A message from your Chairman Daryl Koch, your CEO Rochelle Park and Andrew Conway, IPA Group CEO

Strength in numbers

Further to our recent announcement of the Board’s decision to join the IPA Group and strengthen the AAT membership offering, this article provides detail in relation to the decision, the nature of the arrangements and the opportunities ahead for AAT members.

After careful consideration, your Board has approved a proposal for the integration of the Association of Accounting Technicians with the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) and for the AAT to join the IPA Group. The IPA Group is the world’s largest SME-focused accountancy organisation with more than 40,000 members.

This approval follows a period of extensive discussion, consultation, negotiation, and review.

Many of our members will be aware that the AAT and the IPA have enjoyed a close relationship for almost 20 years; with the IPA providing ongoing support as a major sponsor.

The integration will strengthen this relationship and enable all current AAT members to access a wider range of benefits and services, supported by the IPA’s strong infrastructure. 

This proposal involves the transfer of the assets and undertakings of the AAT to the IPA; with specific conditions including the admission of AAT members to the IPA Group and maintenance of the AAT brand.

Whilst this decision by the AAT Board was taken prior to the challenges that now confront us all, it is clear that at this time of significant uncertainty, our profession must continue to work cohesively and collaboratively to provide relevant and enhanced professional and personal support for all members.  

We are keenly aware that many members, whose professional services are desperately needed by clients and micro/small business, need strength provided by numbers.

We believe this integration will deliver the AAT and our members this support.

The question of the ratification of the Board’s decision in relation to this integration will be tabled at a General Meeting of AAT members on 4 June 2020. Notice of this meeting and proxy voting forms will be sent to you nearer the time.

Summary commitments

  1. Preservation of your AAT membership, the AAT brand, AAT community and AAT support and resources.
  2. Additional access to technical resources for BAS Agents and bookkeepers and expanded advocacy with a stronger voice to Government.
  3. An increase in member services and additional CPE opportunities leveraging the IPA Group resources.
  4. Joint research and policy development in support of small and micro-business (your clients).
  5. AAT membership fees to remain frozen for the 2021 financial year.
  6. Complimentary membership with the IPA Group.
  7. Greater financial security with access to additional resources and infrastructure.

This information provides background to the integration and hopefully addresses your most immediate questions and concerns.

“Why now?”

Initial discussions between the AAT and the IPA Group regarding the future commenced some time ago.    Through the close working relationship with IPA Group CEO, Andrew Conway and all IPA staff, and the support of the AAT and IPA boards, we have established a strong foundation for discussions. 

It is also clear to the AAT Board, that whilst this integration is necessary in terms of consolidation, sustainability and growth in the pursuit of common aims; it has been brought into sharper focus by the recent economic uncertainty which permeates each and every aspect of our lives.

After carefully considering options, the Board believes integration to be the optimum solution; one which will guarantee the future growth and success of AAT by both securing investment in much needed infrastructure and providing the AAT with the critical mass required to better serve you our members.

Both the AAT and IPA have completed due diligence and commissioned independent evaluation processes; fundamental to putting in place a stronger relationship.

“What does this mean for me as an AAT member?”
Mutual recognition

All AAT members will be automatically admitted to membership of the IPA Group at no cost as IPA (AAT) members.  This commences in perpetuity on a like-for-like membership basis at the time of the integration.

All members will retain their existing membership numbers.

AAT member fees will remain static for at least 12 months and there will be no changes to existing payment options or arrangements.

Key benefits 

This amalgamation of two long established and well-regarded organisations delivers three key benefits:

  • Greater member value from dual designations at no additional cost, a stronger voice, enhanced member recognition, membership of the IPA Group, currently comprising the IPA in Australia and the UK based Institute of Financial Accountants (UK).  Whilst operating globally, the IPA Group is clearly focused on the needs of every local member, irrespective of location.

  • Greater efficiency with access to world-class IT and communication systems and a highly sophisticated infrastructure, and

  • Greater effectiveness through enhanced member services, advocacy and influence,

Not only will you have access to improved services, your joint membership of both the AAT and the IPA Group at no cost will provide you with joint member recognition.  Members in practice will have access to sophisticated practice management tools and improved practice assurance, more online CPD, stronger technical support, enhanced career guidance, stronger advocacy, greater external recognition and the attendant heightened influence and profile.

Strength in numbers 

You will be a member of the world’s leading SME accountancy body; supported in all that you do in your professional life.

The AAT has made significant progress as a membership organisation and is thankful for the support of existing members.  Progress has however been limited by resource constraints and legacy financing arrangements with three sponsor bodies

The integration will deliver considerable savings across the Group as the result of an alignment of office functions and the replacement of legacy technology infrastructure.

You will be a part of the 20th largest member body of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), and the largest body in Australia representing the accounting technician’s market.

The integration will strengthen our voice and capacity to represent members and strengthen our capacity to influence government and regulatory policymakers.  Further investment will be committed to lobbying, research and policy papers, and advocacy on behalf of the SME sector.

It will for you, be “business as usual”.  The same but better.

Member support 

Direct membership support will continue to be provided by  AAT personnel based in the IPA Head Office in Melbourne.

This support will be enhanced by the IPA Group’s world-class IT systems, based in Melbourne and accessible world-wide. Post integration, all of our members will experience enhancements in member communications, member-controlled profiles, online PD, technical accounting resources and a renewed website interface.

As complimentary members of the IPA Group, all AAT members will be offered access to IPA offices and lounges Australia wide.

This support will free our AAT staff to focus on member and student growth, brand development and member services.

Professional development 

There will be no changes to the current entry requirements or criteria for continuing membership. We will however be far better placed to offer enhanced practice support, technical assistance and CPD which will have the effect, over time, of raising our expertise.

We will also improve our offering to our future members; particularly, TAFE and other students.

The IPA has a number of professional development programs which are directly relevant to or can be adapted to support members having a BAS practice focus.

IT and the member experience 

Access to accurate and comprehensive member information will enhance general service levels. Improved IT will allow us to better identify and meet member needs and permit the delivery of precisely targeted and timely PD, deliver our qualifications online and provide online assessment, and promote more timely communication of technical updates and enable us to interact more readily with all members.

Statutory registrations 

AAT members will remain members of a Registered BAS Agent Association and/or Registered Tax Agent Association as regulated by the Tax Practitioners’ Board.

The future looks bright  

The IPA currently offers members in practice a dedicated suite of management resources (“Practice in a Box”); a comprehensive package which includes practice management software, tailored stationery, enrolment in a practice assurance program, a detailed practice manual, preferential Professional Indemnity Insurance cover, access to discounted and focused professional development, and sample engagement letters. This suite will be adapted to meet the needs of AAT-designated members.

Additional resources will be deployed to focus upon developing a new AAT pathway through the introduction of an innovative designation and certification program for all eligible members. This will align to comparable global designations as the value provided by accounting technicians and recognition of this value grows.

This program will continue to grow and strengthen our membership base, including students, and extend our reach in policy and regulatory matters, research, lobbying and thought leadership as well as enabling greater co-ordination and support of our branch network and the development of further member resources.  It is anticipated that this new designation will become the accounting technician certification of choice for TAFE students seeking a career as an accounting technician. This also opens the door for expanded services such as business advisory and public sector services.

The AAT cannot achieve this alone and this integration will preserve AAT’s history and provide a sustainable base for ongoing development and leadership of the profession for decades to come.

“What does this mean for the AAT as my membership body?”


Both the AAT and the IPA Group will maintain their respective brands and operational autonomy. It will be “business as usual”. 

If the brands work, they will be supported.  Whilst good practice suggests that the look and feel of designs should be regularly reviewed for consistency and appropriacy; the AAT name will remain as a “Member of the IPA Group”.

Resources and support 

As a member of the IPA Group, the AAT will have access to additional resources which will help drive new and enhanced member benefits in the future.  Significant enhancements to infrastructure and administrative support will also be provided by the IPA Group.  

AAT governance 

Our current AAT Board will oversee the transition to ensure that all commitments are honoured. Given that the original AAT Constitution drew heavily on the constitution of the then National Institute of Accountants (the predecessor member body of the IPA) changed governance arrangements on integration are expected to be straight-forward.  AAT will be represented on the IPA Board.  

AAT management post integration  

All current AAT staff will transition to the IPA.  Your CEO Rochelle Park will continue to lead the AAT as part of the IPA Group and will assume a role within the Group Executive team of IPA.  

AAT eligibility requirements  

There will be no change to AAT eligibility requirements; aside from those determined from time to time by the AAT management team and others.  

The focus will however be upon on-going professional development; a carefully constructed blend of formal education, experience and an all new professional certification program available exclusively to AAT members.

Why the IPA Group? 

Of all bodies, the IPA Group has the strongest affinity with our sector and understands our member profile and needs. Our relationship spans almost 20 years.

The IPA Group has a specific focus on small and medium practice and enterprise, and shares our commitment to advice, support, research and advocacy that is practical, relevant, accessible and responsive.

As an AAT member, what do I need to do now? 
  1. Engage.  We want to hear your questions. Your Board is strongly encouraging you to engage with this issue and to consider, the significant member benefits.

  2. Renew your membership to ensure you will be included in the member vote.        

  3. Support and vote for the integration.

What happens now? 

Why has your Board approved of this integration? 

We believe there are compelling reasons for the bodies to come together:

  • clear strategic fit;
  • a shared commitment to the SME/ SMP sector;
  • strength in numbers – with more than 40,000 members and students;
  • a cooperative work environment in which we will develop new products and services to the benefit of current and future members;
  • shared ambition to promote a new certification;
  • to build on a long-standing relationship, developed in an atmosphere of mutual trust;
  • establish economies of scale to constrain costs and avoid unnecessary increases in membership fees;
  • better prepared to face changes demanding rationalisation and efficiencies;
  • the greater global reach of a larger, more effective, single organisation;
  • a voice of greater resonance in government circles;
  • we will be better able to disseminate best practice throughout our membership;
  • stronger technical support;
  • a shared intellectual property investment spread across a larger member base;
  • more effective alignment of our educational and member services pathways;
  • enhanced IT systems;
  • to become the world’s largest SME/SMP body
  • a partner with stronger financial resources

About the Institute of Public Accountants and the IPA Group
Prof. Andrew Conway FIPA FFA, Chief Executive Officer Institute of Public Accountants

With origins in 1916 (UK) and 1923 (Australia), as the National Institute of Accountants, the IPA along with the UK based Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA), now make up the IPA Group. The IFA was acquired by the IPA in 2015. The IFA brand has been retained. The IPA Group has more than 40,000 members and students worldwide.

Headquartered in Melbourne, it has branch offices in all major Australian cities, as well as in London, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

The IPA is a full member of both the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA).

IPA membership is fully recognised in Australian legislation at Federal and State levels, including: The Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001, The Corporations Act 2001, and The Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. The IPA is a Government approved assessing authority for immigration purposes and also assesses the educational qualifications of those seeking immigration as skilled accounting professionals.

A significant number of IPA members are in practice, all subject to strong scrutiny and high levels of professional conduct; each is obliged to hold a prescribed level of professional indemnity insurance, be subject to periodic Quality Assurance reviews and to undertake regular and relevant continuing professional education.

A United Kingdom perspective: The IFA and the IPA Group
John Edwards, CEO Institute of Financial Accountants

The Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) joined the Institute of Public Accountants more than five years ago in January 2015 to become a member of the IPA Group.  This decision was we believe arguably the most important step the IFA had taken in its 100-year history. We now believe it was certainly worth taking.

Prior to this coming together, the bodies had worked together informally since 2002; signing a collaboration agreement in 2012 to form a global accounting alliance focussed on the SME/SMP sectors.

Whilst prior to 2015, the IFA had made headway in enhancing recognition and growing membership, greater investment in the business was required and it became clear we needed the support of a credible like-minded accountancy body, who shared the same vision and ethos.

Since joining the IPA Group, the IFA has gone from strength to strength. Challenges in the management of differences in legislation and regulation have been met head on and overcome through open communication and teamwork.

Importantly, the IFA has:

  • maintained member-led governance.
  • Maintained operational autonomy.    
  • continued as an independent operating entity within the IPA Group.     
  • retained either the IFA brand.
  • offered reciprocal membership enabling all to hold membership of both IFA and IPA at no additional cost, with access to all benefits across the enlarged group    
  • developed and grown membership and qualifications.
  • accessed world class IT and back office data management and finance systems.    
  • extended global reach.
  • deployed more resources to be externally focused.    

The IPA Group has a shared outlook, a common focus on the SME and SMP sectors and a joint commitment to maintain and develop professional standards to the highest level. It enables us to lead; rather than follow the debate on behalf of SMEs/SMPs.