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Glossary of Common Terms

Glossary

These definitions are provided for clarity to assist in the interpretation of CPA practical experience requirements; they are not intended to modify or interpret provincial/regional regulations or bylaws.

Assessment: For purposes of practical experience, assessment includes CPA Ontario students performing self-assessments of the level of proficiency developed for each competency area, and CPA Ontario assessing the experience of CPA Ontario students. See also Reporting, Competency area and Proficiency level.

Assurance: “Audit” and “Review” as defined herein, and other assurance services as set out in the current CPA Canada Handbook – Assurance.

Audit: The audits of financial statements and other historical financial information as set out in the current CPA Canada Handbook – Assurance.

Audit stream: Qualifies candidates for registration to provide audit, review and compilation services as defined herein.

Autonomy: The degree of independence CPA Ontario students assume in carrying out a task. See also Circumstance and Complexity.

Breadth: The requirement for CPA Ontario students to gain proficiency in at least eight technical competency sub-areas, of which four must be at Level 2 proficiency and the remaining four at least at Level 1 proficiency, at the point of completion of practical experience. See also Depth, Core, Competency sub-area and Proficiency level.

Catch-up report: A report used by students transitioning to the CPA PER to indicate how the technical and enabling competencies developed through a legacy practical experience program, correlate to the related competencies under the CPA PER. Only practical experience previously approved under a legacy certification program can be captured in the catch-up report.

Chargeable hours: Hours supervised (directly or overall) by a CPA firm that are normally chargeable to clients. Chargeable hours do not include time spent on “work of a routine clerical nature.”

Circumstance: Situations are either routine or non-routine in nature. See also Autonomy and Complexity.

  • Routine — Circumstances typically encountered by and requiring the knowledge expected of newly certified CPAs.
  • Non-routine — Circumstances not typically encountered by newly certified CPAs; may require advanced technical expertise.

Competency area: One of the 11 competency areas defined in the CPA Competency Map. There are six technical competency areas:

  1. Financial Reporting,
  2. Management Accounting,
  3. Taxation,
  4. Strategy and Governance,
  5. Finance, and
  6. Audit and Assurance.

In addition, there are five enabling competency areas:

  1. Professional and Ethical Behaviour,
  2. Problem-Solving and Decision-Making,
  3. Communication,
  4. Self-Management, and
  5. Teamwork and Leadership.

See also Competency sub-area and competency statements.

Competency sub-area and competency statements: The specific technical competency statements are grouped into 20 competency sub-areas. Each competency area has between three to four competency sub-areas. See also Competency area and CPA Competency Map.

Compilation: Compilations prepared while performing an external engagement service where there is reasonable expectation that all or any portion of the compilations or associated materials will be relied upon or used by a third party and the notice to reader communication is required as set out in the compilation engagement section(s) of the current CPA Canada Handbook – Assurance.

Compilation stream: Qualifies candidates for registration to provide compilation services as defined herein.

Complexity: The degree of difficulty associated with the number and nature of interrelationships and ambiguities that must be considered simultaneously. There are three levels of complexity:

  • Low complexity — Little difficulty is associated with a small number of straightforward and frequently encountered issues; may achieve competence relying on “rote” approach.
  • Moderate complexity — Medium difficulty is associated with a number of interconnections or variables that need to be considered simultaneously; circumstances may be less clear and require approaches that are not practised frequently.
  • High complexity — Considerable difficulty is associated with a large number of interrelationships and ambiguities that must be considered simultaneously; often requires innovative approaches.

See also Autonomy and Circumstance.

Core: All CPA students must demonstrate technical proficiency in any three competency sub-areas, at least at Level 1 proficiency, in financial reporting and/or management accounting. See also Breadth, Depth, Competency sub-area and Proficiency level.

CPA: Canadian Chartered Professional Accountant; while there are other international CPA designations, all references in this document refer to the Canadian designation.

CPA student / candidate: Individuals who are registered with a provincial or regional body and:

  • are enrolled in a CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP), either through the profession’s CPA PEP or through an accredited graduate-level program offered by a post-secondary institution; or
  • have completed the CPA PEP modules and have yet to successfully complete the Common Final Examination (CFE), and/or their Practical Experience requirements.                                                                                                                                                   

Note that the terms “candidate” or “student” may be used by provincial/ regional bodies, depending on provincial/regional regulation. See CPA student.

CPA certification program: All elements of the CPA program required for certification, including academic prerequisites, the CPA Professional Education Program, the Common Final Examination, and qualifying practical experience.

CPA Competency Map: The CPA publication that profiles the competencies required of a CPA on the path to, and upon, certification. The competency statements and defined proficiency levels for practical experience are modified from those in the CPA Competency Map. These adjustments were made to reflect what CPA students are expected to demonstrate through practical experience.

CPA Experience Verification Route (EVR): The CPA Practical Experience model in which experience reporting commences when CPA Ontario students are employed in any position that allows them to gain experience in at least one sub-competency area at least Level 1 proficiency. The experience is approved by a CPA Ontario as the experience is gained. See also CPA Pre-Approved Program Route (PPR).

CPA pre-approved model: The CPA practical experience model in which CPA Ontario students are employed in a program that has been pre-approved by CPA Ontario.

CPA Pre-Approved Program Route (PPR): Programs offered by employers that allow CPA Ontario students to satisfy all of the practical experience requirements contained in this document within the required minimum term of practical experience. Pre-approved programs are monitored by the profession to ensure the approved training program is being followed. See also CPA Experience Verification Route (EVR)

CPA preparatory courses: Courses that provide those with undergraduate degrees in areas other than accounting with the specific knowledge requirements for admission to the CPA Professional Education Program. (CPA PEP)

CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP): The education program that CPA Ontario students must complete to become a CPA. It is delivered by the profession and by post-secondary institution programs accredited by the profession.

CPA registrant: An individual CPA or CPA firm registered with a CPA Ontario to provide public accounting services. See Registration.

CPA student: Individuals registered with a CPA Ontario and working towards prerequisites for admission to CPA PEP — either in CPA preparatory courses or in recognized courses and programs offered by post-secondary institutions.

Note that the term “student” may be used by provincial/regional bodies to refer to CPA candidates, depending on provincial/regional regulation. See CPA candidate.

Current experience: Practical experience gained on and after the PER Effective Date.

Depth: The requirement for CPA Ontario students to gain proficiency in all technical competency sub-areas relating to one competency area, with at least two competency sub-areas being at Level 2 proficiency. The remaining competency sub-areas need to be at least at Level 1 proficiency. See also Breadth, Core, Competency sub-area and Proficiency level.

Enabling competencies: The five essential skills for ethical behaviour, decision-making, problem-solving, communication, and leadership required of a professional accountant. See also Competency area, CPA Competency Map, and Technical competencies.

Foundational level: An employment position in which the majority of technical proficiency is at Level 0, with only one competency sub-area at Level 1 proficiency.

IFAC: International Federation of Accountants is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies.

In Progress: One of three status levels at which students are identified within PERT; the student’s employment has been confirmed by Program Manager in PERT. The student is now in progress and able to accumulate practical experience. See also Student Status (PERT)

Legacy program: A Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified General Accountant (CGA) certification program.

Mentor: A CPA, or another individual otherwise approved by a CPA Ontario under the requirements contained in this document, who provides guidance to CPA Ontario students on competency development, and who models and facilitates the understanding of the CPA profession’s values, ethics and attitudes.

Pending Enrollment: One of three status levels at which students are identified within PERT; the student is awaiting employment confirmation in PERT from the Program Manager. See also Student Status (PERT)

PER Effective Date:  The practical experience requirements (PER) Effective date is the date in PERT that practical experience will begin to accumulate towards your practical experience requirement.  Any experience accumulated after the PER effective date is considered CURRENT experience and is reported through CURRENT experience reports.  Any experience accumulated before the PER effective date is considered PRIOR and is reported through PRIOR experience reports.  All CPA students are eligible to claim up to 12 months of prior experience that they accumulated in the last 5.5 years.

PER Standard Met: One of three status levels at which students are identified within PERT; a student has met all the CPA Practical Experience Requirements (CPA PER). See also Student Status (PERT)

PERT Report Status – Admin Assess (for “catch-up reports” only): Catch-up report has been successfully submitted to CPA Ontario for review.

PERT Report Status – Assessment Requested: Profession Assessment has been properly signed off by the Program Leader and is now in queue with CPA Ontario to be assigned to an officer for review.

PERT Report Status – Cancelled: Report was cancelled by the student or CPA Ontario staff.

PERT Report Status – Certification Requested: Student has requested a Profession Assessment and it is now with the Program Leader awaiting sign-off before it can go to CPA Ontario for review.

PERT Report Status – Completed: The experience reports reviewed are sufficient for Practical Experience Requirements and the Officer has approved the experience reports (duration is officially recognized at this point and is viewable in the students consolidated summary in their online PERT account).

PERT Report Status – Follow-up: The Officer does not agree with assessment content and has provided notes (found in the Assessment Comments box) as to what updates are required (when the student resubmits the assessment for review the six-week processing period resets on that date).

PERT Report Status – New: The student has created an experience report and is in the process of filling out the technical and enabling competency requirements.

PERT Report Status – Required: Assessment has been assigned to an Employer Relations Officer (Reviewer) and is currently under review (processing time is approximately six weeks).

PERT Report Status – Verified: The student has submitted their report for verification, and may proceed with requesting a Profession Assessment to have the report(s) reviewed/months granted by CPA Ontario.

Practical Experience Reporting Log (PERL): The online tool for CPA Ontario students to report their practical experience in Quebec.

Practical Experience Reporting Tool (PERT): The online tool for CPA Ontario students to report their practical experience. PERT is used in all Canadian provinces/regions, with the exception of Quebec.

Pre-approved program leader: The senior CPA responsible for an office’s preapproved program(s). This individual is sufficiently senior to adjust the duties of CPA students to provide opportunities to obtain the technical and enabling competencies required of the training program. See also CPA pre-approved program, Mentor and Supervisor.

Prior experience: Practical experience gained before the PER effective date (limited to 12 months, and must have taken place within 5.5 years from the PER effective date).

Profession assessment: Students request a Profession Assessment to have their experience recognized by CPA Ontario. This is submitted when a student believes they have satisfied the PER, or they are leaving their current PPR.

Proficiency level: At the point of certification, CPA Ontario students are expected to demonstrate competence (a combination of attitude, skill, and knowledge) at defined levels of proficiency. Three distinct and progressively higher levels of proficiency are described, reflecting the increase in the ability of CPA Ontario students throughout the program. Complexity, circumstance, and autonomy are considered in determining proficiency levels. Generally, as complexity increases and/or routine work decreases and/or autonomy increases, the proficiency level increases. There are three levels of proficiency:

  1. Level 0 — Experience that is at an administrative or clerical level.
  2. Level 1 — Experience that is at the professional level but lower than that expected of a newly certified CPA. This can include experience with tasks that are routine in nature, of a low level of complexity, and/or are executed with little autonomy.
  3. Level 2 — The experience level expected of a newly certified CPA.

See also Autonomy, Circumstance, and Complexity.

CPA Ontario: A professional accounting body that is a member of CPA Canada.

Public accounting: Audit, review and compilation activities as defined herein.

Public practice: Activities typically undertaken by CPA offices, including public accounting activities.

Regional body: An organization that has been approved to deliver the CPA certification program, excluding accredited institutions.

Registration: The right to offer public accounting services granted by CPA provincial/regional bodies to CPAs and CPA firms. Registration is mandatory for CPAs and CPA firms that provide public accounting services. Individual CPAs and CPA firms that have earned this right are “registered,” and referred to as “CPA registrants,” as defined above. Note that provincial/regional registration may also be required for other regulated services.

Reporting: CPA students are required to capture all Practical Experience in experience reports using the online Practical Experience Reporting Tool (PERT). The reports contain factual information such as the type of experience being obtained (through experience verification or through a pre-approved program) and duration, as well as an assessment of the experience. See also Assessment.

Review: A review of historical financial statements and other financial information as set out in the current CPA Canada Handbook – Assurance.

Review stream: Qualifies candidates for registration to provide review and compilation services as defined herein.

Secondment: Qualifying experience obtained outside of the Pre-Approved Program (PPR) that does not require CPA Ontario students to switch to Experience Verification (EVR). Secondment periods are limited to a maximum of 12 months.

Self-employed: When an individual works for him/herself as a freelancer or is the owner of a business rather than for an employee.

Student Status (PERT): Students are identified within PERT at one of three different status levels at any given time:

  1. In Progress: The student’s employment has been confirmed by a Program Manager in a pre-approved program in PERT. The student is now in progress and able to accumulate practical experience. In the Experience Verification Route (EVR), the student’s pre-assessment has been approved and the student has a mentor in place.
  2. Pending Enrollment: Student is awaiting employment confirmation in PERT from the Program Manager.
  3. PER Standard Met: A student has met all the CPA practical experience requirements.

Supervisor: The person to whom CPA Ontario students report. In Experience Verification (EVR), the supervisor verifies that the experiences of CPA Ontario students are appropriately reflected in experience reports. In Pre-Approved Programs (PPR), the supervisor assigns work according to the program. Ideally, the supervisor is also a professional accountant. See also Mentor.

Technical competencies: The six abilities expected of professional accountants and performed by professional accountants in many roles in public practice, industry, and the public sector. For the purposes of practical experience, the required technical competencies have depth, breadth and core proficiency standards. See also Competency area, CPA Competency Map, Depth, Breadth, Core and Enabling competencies.

Volunteer: Experience where there is no financial gain for the individual.