November 2022

We take a look at the Financial Reporting Council’s annual report on the state of the accountancy profession.

If you are just joining the profession, it will be good to know you are not alone!

Did you know, for instance, that there is a qualified accountant in the UK and Republic of Ireland* for every 186 people?

If you add those studying into the mix there are over half-a-million members and students in the profession, just on these two islands.

The body count

Membership of the accountancy bodies continues to grow. The seven bodies** in the report have nearly 390,000 members in the UK and ROI, and over 590,000 members worldwide. The growth in membership between 2020 and 2021 was 2.1% in the UK and ROI, and 2.8% worldwide.

So, while there are 135,681 ICAEW members in the UK and ROI, ACCA has 106,561 members and CIMA 85,517. ACCA leapfrogs ICAEW when worldwide figures are added in – ACCA has 236,827 members and the ICAEW has 161,411. CIMA also has 116,302 members worldwide.

There are nearly 162,000 accountancy students in the UK and ROI, and over 597,000 worldwide. Between 2020 and 2021, student numbers increased by 0.3% in the UK and ROI, and by 1.6% worldwide. UK and ROI student numbers fell slightly for ACCA (-1.3%) and CIMA in 2021 (-1.7%) and worldwide student numbers also fell for CIMA (-5.2%).

ACCA with 75,188 students in the UK and ROI leads the way here, with CIMA on 47,101 and ICAEW with 25,014 PQs. The gap is bigger when you look at the worldwide figures – ACCA has 446,232 students, CIMA has 93,690, and ICAEW has 33,958.

The figures show that 97% of AIA and 83% of ACCA students were based outside the UK and ROI. In contrast, ICAS and CAI had 1% or less of its students based outside the UK and ROI.
That all means just 27% of all students from the accountancy bodies were studying in the UK and ROI.

Does age count

In 2021, 39% of all students from the seven accountancy bodies were under the age of 25 compared with 38% in 2017.

ICAEW, ICAS and CAI had the highest percentage of students aged 34 or under at 97%, 96% and 88% respectively in 2021.

In comparison, CIPFA had the largest proportion of students aged 35 and over at 49%.

A question of degrees

The Irish institute, the CAI, has the highest number of graduate entrants with degree at 91%. It also has the highest number of grads with relevant degrees too (77%).

At the other end, 14% of CIPFA students have a relevant degree and just 27% have a degree of any some sort.

Women on the rise

Since 2017, all the accountancy bodies have increased their percentage of female members worldwide. AIA experienced the largest increase of 3 percentage points, in this period (from 34% to 37%). ACCA continues to have the highest percentage of female members of all the accountancy bodies, at 48%. The ICAEW retains its title as the professional body with least female members with just 30%. That said, the overall percentage of female members worldwide has increased from 36% in 2017 to 37% in 2021.

The overall percentage of female students is 50% (for the third year in a row). ACCA had the largest percentage of female students in 2021 at 60%. Both CIPFA and AIA also have more female students than male at 56% and 51% respectively. ICAS seems to have the hardest problem attracting women with a female intake of 43% in 2021.

This will mean the ICAS will struggle to increase female membership numbers above its current 35% rate.

For all the stats go to

*Figures for the Republic of Ireland and UK are included together in the report.
** The seven bodies in the report are: ACCA, AIA, CAI, CIMA, CIPFA, ICAEW and ICAS.