The ACCA qualification is one of the world’s leading accounting qualifications. It is uniquely positioned to provide quality theory and practical experience necessary in this highly regulated industry.
Relevant accounting or finance experience is a must for highly sought-after professionals. However, you may have questions about what kind of experience you need and the length of it.
This article will explain what qualifies as practical experience, the performance objectives that ACCA Global requires, how to find a practical experience supervisor and what the PER audit is all about.
This will tell you all you need to know for 2023.
The ACCA Practical Experience Requirement (PER)
PER allows you to develop professional knowledge and values, ethics and behaviours needed to become a professionally qualified accountant. To become a member of ACCA, all students and affiliates must successfully complete three components:
- ACCA Exams
- The foundation module - Ethics and Professional Skills
- Practical Experience Requirement
Since this is based on the International Federation of Accountants practical experience requirements, it complies with international standards of learning and preparing new professionals for the challenges of the global workplace.
More specifically, the PER helps you to develop in the following areas:
- Repeatedly apply the knowledge and techniques you have gained in your studies and thus increasing your confidence to practice as an accountant
- Allows you to make mistakes in a supervised environment where you can learn and grow from them and mitigate the risks of financial loss for clients
- Observe real-life scenarios that help you to increase your professional attitudes and behaviors
- Allows you to develop your judgment in a safe space and reflect on the nature and quality of your work. Self-reflection and supervisor feedback allows you to improve your work performance and entrench key skills gradually.
SnapShot of the Three Components of PER
- Five essentials and four technical performance objectives signed off by your practical experience supervisor (to be discussed later in this article)
- 36 months workplace experience in one or more finance or accounting roles, also to be signed off by the supervisor
- Record your PER progress online via MyACCA
Employers expect ACCA members to show high levels of competence, a professional attitude and to behave ethically. The three components of PER help you to develop in each area and prepares you for working with clients or running your own accounting firm.
A Word About Your Tuition Provider
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Advice on Finding the Right Experience
From the onset, you should aim to find experience in a relevant company and sector that allow you experience in activities and tasks related to accounting, finance, audit and assurance. Related areas such as taxation and forensic accounting will also benefit you.
If you are partially busy with accounting-related tasks, then you can only claim some of the time that you work towards practical experience. For instance, if you spend 50% of your time on finance tasks in a year, then you will have 6 months to log on to the MyExperience page on the ACCA website
Experience gained before registering for ACCA can also qualify, if relevant. ACCA assessors can advise you on this once you register your experience.
What If I don't have Employment in a Relevant Role?
You can still log your experience in your MyExperience record on the ACCA browser. The work itself will not count towards the 36 months of work experience. However, you may achieve credits in the following performance objectives:
- Stakeholder Relationship Management
- Strategy and Innovation
- Leadership and Management
This will depend on being supervised by a suitably qualified professional who will vouch for your experience. For example, a self-employed accountant or bookkeeper who works without supervision would not qualify for these credits.
An alternative is to do voluntary work for small businesses, non-profit organisations and associations. This has the added benefit of providing you with a network of potential clients if and when you want to run your own firm.
What if I’m ACCA Qualified and can’t get Practical Experience?
This is a question that many concerned students have asked. Unfortunately, there is no way around this requirement because you cannot achieve performance objectives without being in an accounting or finance role. It is best to consider this before you embark on the ACCA qualification to avoid disappointment.
Performance Objective Requirements
There are nine performance objectives that are indicators of effective performance in the workplace. They are divided into two categories seen below:
Why are these Performance Objectives necessary?
Each objective is linked to an exam paper. These two components provide the skills necessary to operate as a qualified professional.
Completion of Performance Objectives
Each objective has a description of the skills and experience you must practically demonstrate as well as a statement.
The statement allows you to summarise and reflect on your work tasks and allows your practical experience supervisor to evaluate whether you are competent. You must claim five elements and complete a 200-500 word statement for each objective.
You can claim elements as soon as you achieve them without waiting to complete the objective.
How to Write Statements
A description of one or two tasks that show your competence in an objective is all that is necessary to write your statement. The tasks must relate to the performance objective description.
Avoid jargon or abbreviations, and provide enough evidence and examples to illustrate your statement. It must be clear to anyone reading the statement that you are competent in this area. If you find yourself repeating information, there may not be enough to prove competence. It would be wiser to review the tasks and evidence you submit.
Performance Objective Exemption
Performance objective exemption is available for anyone employed by an ACCA Approved Employer. You must still log practical experience for 36 months as you progress, but you do not have to link it to a performance objective.
Practical Experience Supervisors
The practical experience supervisor supports your progress in the workplace. They should be a person who can review your PER because they work closely with you. They will need to support you in the following ways:
- Identify which performance objectives you can achieve and the date by which you should achieve them
- Help you plan the experience you need and how you will get it. This may call for job rotations, some project work, special assignments and ad hoc tasks
- Steer you along the training and development pathway, guide you on the research required and allow you to practice what you’ve agreed upon
- Review and sign off your performance objectives when you have met the required standard
- Confirm the time that you are claiming in the workplace as relevant experience
Requirements to be a Practical Experience Supervisor
The following are minimum stipulations for all supervisors:
- Qualification as an accountant and recognised membership with an accounting body in your country or a member of IFAC
- Ability to observe you practice your activities and tasks in the same department or team. They must be able to comment from personal experience on the type and quality of the work you produce
- They cannot be someone below your level of work since they must be able to accurately judge the work that you produce and give feedback to you. Line managers or project managers are ideal candidates.
You may have multiple supervisors, but each must meet the minimum criteria. If you have a line manager and he/she has delegated you to a project to gain experience, then ideally, the line manager and project manager would together assess your work.
If you are your company's most senior finance person, you can ask an auditor or another senior accountant to sign off on your work. It is best to avoid creating a conflict of interest by asking a friend, relative or potential client to rate your work. They must be comfortable giving you accurate and open feedback.
Registration of a Practical Experience Supervisor
Register your supervisor/s by adding their details to the MyExperience page on the ACCA browser. They will receive a notification to register as your supervisor via email. You will not be able to log any evidence until they are registered.
ACCA conducts PER audits to assure the quality of the process and maintain ethically high standards for the qualification. You may be selected for an audit at any time and should ensure that the information you provide is relevant to your performance objectives. ACCA may occasionally reject statements and evidence for objectives if they do not meet the required standard.
In this article, we have provided you with critical PER information for 2023. As promised, we discussed types of workplace experience, completion of performance objectives, requirements for supervisors and PER audits.
Without relevant and current accounting knowledge, the quality of your work experience is greatly diminished. VIVA's tutors have worked in the industry for years and know what it takes to get through the ACCA qualification, both theoretically and practically.
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