Date posted: 13/09/2021 5 min read

Is a CA specialisation right for you?

Can being recognised as a CA Specialist help you build a more successful and fulfilling career? We spoke to five specialists to find out.

In Brief

  • A specialisation can help consolidate your reputation as an expert.
  • More than 1000 CAs have completed specialist programs.
  • Chartered Accountants ANZ offers five specialisation accreditations.

Most chartered accountants recognise the value of having a respected accreditation – and the importance of updating their knowledge through CPD.

So for many working in certain niche areas of our profession, undertaking a specialisation program and becoming accredited as a CA Specialist presents a great opportunity.

For someone already experienced in one of the specified fields, undertaking the program and being recognised as a specialist can help enhance their personal brand.  Or for those starting out in the field, undertaking a relevant education program while gaining experience can provide the knowledge and skills needed for a successful specialist career. 

Chartered Accountants ANZ offers five specialisation accreditations, in business valuation, forensic accounting, self-managed super funds (SMSFs), risk and financial advice/planning. More than 1,000 CAs have been accredited as specialists and are now reaping the benefits. 

We asked a specialist from each of the specialisation areas for their insights into how the accreditation has affected their careers.

1. Build your reputation

Hollie Ponton CA, a forensic accountant, 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 recently completed the SMSF specialisation program and says it is helping him take advantage of opportunities in this rapidly growing sector.

He says the expectations trustees have about their SMSF professionals will only increase. “So, people who have specialised in super give them peace of mind,” he says. “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’.”

2. Future-proof your career

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, a risk and compliance professional, was in the inaugural cohort of Chartered Accountants ANZ’s risk specialisation program last year. 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.”

3. Attract clients, win business

George Whitington CA, partner 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.

He says the two programs expanded his existing technical knowledge, 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.”

“As a specialist, 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 CA ANZ financial planning specialisation can also be an effective way to stand out to your clients as a trusted adviser, a chartered accountant who is also an experienced planner/adviser.

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.”

Qualify as a specialist in 2021

Dates for the next intake for Chartered Accountants ANZ’s specialist accreditations are:

  • Forensic accounting – Enrolments closed 12 July
  • Business valuation – Enrolments close 24 September
  • SMSF specialisation – Enrolments close mid-September
  • Risk specialisation – Enrolments close beginning of October
  • Financial planning – Applications to become a specialist for eligible members are open all year

Find out more

Find out more, or register your interest, for a CA specialisation course

Register for a specialisation course

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