The review program

Every member who holds a Public Practice Certificate (PPC) is subject to the requirements of the Quality Review Program, and may be selected to undergo a peer review. Upon issuance of a PPC, a member is permitted a two-year period of grace within which to establish their quality control policies and procedures, before becoming eligible for selection for review. The timing of subsequent reviews will be determined by a risk assessment of the member, based upon the outcome of the practitioner's previous review and the number and severity of breaches identified. The outcome of the risk assessment will determine whether the member is reviewed on a one, three or four year cycle.

The first time a member undergoes a review, after the issuance of their PPC, their review will be conducted by a CPA Australia accredited reviewer, who undertakes reviews on behalf of CPA Australia. The reviewer will be a public practitioner with relevant experience and demonstrated expertise in order to assess the system of quality control in place in a fellow member’s practice. No fee-is charged for the initial CPA Australia quality review if a member holds a CPA Australia PPC unless the review is a conducted as a condition of reinstatement of a PPC or as a determination of a disciplinary tribunal decision. From 1 January 2015 any member who is subject to a follow-up review will be charged a fixed fee of $1500 (plus GST) to cover additional costs of review.

Once a member has completed their first quality review the type of services the member offers will determine the type of review they will undertake when next selected, based on CPA Australia’s risk profiling procedures.

Scope of reviews

Every member is expected to ensure that the work performed meets the relevant mandatory requirements of the standards issued by the Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board (APESB), and the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AUASB). The nature of the policies and procedures developed by a member to comply with the standards will vary and accordingly the extent of review work undertaken will differ, but the methodology of the review process remains consistent across all reviews. Adherence to professional standards applies to all members.

The reviewer seeks  limited assurance that the standard of work performed by the member accords with the standards pertaining to the areas of work undertaken. Initially, the reviewer directs attention to the maintenance of the system of quality control (focussed primarily around the requirements of APES 320 – Quality Control for Firms, APES 110 – Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants and APES 325 Risk Management of Firms); and then focuses on requirements relating to more specific practice areas (encompassing other Statements in the APES series; ASA series; Corporations Act 2001; the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993; and the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulation 1994).

The internal quality control procedures within a practice influence the nature, timing and extent of further review procedures. Evidence is sought to support the member's responses with respect to compliance with professional standards. The reviewer also reviews client files, working papers, completed checklists and other relevant material used for selected engagements. The reviewer applies the standards current at the time the engagement was completed.

More detailed information on the review process can be found in practice management.

Quality control manual

A Comprehensive Guide to Quality Control for Public Practitioners (PDF) first published in 2004, and last revised in 2014, provides a discussion on each of the elements of quality control, and quality control as it relates to each of the practice areas and practice types.

Practitioners should use this reference selectively and adopt internal control procedures appropriate to their own practice.

Selection of client files

The selection of which client files to review depends on the area under review, and is determined by the reviewer appointed to complete the Quality Review. The public practitioner under review will be asked to provide a list of client files which may be compared to client databases. The number of files chosen for review in each area of practice depends on the proportion of the practice income generated from that fee area, the perceived risk associated with the type of practice, and an assessment of the internal quality control procedures.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

A public practice certificate holder who has completed a quality review, with the exception of a limited scope review, may claim five hours of CPD for the year in which the review was undertaken.