Date posted: 27/07/2022 5 min read

CA Specialists: experience recognised

Find out how five CAs enhanced their personal brand by becoming CA Specialists in their fields.

In Brief

  • CA Specialisations consolidate your reputation as an industry expert.
  • More than 1000 CAs have completed specialist programs.
  • Chartered Accountants ANZ currently offers five specialisation accreditations

Chartered Accountants recognise the value of possessing a respected accreditation and the importance of maintaining their knowledge through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). CA ANZ offers accreditations in Risk, Business Valuation, Forensic Accounting, Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSF), and Financial Planning. More than 1,000 CAs have already completed one of the five available specialist programs and are now credited in all their marketing materials as CA Specialists.

For many members working in these particularly niche areas of the accounting profession, undertaking one of the eight-week specialisation programs and becoming an accredited CA Specialist presents a great opportunity to formally recognise their experience and enhance their personal brand. Members who are still establishing themselves within their field but have at least two years of practical experience can set their sights on becoming a specialist through post-graduate study.

We spoke to specialists from each field to gather their insights into how becoming a CA Specialist has benefited their careers.

Build your reputation and enhance your credibility

Hollie Ponton CA, a Financial Investigator at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), did the forensic accounting specialisation program to strengthen her already sound knowledge base. “It was a confirmation of my existing skills and abilities while showcasing my desire to gain knowledge that will add value to clients,” she says.

“[The accreditation] holds a certain amount of weight among our peers and is a recognisable achievement. When I'm preparing reports, witness statements or affidavits, I'm often required to outline my accreditations and experience. I know that being a forensic accounting specialist helps with my credibility.”

Hollie Ponton CAPicture: Hollie Ponton CA.

Glenn Roberts CA, director at GWR Professional Services, agrees that enhanced credibility is a key driver. He completed the SMSF specialisation program and says it is helping him take advantage of opportunities in this rapidly growing sector.

He says the expectations that trustees have about their SMSF professionals will only increase but those CAs which have specialised in SMSF will give them “peace of mind.” Roberts also added that, “if you have the specialisation under your belt, you can say: ‘I'm a dedicated SMSF specialist. This is an area that I live and breathe’.”

Future-proof your career and develop your skillset

For some CAs, a specialisation is a way to tap into newer and fast-growing parts of the profession, such as risk advisory services. Businesses and governments now realise the importance of identifying and managing financial risks – resulting in high demand for those with the relevant skills and experience.

Chithroobi Gunaratnam CA, Head of Business Controls and Monitoring at Westpac, was in the inaugural cohort of Chartered Accountants ANZ’s risk specialisation program in 2020. She says the demand for risk specialists is being propelled by global events and advances in technology.

Chithroobi Gunaratnam CA working on her laptopPicture: Chithroobi Gunaratnam CA

“Definitely during COVID-19, we’ve had to work differently to manage the changing regulatory and compliance environment,” she notes. “Then there’s the technology point of view – the use of data and AI.”

She says the accreditation helps her to confidently lead the conversation about risk.

“There’s an opportunity to influence how these types of challenges are dealt with. You need to be able to understand and manage your risks within an organisation’s appetite. Doing the specialisation is a good way to learn that skill set.”

Double down and lead with confidence

George Whitington CA, principal at Nexia Edwards Marshall, has completed both the business valuation and forensic accounting specialisation programs, and says “it was a no-brainer” for him to enrol.

Combining the two programs not only expanded his existing technical knowledge but also boosted his reputation in the field and increased his ability to attract new business.

“Having a specialisation distinguishes you and as a specialist, if you're good at what you do, there will always be demand for your services.”

“Having a specialisation distinguishes you and […] if you’re good at what you do, there will always be demand for your services.”
George Whitington CA

For CAs working in the advice area, the financial planning specialisation can also be an effective way to stand out to your clients as a trusted adviser – a Chartered Accountant with advanced knowledge and experience that has been formally recognised.

Ernie Tatarelli FCA, chair of the CA ANZ Financial Planning Specialisation Committee, says the accreditation gives clients confidence in you as a financial adviser/planner.

“[The accreditation] removes any uncertainty,” he says. “With [Australia’s] Royal Commission into banking and the quality of financial advice in recent years, clients want peace of mind that they’re receiving high quality, ethical and professional advice.” 

Ernie Tatarelli CAPicture: Ernie Tatarelli CA.

“The specialisation lets them know they’re dealing with a true professional who’s accredited by a highly regarded professional body.”

Become a CA Specialist

View the current specialisation program offerings, course brochures and next available intake dates.

Find out more

Risk Specialist: Chithroobi Gunaratnam CA

The new Risk Specialisation Program was a way to consolidate knowledge and experience in an increasingly complex field.

Read the full story

Forensic Accounting Specialist: Hollie Ponton CA

Even with 10 years' experience under her belt, the Forensic Accounting Specialisation was "an opportunity [she] couldn't pass up".


Business Valuation Specialist: George Whitington CA

Signing up for the Business Valuation Specialisation when it first launched in 2014 was a "no brainer".


SMSF Specialist: Glenn Roberts CA

Networking, technical understanding and credibility are just some of the benefits gained from a CA SMSF Specialisation.

Read the full story