Questions to Ask When Choosing Your CFE Role

An important decision that you will make in the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP) is deciding what role to assume in the Common Final Exam (CFE) as you are evaluated on this role during Day 2 of the three-day CFE. Below we offer suggestions on what to consider when selecting that role.

What does the elective include?

While you need to select the role when you register for Capstone 1, you should be thinking about the role when you select which elective modules to complete. CFE roles are based on the CPA PEP elective for the area; review the CPA Competency Map to see what competencies the elective module covers to gain an understanding of what will be evaluated for that role on the CFE. You can choose any role on the CFE, though you are more likely to be successful if you completed an elective in that area.

What are your strengths?

Your strengths include your technical skills and the experience you have. For example, candidates who have no audit or assurance work experience are less likely to be successful if they choose the assurance role, even if they have completed the assurance elective. Because of the complex nature of auditing and assurance work, candidates are unlikely to gain the full understanding of the required competencies through only studying them. If you work in financial reporting in industry, consider Performance Management, Tax, or Finance as your electives if you have never worked in audit or assurance.

Do I need a public practice license?

Each province has specific requirements and regulations regarding licensure; however, a practice license is required for individuals who sign off on audit, review, and other assurance engagements, and may also be required for CPAs who perform compilation engagements and other regulated services:

  • Candidates who wish to earn the right to licensure in audit or assurance as part of their CPA designation must complete the Tax and Assurance electives, select the Assurance role on the CFE and demonstrate a depth in Assurance and Financial Reporting on the CFE, and meet practical experience requirements that include specific chargeable hour requirements in the performance of audit and/or assurance engagements.
  • In some provinces, candidates who wish to be permitted to perform compilation engagements must complete the Tax elective and meet the practical experience requirements including specific chargeable hour requirements. Check with your provincial CPA body for details.

If you are currently working in industry, you should choose a role in the CFE that will position you to be successful in passing the exam. And if you decide later in your career that you wish to obtain a public practice license, you can complete a bridging program to public practice licensure post certification.

Your provincial CPA body will have additional information about specific requirements and bridging programs:

BC/Yukon

Alberta

Saskatchewan

Manitoba

Northwest Territories/Nunavut

So, when choosing your role for the CFE, remember:

  • Review the CPA Competency Map for detail on what the electives cover, especially if you have been granted exemption from the electives.
  • You are more likely to be successful on the CFE if you choose a role that corresponds with one of the CPA PEP elective modules you complete.
  • You can obtain a public practice license after you earn your CPA designation.