The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants is a global body of professional accountants based out of UK. If you want to pursue a global career in accounting, getting enrolled and completing this program will stand you in good stead. The ACCA, like the CPA (US) is a program focused on international standards in accounting and will catapult you into a global chartered accountancy career. It is also not as cumbersome to apply for and appear as the CPA (US) and could be an alternative to somebody who wants to either practice abroad or work in a global accounting setup within India.
In order to be eligible to apply for the ACCA program:
• You need to have cleared your HSC with 65% and above in at least 2 subjects and 50% and above in others
• Subjects should include English and Mathematics / Accounts
• If the candidates have a higher degree in accounting they can avail exemptions in some subjects of the course
To qualify as an ACCA member, in addition to clearing the exam, candidates need to complete 3 years of relevant work experience.
Who should do an ACCA?
The ACCA is a large professional body spread across several countries. An ACCA qualification is well respected in the industry. If you have a flair for accounting and want to pursue it as a career in a global context, it is a great choice. It is not necessary to be a CA to do this course. The course is also not overly expensive considering the fact that you will have a global accounting qualification at the end.
An ACCA is apt for you if:
1) You are strong in Maths / Accounting and are looking at commerce and accounting courses after HSC
The ACCA can be taken as soon as you have cleared your HSC. It makes sense to start early with such courses if you are reasonably sure you want to make a career in this field
2) You already have an accounting / M.Com / CA background
It is intuitively the next step for a candidate looking for a global accounting career. The CA or M.Com courses will give you a lot of exemptions, as many subjects will be related
3) You are looking at a global career or are planning to shift to the UK
If you are moving to the UK, either being sent by your firm or as a result of a personal decision, finding an accounting job there or doing your existing accounting job well there will be easier after having done this course
4) You want to deepen your knowledge in accounting
If you are already in the financial or management accounting domain, especially working in a global firm, an ACCA will broaden your horizons as well as career progression prospects
5) You want to improve your resume and role
ACCA is a globally recognized degree and speaks about your proficiency in accounting topics tested over 14 rigorous exams spread over a few years. This will definitely add to your resume and market value
Skills Required :
1) Flair for accounting, laws and regulations:
The candidate would need to be comfortable with accounting. There will also be numerous laws, regulations and accounting standards to memorize. Not only do you need this for the exam, pursuing this course would mean you end up with an accounting career for good, so it is best that you have a keen interest in it.
2) Quantitative and analytical ability:
Number crunching will be part and parcel of the exam as well as this career.
The entire course has 14 exams and it may take up to 3-4 years to complete the course. Efforts will need to be made in a consistent manner over a relatively long period of time.
A lot of candidates have benefitted from enrolling in coaching institutes to help them understand tough concepts, manage their study time and practice mock tests. Having regular discussions with a peer group also greatly helps in understanding complex topics.
Details of the program:
Exams / Subjects:
There are 14 exams in 14 subjects covering different topics in financial and management accounting.
The exams are split into 2 levels – Fundamental and Professional, which are the basics and advanced levels of accounting respectively.
• Fundamentals Knowledge
o F1 Accountant in Business
o F2 Management Accounting
o F3 Financial Accounting
• Fundamentals Skills
o F4 Corporate and Business Law
o F5 Performance Management
o F6 Taxation
o F7 Financial Reporting
o F8 Audit and Assurance
o F9 Financial Management
• Professional Essentials
o P1 Governance, Risk and Ethics
o P2 Corporate Reporting
o P3 Business Analysis
• Professional Options (two of the 4 below need to be completed)
o P4 Advanced Financial Management
o P5 Advanced Performance Management
o P6 Advanced Taxation
o P7 Advanced Audit and Assurance
Apart from the above, candidates are also required to appear for a Professional Ethics module. As discussed earlier, exemptions in some subjects can be availed if you meet certain education parameters.
• All exams are offered as a paper test and a few exams are also offered as a computer based test
o Knowledge (F1-F3) - available by computer-based exams (CBE) or paper-based format
o Skills (F4-F9) - available by paper-based format
o Essentials (P1-P3) - available by paper-based format
o Options (P4-P7) - available by paper-based format
• Most exams are of a 2 hour duration
• Most exams have a mix of multiple choice questions and MTQs (Multi-Task Questions), which are a bit like cases
• The ACCA has around 400 exam centers across the globe, including several within India
Exam difficulty level: The ACCA exam is challenging, however when compared with the US CPA, it seems a tad easier to handle
• Although there are more papers, there are also more exemptions compared to US CPA
• Pass rates:
o Knowledge level pass rates are fairly high at 60-80%
o Skills levels pass rates are 40-50%
o Professional Essentials pass rates are also 40-50%
o Professional Options pass rates are somewhat low at 30-40%
• Once you register, you have a 10 year timeframe in which to complete all 14 exams
• There are 2 exam cycles / seasons in a year
o Feb to July
o Aug to Jan
• Paper based exams are offered in June and December while computer based exams are flexible
• One can appear for maximum 4 exams per cycle
• Exams must be appeared for in the order of the module they are under. Within the module, you can take the exams in any order
o For example, you cannot take F4 before F3. You can, however take F3 before F2 or F1 because they are part of the same module
o It is recommended though that candidates follow the given order from F1 to P7 for better comprehension and results
Practical Experience and Practice Certificate:
• In addition to clearing the exams and completing the Ethics module, to become an ACCA you need to have 3 years of relevant work experience
• The ACCA dictates certain performance objectives that you need to attain
• In order to be able to be globally practicing ACCA member, you have to undergo a Practicing Certificate Training Record (PCTR) in addition to having the practical experience. More details on this are available on the ACCA website
Fees (please refer to website for latest fees):
Assuming you don’t pay late and clear all exams in the first attempt, the total cost will be ~GBP 1,300 or INR 1.25 L
• Knowledge level: GBP 71 to GBP 231 per exam (depending on whether you register early or late)
• Skills level: GBP 90 to GBP 252 per exam (depending on whether you register early or late)
• Professional level: GBP 104 to GBP 268 per exam (depending on whether you register early or late)