Brief presentation of the italian accountancy profession
Following the provisions of the law, the new profession is distinguished into two levels which differ for the scope and level of professional activities. In details, the two levels require two different university degrees, thus creating a strict connection between the academic path and the professional activity concretely exercised by members. For the basic level – Section B, Esperti Contabili – applicants must achieve at least a BA degree in economics and business administration (lasting 3 years), while for enrolling in Section A, Dottori Commercialisti, applicants must achieve at least an MBA degree in economics and business administration (lasting 5 years). Before entering the register, applicants are also required to gain technical experience, i.e. complete a three years training period with a registered professional or professional partnership, and pass a specific State examination. The new professional body resulting from the reform law is the Consiglio Nazionale dei Dottori Commercialisti e degli Esperti Contabili (CNDCEC), which is the competent authority and the only professional body of accountants in Italy, and will be operating effectively from 2008.
Professional titles of recognised and regulated professions
Professionals can be registered as
- Dottore Commercialista (Section A)
- Esperto Contabile (Section B)
The use of the professional title for the provision of professional services is reserved to registered members, although most of the professional activities are not strictly reserved to registered members. The functional title for audit activity is "revisore contabile" and can only be used by persons registered in the ministerial role, as explained in the dedicated paragraph.
After gaining the academic degree, and in order to be admitted to the state examination, a three years training period in a professional firm is required. Those who have undertaken the 5 years university degree may start the training on the fourth year of university. This has to be performed under the supervision of a Dottore Commercialista or an Esperto Contabile, who has been registered for at least five years. The training program is based on theoretical and practical knowledge and skills that have to be acquired during the three years. Trainees are also subject to ethics rules.
The State examination is different for the two sections as to the level of difficulty, and the inclusion of tax litigation for the section A. The examination is structured as follows: three written examinations and one oral examination. Written examinations include:
- Technical subjects: accounting, auditing, business administration of industrial, commercial and financial sector, financial analysis and professional techniques, IT knowledge.
- Juridical subjects: civil law, corporate law, insolvency procedures, tax law, labour law, procedural civil law.
The profession of Dottore Commercialista and Esperto Contabile in Italy is conceived as a global economic-juridical profession in which auditing is only one of the different professional activities, and where 97% of the members are professionals in public practice. The largest share of professional activities is addressed to SMEs, through the provision of a range of consultancy services to the client, where the interdisciplinary character of the assignment is a crucial element. In the auditing field members are nominated as external auditors or components of an audit committee (Collegio sindacale), which is an internal body in the governance structure of medium-large limited liability firms. Alternatively high qualified members can be appointed in Board of Directors of medium-big sized firms, but not on an employment basis.
Scope of activities
The profession has a recognized competency in the areas of:
- Business administration.
- Corporate law.
- Finance and taxation, thus including the following activities or roles:
- Administration and winding up of companies and entrusted assets.
- Expert witness.
- Member of audit committees.
- Accounting services.
- Tax filing.
- Tax assurance services.
- Audit of financial statement and related services.
- Depository of formal documents with electronic signature.
To become an auditor (revisore contabile) there is a parallel register which is formally under the competency of the Ministry of Justice and is managed by the new professional body. A person who has gained a three-year university degree can register with the Auditor trainees'' role and become auditor after a three-year training and after passing a special examination, in compliance with the Auditing Directive. The qualification of Dottore Commercialista or Esperto Contabile directly allows to be registered as auditor as well. Accordingly, members registered as Dottore Commercialista or Esperto Contabile (and Ragioniere e Perito commericale until 2008) can provide audit services in compliance with the EC Auditing Directive, but a formal registration (although automatic) in the ministerial role is required.