Not just reloaded, but renewed for a renowned designation:
‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new’ – Socrates
As organisations globally embrace the future with efficiencies and the implementation of 4IR initiatives, the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) has identified a need to upgrade its competency-based assessment programme for those who want to qualify as registered auditors (RAs). This move will equip registered candidate auditors (RCAs) with the necessary skills to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the following characteristics:
- Professional competence and judgement
- Ethical values, and
- Lifelong learning skills and strategic approaches
The Audit Development Programme (ADP) was launched in 2015 after SAICA replaced the audit-focused and specialist Public Practice Examination (PPE) with the Assessment of Professional Competence examination (APC). That meant that the ADP was developed to replace the PPE and contribute to the IRBA’s mandate of public protection by ensuring that all RAs are competent at entry to the profession. There are no exams on the ADP and candidates are assessed through the submission of a portfolio of evidence (PoE), which primarily focuses on audit experience obtained by the candidates while on the programme.
In essence, the ADP is a period of specialisation undertaken by professional accountants who want to become RAs. It provides a context in which the consolidated capabilities developed in the training programme can be refined in a more complex learning environment and in performing roles more senior to those undertaken in the training programme.
The strength of the ADP is that it requires collaborative efforts between firms and the IRBA, and these can be witnessed through the ADP monitoring process. The purpose of monitoring is to assess whether the environment in which the RCAs are trained is suitable to producing competent RAs. The IRBA therefore seeks to work with audit firms and ensure that RCAs are provided with sufficient opportunities, within a quality environment, to develop their audit competence to a point where they can themselves provide professional services to their clients, employees and the public at large.
By implementing a recognised core assessment programme, potential RAs are given the opportunity to upskill, specialise and experience exponential growth in the auditing profession.
The professional development programme comprises three aspects:
- A recognised academic programme (university degree)
- A recognised core assessment programme (ITC), and
- A recognised professional development programme (APC + a training contract)
On successful completion of all the above programmes, a candidate is eligible to enter the ADP. The programme competencies are achieved in a managerial position through gaining exposure while the candidate is responsible for reviewing audit engagement sections completed.
ADP requirements for candidates with an audit elective
The following form the acceptance criteria for those ADP candidates who have an audit elective:
- Minimum term of 18 months (30 months for non-audit elective candidates)
- Minimum of 1 500 productive hours (2 250 productive hours for non-audit elective candidates)
- A developmental ADP monitoring visit at the RA firm where the exposure is being obtained (to assess compliance with ISQC 1 and evaluate whether the firm environment is conducive to producing quality RAs)
- Technical and non-technical competencies to be achieved over the required duration and submitted as part of a PoE for assessment by the IRBA
Also, candidates who have prior managerial experience at an audit firm but were previously not registered on the ADP may reduce their ADP period by applying for up to a maximum of 12 months’ recognition of prior learning (RPL). This is evaluated on a candidate-by-candidate basis.
What the future holds
The IRBA’s Education and Transformation (ET) team embarked on an ADP research project in 2019 (four years after implementation) to review the programme, identify areas of improvement, and ultimately recommend solutions to improve the ADP processes. The research project involved the processes set out in the graphic below.
ADP Reloaded is not a new programme; it’s rather a strengthened ADP that now has the following exciting initiatives:
- Restructured PoE reports to focus on the competency framework, resulting in streamlined non-repetitive templates that are efficient and time saving
- Faster turnaround time in terms of obtaining feedback from the IRBA and PoE panel members
- Extensive training provided to the oversight registered auditors (ORAs) and RCAs once a candidate enrols on the ADP, with continuous support while on the programme
- The IRBA is also in the process of digitising the ADP through an online learner management system
The ADP Reloaded project is crucial and will progress over an extended period. The improvements and revised initiatives will be implemented through a phased-in approach. Each phase will be communicated to all the stakeholders and relevant training will be provided accordingly. ADP Reloaded will streamline the ADP process and administration, as well as address the concerns and challenges raised during the review of the current programme. In addition, ADP Reloaded will result in an efficient and effective progression of RCAs through the ADP pipeline.
The IRBA is excited about ADP Reloaded, because it will ensure that RCAs and ORAs have an improved experience. Look out for more communications regarding ADP Reloaded as we embark on this fulfilling journey of responding to the needs of our stakeholders. Contact the IRBA ADP team on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and a presentation.
Nadine Kater MBA, Director: Education and Transformation, Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA)