or PAQ for short.

CIPFA told PQ magazine that in today’s fast-moving environment, the accountants of tomorrow need to stay ahead. The updated qualification will place a greater emphasis on emerging digital technologies, cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, to equip its students with the skills they are likely to need both today and well into the future. And as finance professionals become increasingly central to the effort of protecting our places and the planet, sustainability, green finance, environmental reporting and performance measures also now feature across the modules.

The institute promised that as always students will be at the heart of the new course. It is introducing a new e-learning platform, which will enable students to learn in a way that best suits them. They will be free to study in a more independently minded way, or to choose to study in a way that ensures more face-to-face time with their classmates. The platform will also provide access to health and wellbeing support through trained mental first aiders and an online wellbeing hub.

The current qualification offered by CIPFA has always been known by two names – the Professional Qualification (PQ) in the UK, and the International Public Financial Management qualification (IPFM) outside of the UK. The updated PAQ will be recognised both here in the UK and internationally under the one name, better reflecting CIPFA’s international outlook and reach.

The PAQ will run alongside the PQ and IPFM, beginning with the new intake of students in March 2022, before eventually replacing the pre-2022 programmes in coming years. Current PQ and IPFM students will not have their studies disrupted and will remain on their current programmes.

It is not just the name which has changed. Another significant change is how the course will now be structured, with it being divided into one certificate and three diplomas, along with a pre-learning module on ethics. The new ethics module will be mandatory and will hopefully act as a reference bank for students throughout the rest of the course.

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO told PQ magazine: The work of a Chartered Public Finance Accountant is both more complex and more critical to the public sector than at any point in our history.

“At the heart of our mission to build trust by strengthening public financial management is CIPFA’s Professional Accountancy Qualification.

“I am immensely proud of CIPFA’s Professional Accountancy Qualification. These most recent changes cement its position as the key qualification for those charged with delivering sustainable public value.”