Practice Management Closed Book Exam Conditions

As we transition the pathway to becoming a Public Practitioner to a more flexible delivery model, the Practice Management exam will be delivered under closed-book exam conditions in Semester 2, 2019. You will not be able to take any study materials with you into the exam.

Successful completion of the Practice Management distance learning subject is one of the prerequisites for obtaining a Public Practice Certificate to offer public accounting services in Australia or New Zealand.

The program is also suitable for members based outside Australia or New Zealand who are interested in learning about practice management. Additional non-examinable introductory information on the requirements to practise as an accountant in Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore is also available in the International Practice Management supplementary booklet.

Exam structure

The Practice Management exam is closed book and consists of 100 per cent multiple-choice questions.

Subject content

The subject is divided into eight modules. A brief outline of each module is provided below.

Recommended proportion of study time (%) Weighting (%)
1. The business of public practice 7 7
2. Ethics 10 10
3. Quality control and risk management
15 15
4. Planning an independent practice – the ‘big picture’
10 10
5. Creating a business plan that fits the strategic plan
15 15
6. A finance plan within the strategic plan
16 16
7. Creating a people plan that fits the strategic
12 12
8. Building and growing a practice
15 15

Module 1: The business of public practice

Module 1 introduces the term “public practice” and its requirements. It discusses how public practice has changed in recent years and helps you examine if public practice is suitable for you (the whole program helps you address this question). Module 1 provides you with a checklist to assess your strengths and limitations and gives a broad outline of the changing trends in business and public accounting. It looks closely at the requirements of public practice and the challenges it offers to practitioners.

Module 2: Ethics

Module 2 explores the challenges that public accountants are likely to encounter at some point during their careers in practice, requirements when managing these issues and the fundamental cornerstone of the accounting professional—protection of the public interest. The module also examines ethical and professional responsibilities as they relate to the practice of accounting and the profession. APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants provides the foundation for ethical and professional standards. The module examines the fundamental principles and framework of APES 110 and their application to members, in particular those in public practice.

Module 3: Quality control and risk management in your business

Module 3 discusses the Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board (APESB) standards:

  • APES 325 Risk Management for Firms (issued in December 2011, revised in October 2015 and December 2017 with changes effective from 1 April 2018)
  • APES 320 Quality Control for Firms (reissued in May 2009 and revised in 2015 with changes effective from April 2016), which applies to all members in public practice.

It is essential that those entering public practice are aware of the external regulatory environment within which they operate. This module briefly covers the licensing and registration requirements in various areas, such as taxation, auditing and financial planning.

Module 4: Planning an independent practice — The "big picture"

Module 4 further builds on your understanding of what is involved in setting up a public practice. It is important to develop a business strategy to create a thriving public practice. This requires you to have a "big picture" view of the practice’s present resources, and where you want your business to go. In this context the term strategic planning is explained, and steps involved are highlighted in the module. It also discusses some of the long-term strategies you will need to build a strong, well-regarded practice in the coming years.

Module 5: Creating a business plan that fits the strategic plan

While Module 4 deals with your practice’s basic direction for the future and its purpose, Modules 5, 6 and 7 focus on elements of your practice which play a role in achieving your objectives such as your people, resources and finance. For each of these elements you need to have objectives and operational plans in place to achieve those goals.

Module 5 looks at the detailed business planning for five major functions in your proposed practice:

  • the structure of your practice
  • the services offered
  • practice operating systems
  • marketing and 
  • technology strategy.

In addition, it covers the risk management issues pertaining to each of these aspects of your practice.

Module 6: A finance plan within your strategic plan

This module shows you how to create a budget that will help you decide whether your plan is affordable. If it is affordable, then it is an endorsement of the public practice you plan to establish. If it is not, you will need to go back and review some of your key assumptions or detailed plans. The entire planning and budgeting process is ongoing. By updating the base assumptions, you identify the revenue and cost streams that flow from those assumptions until the entire plan works. The business environment is always changing. As such, the planning process needs to be revisited regularly so that you can incorporate changes in your circumstances and the marketplace, and re-budget for the immediate future.

Module 7: Creating a people plan that fits the strategic plan

Module 7 will examine staffing, as well as a range of staffing issues, and discuss how to create a people plan for your business plan. As you work through this module, you should consider how staffing issues impact on the strategies you have already developed to ensure that a coherent plan is emerging. For many of the issues, you will need to develop an approach that is consistent with your practice objectives. This module emphasises the importance of well-developed policies and procedures as a means of maintaining high-quality service.

Module 8: Building and growing a practice

This module assesses the growth requirements of a practice and developing a strategy based both on external and internal growth options. We will understand how to manage the client relationship and build an effective communication program. This module identifies the resources required for and the risk associated with growth during the business plan implementation.