ATHE, IFA and ATHE centres work together to provide professional membership for accountants

ATHE and the Institute of Financial Accountants launch IFA Direct route to membership

ATHE and the Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) are launching the IFA Direct initiative to provide learners with a route to membership with the IFA. This initiative is being launched with a growing network of ATHE Recognised Centres approved to deliver ATHE’s Accounting qualifications and the IFA Direct initiative to learners.

IFA Direct supports learners in:

  • achieving IFA membership
  • gaining an IFA practising certificate (UK members only)
  • investing in professional development

ATHE’s range of Accounting qualifications cater for learners with different levels of knowledge, experience and ability in the accountancy sector.  ATHE Level 4, 5 and 7 Extended Diplomas in Accounting provide progression routes to both IFA membership and top-up bachelor’s and master’s degrees with universities.  The ATHE Level 3 Diploma in Accounting provides an initial pathway to these progression routes.

For further information on the range of ATHE Accounting qualifications, please view our Accounting qualifications page here.

To view the IFA Direct Brochure here.

 ATHE recognised centres interested in finding out more about joining the IFA Direct initiative as a delivery partner should contact Denise Weir at

About IFA Membership

The IFA is a full member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) the global accounting standard-setter and regulator.  Membership delivers the enhanced professional recognition and career prospects that come with being an IFA Financial Accountant or Tax Adviser. In addition, learners will receive dual membership of the Institute of Public Accountants (Australia) and be able to use the designatory letters AFA/MIPA or ATA/AIPA.

IFA membership provides access to a community of like-minded professionals who benefit from supportive branch meetings, expert technical materials and inspiring events and CPD workshops.

About the IFA Direct Programme

Fast-track route to IFA membership

If learners already hold an accounting or associated degree or have completed or part-completed a professional accounting qualification, they may not need to study all the units required to gain IFA membership (see Routes to Membership below).  The units needed to achieve Associate or Associate Tax Adviser status will depend on the course content of their degree or accountancy qualification.


Exemptions will be awarded based upon previous relevant qualifications, i.e., if learners are part-qualified with a professional body such as ACCA or AAT, or have taken modules within a degree course that are equivalent to the units required for the IFA Direct route, then exemptions may apply.

Gain a practising certificate (UK Members Only)

For UK-based members, holding an IFA practising certificate means they can offer accountancy services to the general public, with a greater range of activities than many other associations and professional bodies enable. They will also be able to undertake charity independent examinations and ATOL/Civil Aviation Authority work.

Continuing professional development

Investing in relevant and regular CPD is an important way to stay abreast of new developments and best practice in a fast-changing environment.  It can boost motivation and improve the quality of members’ work and the services they provide.

Seamless learning

The units within the ATHE qualifications provide challenging and relevant learning, with flexible delivery of assessment allowing tutors to select the most appropriate method for their learners.

Each unit is studied one at a time over a 4-6 week period and as they run continuously learners can roll off one unit straight on to another, meaning they never have to wait before starting a new subject. The whole programme can be undertaken in as little as 18 months or should learners decide they want to take a study break this can be easily arranged with the ATHE centre.

Support throughout studies

IFA Direct is designed so learners can easily study around other commitments.  The programme provides the full support of an expert academic adviser and online materials which are available 24/7.  Learners’ chosen ATHE centre will provide a bespoke learning plan along with support and guidance throughout their studies.

Tutorial support

Leaners will receive online tutorial support from their selected ATHE centre.  The number of hours of tuition is dependent upon the credit value and guided learning hours (GLH) for each individual unit (see tables below). 

Each unit incorporates:

  • online lectures
  • online resources for example, ebooks, presentations, recorded webinars, handouts, case studies, quizzes, and articles
  • personalised learning plans
  • e-books and presentations
  • tests to prepare you for the assessment
  • supervised independent learning
  • unit certification on successful completion

Independent learning

Throughout each unit learners will also need to undertake some independent study.  The number of hours devoted to self-study is dependent on the credit value of each individual unit – on average leaners need to devote 7-14 hours per week.  As everyone learns at a different rate there may be a variation in the actual time taken to complete a unit and the number of hours detailed per unit is only a guide.

Ethical practice

Ethics is embedded within the syllabus to develop the high ethical standards intrinsic to IFA membership.

Access to IFA resources

Learners will also have access to:

  • A downloadable PDF of Financial Accountant the IFA’s magazine – six times a year.
  • Access to events to help you keep up to date with important issues in the accounting world and the opportunity to network with other professionals.
  • Member-only technical resources area of the IFA website.

14 units, two routes to membership

Learners can follow either of the two routes shown below to be eligible for IFA membership as an Associate Financial Accountant or a Tax Adviser.  There is also the opportunity for UK-based members to gain an IFA practising certificate.

Associate AFA/MIPA route

LevelUnitCredit valueGLH
ATHE Level 4Financial Accounting 11560
ATHE Level 4Financial Accounting 21560
ATHE Level 4Budgetary Control1560
ATHE Level 4Cost and Management Accounting1560
ATHE Level 4Personal Taxation1560
ATHE Level 4Business Environment1560
ATHE Level 4Business Environment1560
ATHE Level 5Financial Reporting30120
ATHE Level 5Financial Management30120
ATHE Level 5Financial and Management Control30120
ATHE Level 5Business Taxation1560
ATHE Level 5Assurance1560
ATHE Level 7Corporate Reporting for Strategic Business – Advanced2060
ATHE Level 7UK Taxation for Business and Individuals2060

Tax Adviser ATA/AIPA route

LevelUnitCredit valueGLH
ATHE Level 4Financial Accounting 11560
ATHE Level 4Financial Accounting 21560
ATHE Level 4Personal Taxation1560
ATHE Level 4Business Environment1560
ATHE Level 4Law for Accounting1560
ATHE Level 5Business Taxation1560
ATHE Level 7UK Taxation for Business and Individuals2060

Detailed information on each unit’s aims, learning outcomes and assessment criteria is available in the relevant ATHE qualification specifications at by visiting our Accounting qualifications page. 

Credit value

This is the number of credits that will be awarded to a learner who has achieved each unit.  The credits that learners achieve accumulate and can be used towards completion of the full ATHE Accounting qualifications or can be transferred towards additional study, for example a top-up degree.

Guided learning hours (GLH)

This is an estimate of the amount of guided learning, on average, required to achieve a unit to the appropriate standard. 

Applying for the IFA Direct programme

Individuals not currently enrolled with an ATHE recognised centre should download and complete the IFA Direct application form and send with copies of all relevant education transcripts and certificates to the education team at  The team will assess the documents and be in touch with a recommended route tailored to individual requirements and advise on any exemptions that apply.

Learners currently enrolled with ATHE recognised centres who wish to progress to IFA membership should discuss this in the first instance with their centre contact, who may refer to the relevant ATHE Accounting qualifications page or contact