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The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) is a professional institute for accountants working in the public services.

CIPFA has 14,000 members who work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be managed. CIPFA is the only UK professional accountancy body to specialise in public services. The qualifications include the benchmark professional qualification for public sector accountants as well as a postgraduate diploma for people already working in leadership positions.

CIPFA promotes public finance globally by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. CIPFA works with governments, accounting bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support its professionals.

CIPFA is a member of the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies, the umbrella organisation for the British accountancy profession. It also belongs to the International Federation of Accountants.

CIPFA’s regional branches cover the Channel Islands, Europe, Midlands, North East, North West & North Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, South East, South West & South Wales and Yorkshire & the Humber.


Members of CIPFA are entitled to style themselves Chartered Public Finance Accountant and use the designatory letters CPFA.


CIPFA began life as the Corporate Treasurers’ and Accountants’ Institute in 1885, which was later renamed the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants (IMTA) in 1901. This later became the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in 1973 when it obtained its Royal Charter.


The Professional Qualification

The CIPFA qualification delivers the skills required for working in local government, the NHS, central government, voluntary sector or private sector firms dealing with public services.

Certificate in Charity Finance & Accountancy

Designed by CIPFA and London South Bank University - designed to meet the needs of those working in the finance functions of charities.

Certificate in International Treasury Management - Public Finance

A professional qualification in the fundamentals of treasury management for the public services developed by both CIPFA and the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT).

CIPFA Certificate Investigative Practice Qualification (CCIP)

Aimed primarily at investigators who have some experience but who lack any formal qualification. MSc Accounting & Finance (top-up) for professionally qualified accountants holding the CIPFA qualification achieved by examination A Masters top up programme to recognise the level and depth of the Accounting qualification. To complete the MSc Accounting and Finance you are required to study a research methods module, one further academic module and complete a dissertation.


CIPFA students who have successfully completed the CIPFA Professional Accountancy Qualification and their Practical Experience Portfolio (PEP) are invited to apply for CIPFA Membership. Once membership is approved members can use the designatory letters ‘CPFA’ (Chartered Public Finance Accountant) for as long as they continue membership.

There are two further routes to membership, known as Bye-Laws 5 and 6.These are normally ‘sponsored’ by Council members or Institute Directors, and are therefore people who the Institute has worked with closely within financial management and accountancy within the public services.

Mutual recognition

CIPFA and the Society of Management Accountants of Canada signed a mutual recognition agreement in February 2004.

CMA/CIPFA Dual Qualification and Designations

CIPFA and CMA Canada have a dual qualification which provides Canadian public sector employees with comprehensive financial management and leadership training.

On completing the programme, candidates can apply for dual public finance management and accounting designations as a Chartered Public Finance Accountant (CPFA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) from CIPFA and CMA Canada respectively.

CIPFA and CPA Australia signed a mutual recognition agreement in June 2007.

Although not strictly a form of mutual recognition, CIPFA members of 5 years standing may apply for direct entry to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales subject to meeting certain criteria.


The CIPFA Group includes, in addition to the main accounting body; Public Finance - a monthly magazine for the public sector; the in-house CIPFA Education and Training Centre with almost 3,000 students at locations across the UK, and works with other places of learning to provide courses locally; and a commercial services arm which provided advice and services for the public sector. They include information and guidance, courses and conferences, property and asset management solutions, consultancy and interim people for a range of public sector clients.

External links

  • Professional Oversight Board

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