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Chartered accountants were the first accountants to form a professional accounting body, initially established in Scotland in 1854. The Edinburgh Society of Accountants , the Glasgow Institute of Accountants and Actuaries and the Aberdeen Society of Accountants were each granted a royal charter almost from their inception. The title is an internationally recognised professional designation, and is generally equivalent to the American certified public accountant designation.

Chartered accountants were the first accountants to form a professional accounting body, initially established in Scotland in 1854. The Edinburgh Society of Accountants (formed 1854), the Glasgow Institute of Accountants and Actuaries (1854) and the Aberdeen Society of Accountants (1867) were each granted a royal charter almost from their inception. The title is an internationally recognised professional designation, and is generally equivalent to the American certified public accountant designation.

Chartered accountants work in all fields of business and finance, including audit, taxation, financial and general management. Some are engaged in public practice work, others work in the private sector and some are employed by government bodies.

Chartered accountants' institutes require members to undertake a minimum level of continuing professional development to stay professionally competitive.

They facilitate special interest groups (for instance, entertainment and media, or insolvency and restructuring) which lead in their fields. They provide support to members by offering advisory services, technical helplines and technical libraries. They also offer opportunities for professional networking, career and business development.