Institute of Public Accountants

The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) is one of the three legally recognised professional bodies for accountants in Australia.[1] The IPA represents more than 35,000 members and students working in industry, commerce, government, academia and professional practice.

Institute of Public Accountants
IndustryAccounting and Finance
FoundedMelbourne Victoria, Australia (1923 as IFCA (1923 as IFCA))
Head OfficeMelbourne, Australia
LocationsAustralia, Beijing, Kuala Lumpura
PresidentDamien Moore
CEOAndrew Conway
DesignationsAIPA, MIPA & FIPA
Mottomaking small business count
FormerlyNational Institute of Accountants
PublicationPublic Accountant

The organisation rebranded from its previous title, the National Institute of Accountants (NIA), on May 2, 2011.[2]

In 2012, the IPA was ranked 19th in the BRW Most Innovative Companies list.[3]

The IPA launched its digital hub, an expanded digital edition of its flagship journal Public Accountant, in early 2013.[4]


The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) is one of Australia's oldest representative professional bodies, formed in 1923.[5]

  • 1923 - Institute of Factory and Cost Accountants, formed in Melbourne, Victoria.
  • 1950 - Institute of Taxation and Cost Accountants, name change.
  • 1957 - National Institute of Accountants, name change.
  • 1967 - Institute of Commercial Studies, name change.
  • 1970 - Institute of Affiliate Accountants, name change.
  • 1988 - National Institute of Accountants, adoption of the precedent name.
  • 2002 - NIA gazetted as an authorised assessing authority for skilled migration to Australia.
  • 2004 - NIA became a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).
  • 2007 - NIA became a member of Asia Oceania Tax Consultants' Association (AOTCA).[6]
  • 2011 - Institute of Public Accountants, name change[7]
  • 2011 - IPA became a member of the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA).
  • 2012 - IPA launches "My Public Accountant" package for accountants in public practice.
  • 2012 - Named number 19 in 2012 BRW Most Innovative Companies List
  • 2013 - Launched the Public Accountant digital hub
  • 2015 - IPA amalgamation with the Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) of United Kingdom.

Membership levels

The IPA has three levels of membership:[8]

  • Associate (AIPA)
  • Member (MIPA)
  • Fellow (FIPA)

Student Membership

Students studying towards an accounting qualification can join as a student member, free of charge. Student members have access to networking opportunities, receive monthly e-newsletters, employment tips, and are eligible to participate in the IPA Project.[9]

Additionally, graduate IPA student members and non-members who have completed their accounting degree or advanced diploma within the last three years are eligible for the Graduate Associate level of membership (GAIPA). This level of membership was designed to assist in the transition of students to full membership in their early career years. It provides recently graduated students with a significantly reduced rate of membership, without missing out on the benefits that full IPA membership provides.[10]

Retired Members

Retired members are eligible for reduced membership fees and specific offers designed to assist semi-retired members in practice.

Membership requirements

AIPA membership requires:

  • Australian Advanced Diploma of Accounting


  • Bachelor's degree in Accounting (Australian, or assessed as equivalent)

or current BAS Agent or Tax Agent registration (must also meet relevant IPA practice certificate requirements)

MIPA membership requires:

  • Australian Advanced Diploma of Accounting
  • Two years of pre-IPA program full-time (or equivalent) work experience in accounting or related fields
  • IPA Program (12 subjects) (resulting in a Master of Commerce in Public Accounting)
  • Mentored Experience Program


  • Bachelor's degree in Accounting (Australian, or assessed as equivalent)
  • IPA Program (4 subjects) (resulting in a Graduate Certificate in Public Accounting) Note. Members with a recognized university qualification in accountancy may elect to complete a further 8 subjects to obtain a Master of Commerce (Public Accounting) awarded by the University of New England.
  • Mentored Experience Program

FIPA membership requires:

  • 7 years' MIPA status or equivalent; plus,
  • 10 years' experience in accounting (last 5 years of which are at a senior level)

Mentored Experience Program

The Mentored Experience Program (MEP) requires members to undergo a formal mentoring process gaining 3 years of structured work experience. With the guidance of an IPA approved mentor, usually a fully qualified accountant from one of the three professional bodies, the MEP provides the framework for members to increase both their practical experience and knowledge in the workplace.[11]

IPA Program

The IPA Program is a fully accredited educational pathway delivered by the University of New England (UNE).[12] It provides rigorous and globally recognised postgraduate education resulting in the award of a Graduate Certificate in Public Accounting and/or a Master of Commerce (Public Accounting) degree. Members are required to undertake either four (4) or twelve (12) subjects to advance to MIPA status depending on their undergraduate qualifications. The program is delivered online via distance learning and allows members to study at their own pace. Members have up to 5 years to complete the program. The IPA is the only accounting body to offer a Master of Commerce degree in Public Accounting as its professional program.

The Master of Commerce (Public Accounting)degree is designated by the Australian Qualifications Framework Authority (AQF) at Level 9. The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) establishes the quality of Australian qualifications.

The AQF is the national policy for regulated qualifications in the Australian education and training system. Members of the IPA who complete the IPA program and obtain the Master's Degree (AQF Level 9), achieve a Higher Qualification than those from either CPA Australia (no AQF designation) or Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (AQF Level 8). Since January 2015, the IPA program was revised to a Graduate Certificate in Public Accounting (4 subjects) and/or Master of Commerce degree in Public Accounting (12 subjects), awarded by the University of New England. Like the pre-2015 versions of the IPA program, the paths to full IPA membership depend on entry qualifications of members and completion of both the MEP and the particular type of IPA program associated to the entry qualification in accountancy used to joining the IPA.

The pre-2015 IPA program(s) were named respectively Graduate Certificate in Professional Accounting (4 subjects) and Master of Commerce (Professional Accounting) (8 subjects), both awarded by the University of New England.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

All members of the IPA (except retired members) must complete a minimum of 80 hours structured CPE activity per biennium (2 years). The IPA recommends for members to meet this requirement that they complete 40 structured hours CPE activity per year. However a minimum of 10 hours per annum is possible with 70 hours being completed in the second year of the biennium. The IPA runs a series of face-to-face and online professional development events every year, open to IPA members and the public.

Members of other professional bodies

Members of certain other professional bodies may apply for certain membership levels with the IPA at an equivalent level based on their existing qualifications. These include members of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), CPA Australia (CPA) and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ). The IPA accepts CPA and CA ANZ membership as entry level qualifications. For overseas professional bodies potential members should refer to the immigration section of the IPA website for further details. The IPA accepts the professional examinations (plus membership) for certain overseas professional bodies.

The IPA collaborates with CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand in supporting the Accounting Professional & Ethical Standards Board (APESB), founded in 2006. APESB publishes ethics-related standards that must be followed by accountants in Australia based on the international standards published by the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA).[13][14]

Member Benefits

The IPA offers members a range of benefits to assist in their personal and professional lives. These include:

  • Access and complimentary credits for Professional Assist a leading online technical query service, providing answers from a professional panel of industry experts.
  • Access to the IPA Financial Services Package, that allows accountants to offer financial planning services as part of their practice, or to refer clients to specially selected, quality financial planners.
  • My Public Accountant membership for professional practitioners, the largest uniquely branded accounting network in Australia.
  • IPA's Professional Indemnity Insurance - specifically sourced for members to provide value for money and special benefits.
  • IPA Rewards - providing coupons and savings on a range of entertainment, travel, products and accommodation.
  • Member stationery - branded for member practices.
  • Technical Advantage - fortnightly technical newsletter that keeps members up to date with the latest legislative changes on tax, super, FoFA, small business, financial services and more.
  • Public Accountant - The IPA's industry journal, widely recognised as being a leading publication in the industry.
  • Member discounts and offers with a range of third party alliances such as: Accor, Accountants Super, Amex, AMP, BankLink, Bupa, Business Fitness, CCH Australia, Deppro, Thrifty, Powerbuy, Premium Wines Direct, Qantas, Xero, Prushka, Future Estate, Reckon Accounting Solutions and Thompson Reuters.

Mutual recognition

The IPA has a mutual recognition agreement in place with The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA). Formerly known as Institute of Certified Public Accountants of South Africa.

MIPA/FIPA members of the IPA are recognised by the UK's Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) for admission to CISI's full membership (MCSI). Full membership of the CISI is recognised by several national investment professional bodies such as the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (FINSIA), formerly the Australian Institute of Banking and Finance and the Hong Kong Securities Institute (HKSI).

In November 2010 the IPA hosted a delegation of senior executives from Nigeria’s peak accounting body, the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN). An MOU was signed with ANAN.[15]

In March 2011 the IPA entered into an MOU with peak management accounting body in India, the Institute of Cost Accountants of India. In 2012, the IPA and the Institute of Financial Accountants in the United Kingdom announced that they signed and exchanged a formal Collaboration Agreement.[16] In December 2014, The Members of the Institute of Financial Accountants voted in favour to formally merge with the IPA to operate under a new IPA Group.[17] In April 2013 the IPA and the SMSF Professionals' Association (SPAA) reached a mutual understanding to work together in areas such as accreditation, advocacy, research and policy development, organisational efficiencies, and education.[18]

Market recognition

The IPA has the same Australian legislative recognition as the other two Australian accounting bodies, CPA Australia (CPA) and the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).[1] In particular, the three accounting bodies are defined as "professional accounting bodies" in the Corporations Act 2001. Such recognition entitles each of the three bodies to nominate a representative to the Australian Financial Reporting Council, the Australian Government's peak body responsible for providing oversight of the setting of accounting and auditing standards as well as monitoring the effectiveness of auditor independence requirements in Australia and giving the Government reports and advice on these matters.

The PNA designation was introduced in 2000 as part of a strategy to upgrade the standing of IPA, then NIA, in the Australian market. At the time, to become a PNA, the applicant required a university degree in accounting plus 3 years work experience in accounting.

The IPA became a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) in November 2004. In order to obtain IFAC membership, the IPA upgraded the academic requirements for the PNA designation, including the requirement of post-graduate qualifications, developed in conjunction with the University of New England.

From 1 July 2005, the IPA upgraded the experience requirements for the PNA designation to a three-year competence-based mentored experience program. Applicants for this class of membership must demonstrate to a professionally qualified accountant that they have the competence to undertake various tasks required by the IPA. The IPA is recognised in Government forums and represented on various committees. These include those of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Taxation Office.[19]

From 2 May 2011, the NIA was rebranded as the Institute of Public Accountants. In part this rebrand and repositioning is with a view to increase recognition and awareness as well as strengthen designations both nationally and globally.[20] Since this repositioning, full members (MIPAs and FIPAs) of the IPA use the designation “Public Accountant”.

Qualifications assessment

Effective from 1 July 2002, the IPA was gazetted by the Australian Minister for Immigration as an authorised assessing authority for accountants seeking to migrate to Australia under Australia's skilled migration program. This gives the IPA the authority to assess the accounting qualifications of such persons.

The requirements to obtain a qualification assessment as an accountant for migration purposes are not the same as those for actual membership of IPA.[21]

Successful QAI applicants are eligible for membership, the IPA assesses for the same core knowledge areas for both membership and QAI.

Public practice and BAS work

My Public Accountant

In 2012, the IPA Professional Practice Certificate was revamped to bring members a package of easy-to-access services relevant to their accounting practices. The MPA sub brand is the largest uniquely branded accounting practice network in Australia. My Public Accountant members receive personalised My Public Accountant Practice Certificates, window decals, CPE discounts, insurance solutions, access to the Financial Services Package including free financial planning referral service and the benefit of belonging to a larger network of accounting practices.[22]

Members at the MIPA or FIPA level of the IPA may apply for a MPA Practice Certificate after satisfying additional requirements.

MPA members may advertise their businesses on the IPA's Find an Accountant database.

Public BAS Practitioner

The Public BAS Certificate formally acknowledges the importance of BAS providers to the accounting and financial services sector; and gives long overdue recognition to the growing numbers of accounting professionals who provide services in this space. Benefits of the BAS offer include tailored continuing professional education, templates and checklists, IPA collateral, dedicated partner offerings through Reckon, CCH and Xero, a dedicated technical helpline and heavily discounted Professional Indemnity insurance through our in-house broker. Members who provide BAS services only may apply for a Public BAS Practitioner Certificate after satisfying additional requirements.[23]


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