Is Chartered the best route to qualification?

Rolls Royce

Traditionally the view was always that as you needed to pay for your articles this was the most prestigous of all the accounting qualifications and when you could out FCA against you name you had truly arrived in the world of business. I well remember my father telling stories that when he was articled he had to clean the Rolls Royce of the senior partner twice a week, address him as Sir and never enter his office unless he was summonsed. How things have moved on! So has the world of accountancy and audit moved on since those days.
The spread of accountancy qualifications across Europe in particular and also in Africa has meant that ACCA is now much sought after. The beauty of this is that it does not need a training contract and thus you can move more easily between jobs, and also have more freedom in how you study.
The entry requirements for each differ but the end result is that both end up as qualified accountants, and both can sign audit reports. Indeed many of the large partnerships are now made up of both qualifications. This raises the question what is the benefit of a training contract?
With business schools springing up all over the place and with them offering very good study facilities for ACCA is ACA really holding on to that elitist position?
Apart from these two qualifications there is also the Association of International Accountants who hold exactly the same practicing rights as ACA and ACCA.
Effectively there are now three bodies in the UK who have full audit rights. As this is so what are the benefits of a training contract and how restrictive are they? Do they limit the growth of the student? The business schools, which can also offer degrees in some cases have a fast growing reputation.
Can somebody give their views on the benefits of ACA as opposed to ACCA?


I would say that the growing number of options being made available to students looking to further their education and improve their long term prospects is on the whole a positive thing and whilst there are many people who will have a wide range of opinions on the various different merits of these courses.
There is some discussion suggestion that the ACCA is less respected than the ACA and that there is less work involved in the ACCA but equally there is a body of people that would disagree. I think this raises interesting questions in relation to the business schools and the way in which they interact with the chartered routes available.
Employers are becoming much more aware of these options and therefore anyone looking to take an easier route will not necessarily sneak under the radar. I really do think it’s horses for courses and I personally wouldn’t automatically assume that the chartered route is better, it’s what suits your career plans that matters not the perceptions of others on the strength of the course. For example some people are simply more academic than others and other individuals will be more practical and therefore what one person finds easier another will not. Make an individual choice and you’ll be much better off!


I quote ‘Employers are becoming much more aware of these options and therefore anyone looking to take an easier route will not necessarily sneak under the radar.’
I would suggest that there is no easier route .The length of the study period is exactly the same and the areas covered in ACA and ACCA are the same. The modules do give different options but I do not think that makes one more difficult than the other.
ACCA can now be partners in a LLP so I think that parity of ability and qualification exists.
Indeed I would suggest that ACCA is more difficult to achieve (yes I will be shot down for that) as there is no training contract required and thus the onus on the student to succeed requires a far greater degree of self dedication.
I agree that the choice is a personal one but the ACCA course dopes allow for the flexibility of some time in practice and some in commerce. That raises the question as to which of the two qualifications supplies a more rounded person.
The fact that both, and we should not forget The Association of International Accountants, can sign audit certificates in my view says that both institutes should rank pari passu. To add to that I would say that the training than ACCA students can get get in the Business Schools may well exceed that offered to ICAEW students.


I would agree with you in that there is no specific easier route however I’m sure that employers will have preferences for specific types of degrees undertaken in specific universities. To a certain extent I would imagine if those involved in the recruitment decision has studied with a specific university or a specific course, it is likely that they will favour students from the same educational background. I’m not saying this is always the case but I’m sure recruiters will have their own thoughts as to which route is ‘easier’ even if in reality this is not the case.



The comments you make on recruiters have an element of truth in them. The natural thinking is that your alma mater will always serve you well and thus you will favour it. However there is a multiplicity of means to rate a university and also the courses they offer. The drivers for these are many and various, which is of itself good, as it allows for good comparisons.
As for the recruiters themselves I have had significant experience with them and they are a mixed bunch. Some know the accountancy sphere well and some are just generalists. It really does depend on who you employ to recruit for you as to what type of person you will be offered for future employment.
The candidate themselves need to sell their degree and choice of university.
With many universities having business schools do you not think that they should have prominence? What are your thoughts on these schools?


I must say I am slightly confused about the precise role of these business schools and whether or not employers view them as superior or inferior to more traditional universities. I really do think it depends on the employer and the individuals involved in the decision making process, particularly if they themselves have gone to a business school.
One thing I would say that I have found by looking at those who have gone to business schools is that they often have better links with business and they are entirely geared up towards ensuring that the students have continuing development when they graduate. With there being such an emphasis being placed on the experience that individuals have whilst studying these links will be crucial to many individuals who are looking to secure long term employment. Therefore ignoring the academic side I would say there are benefits associated with business schools that are indirect but very relevant. Just another point of view to consider”


I think my view on Stella’s comments are correct in that the links the business schools have with business are essential. The business schools have always had links into business in that they use the channels of Chambers of Commerce, Rotary International and other commercial forums to present themselves. The reputation they have is that they are still considered by some to be outside of the university sphere and this for sure is unfair to them as they are at least equal.
There has to be a fresh approach from companies but it is very much open to debate how this should happen. The student can help by ensuring that their future employer is introduced to the business school during studies so that as they see you grow then the true value fo the school becomes evident, and thus the organic growth begins.