What's the difference between ACA and ACCA?



Some harsh, brutal and cruel facts for foreign students seeking an accountancy job in the UK: forget about what universities have been telling you about UK job market. All they care is endless international students coming to do courses, paying international rate fees. Even career services don’t really have a clue in terms of helping international students getting a job in the UK, even they do, lots of stuff they won’t tell you.

First of all, forget about your Master or PhD. In many developing countries, higher degrees do make you stand out, even it’s not relevant to the job. But in the UK where experiences outweigh degrees, you are lucky these higher degrees won’t count against you! A 2:1 degree from a UK university (in particular Russell group) has far better chance of landing a job here than a one year Master and a foreign bachelor degree. The earlier you start your education in the UK the better. For example, if you come here at age of 17 and done A levels, first degree, you have a far better chance landing a job than someone just one year in the country finishing a Master.

Secondly, don’t self study ACCA. Colleges market heavily sorts of full time ACCA or ACCA + MBA courses. I know many foreign students who funded their own studies; worked in supermarkets, takeaways and shops and passed all exams and become an affiliate. Recruiters don’t value at all - overqualified and no relevant experience! Decent Accountancy firms won’t take them as if they look for trainees they would take on UK graduates going down ACA route. Only jobs they can get are some low level finance assistant roles, or some small cheeky firms asking them to do those dirty legwork, letting them fund ACCA themselves…and of course no prospect of being made permanent (they are not going to spend on sponsoring your tier 2 visas) or progression. No single qualification course alone can help you land a good job. It’s all about experience experience experience, what jobs have you done in the UK blah blah blah …

So get a job that the employer would support your study - a proper training contract. I know it’s hard but better than not knowing the whole picture and waste your money - as well as your valuable time! Or if you can’t find a job, although no harm getting some temporary work experience before returning home, I would not waste more time here. So many people are trying their luck in the UK or feel ashamed just going back like this. However many have told me they rather getting a job back home, in a fast growing economy where your education and oversea experience are more valued than doing low level legwork and being taken advantaged of.

An extra note, your English level must be very high and you need to have good understanding of culture here. Successfully completing a degree in a UK university doesnt mean your English is good enough to fit in work environment. If you sit down with a few English graduates and easily get excluded from their discussion, or don’t know many stuff they are referring to, you are much less likely to impress interviewers or pass AC :frowning:


I just now finished studying at university my accountancy degree and currently deciding on whether I should study now ACCA, CIMA or ACA. Predicted to graduate next month with a 2.2. My university taught the accountancy modules based on the ACCA syllabus so if I want to do ACCA I will get exemptions for 7 of those ACCA modules and only need to do 7 more ACCA modules and do the 3 years work experience. I’m not too interesting in studying CIMA as it’s only based on the management aspect of accounting and not on the accounting field as a whole like ACCA. Only recently thought about the ACA option, don’t know whether I should take the ACA option instead. As I know, both ACA and ACCA are similar and both popular. Going to make my final decision after I have graduated from university.

How much does it cost to study ACCA and in per module or per semister? Been checking the ACCA website but can’t find it. Where do most of you study the ACCA in London? Is it from home or from an accountancy learning centre like Kapalan or BPP in London?


Why not go for something a bit more challenging like the Corporate Finance qualification.
Look on the ICAEW website.
You have already spent 3 years doing accountancy!!


Check this link out
Go to page 11 and the next few pages from there it shows on graphs and tables the comparison of ACCA with ACA and CIMA and other accounting bodies in terms on members. From there it shows ACA is nearly 2x popular than ACCA in the uk. At international level, popularity of both are similar yet the number of members joining ACCA recently is growing faster than those joining ACA. This information makes my decision on whether to study ACCA or ACA now more harder.

@ tutor, I’m sticking to the accounting field. If I did accounting and finance at university I may have thought of learning corporate finance. What are you studying now or already studied? Did you chose ACA or ACCA?


MA FCA . specialising in taxation.


Surely ACA is better. Being (ICAEW)'s member you will have a very good prestige. There is no any kind of doubt that ICAEW is more challenging and prestigious all over the world.Earlier,I had decided to go for ACCA. But it was an ACCA member who adviced me to go for ACA. I am also a chartered accountant in India.so,I am a member of ICAI. I joined ICAEW under MOU signed in between ICAI and ICAEW. I have seen several ACCA’s who want to be the member of ICAEW. SO,dear friend go for ACA.


I found a very interesting statistic couple of weeks ago. 57% of all ACCA members are outside the UK. 26% of CIMA members and 15% of ICAEW members are outside the UK respectively. Therefore the ACCA is by far the most globally recognised accountancy qualification. The ACCA is currently growing faster than ACA and is the most popular accounting qualification being studying at the moment compared to ACA and CIMA. The ICAEW qualification says in it’s name that it’s mainly for UK. Both ACCA and ACA qualifications are similar so there is nothing with studying either of them. I know some students struggle with studying the ACA and decided to study the ACCA instead. It’s very rare you see the reverse happen and there is no point of learning both.


I have read all the comments. I have noticed some things that people are highlighting their own body and finding out the faults of others. It’s bad and very bad. This is not expected from the professional person like you. OK your body may be greater than ACCA or ICAEW or AICPA or CIMA but that doesn’t mean that you should criticize them. Criticism from the educated person like you represents that you are educated but very narrow minded. And people realize that your body is the best accounting body in the world but it has some narrow minded people. it’s bad.

ICAEW shows respect to ACCA and vice-verse.
They have a very good relation to each other.

Do you know this?

  1. If you are a member of ACCA, you can join ICAEW without any types of exam.
  2. If you have a UK-practicing license of ACCA, you can gain ICAEW practicing license by just an application.

If ACCA is worse. So why a body like ICAEW will recognize.


I have read all the comments. I have noticed some things that people are highlighting their own body and finding out the faults of others. It’s bad and very bad. This is not expected from the professional person like you. OK your body may be greater than ACCA or ICAEW or AICPA or CIMA but that doesn’t mean that you should criticize them. Criticism from the educated person like you represents that you are educated but very narrow minded. And people realize that your body is the best accounting body in the world but it has some narrow minded people. it’s bad


Hey guys, bit of advise needed here. I’m currently doing my ACCA exams after finishing my FIA papers, I have work experience in many service sectors but no accounting experience. I have my GCEs and a diploma in an unrelated field.
I intend to finish and pass all my fundamentals by this dec 13. I heard big4 only hires ACCA grads if they have finished all fundamentals. Which by my planning is ok because I was thinking of continuing my professional papers while working at big4 and I need 3 years experience to grad with an ACCA qualification so it’s a 2-for-1.
I’m not in the UK in fact I’m in Singapore but I’m worried that my lack of experience and lack of qualifications might render it hard for me to find a job at the big4 before i’ve completed my professional papers.

pls advise!


Oh dear - some inacurate comments here regarding ACCA so let’s clarify. ACCA is a little more flexible with entry requirements however, if you do not meet their specified criteria you will be required to do all of their rigorous exams without exemption. You are required to do a minimum of 3 years practical experience. If this is gained pre-qualification and you want to gain a practice certificate you must do a further 18-24 months practical experience with a recognised organisation. In addition you must complete the Practical Experience Objectives and have these records signed off by your workplace mentor to certify that you have achieved the minimum amount of competences. I chose ACCA as I was working fulltime and able to study therefore with BPP and Kaplan distance learning. The qualification is well recognised in Europe where I am currently based and the big 4 seem to look upon it favourably. I have just qualified and was immediately offered a choice of 2 jobs within international companies, one of which I have accepted. This was great for me as I have experience in accounting and taxation in Europe, but also have the Tax and Audit papers for the UK. Are you UK or Europe based/focused? It’s up to you.


The big 4 also hire students and people looking for short term work experience so just apply - they won’t kill you, they can only say no and you can reapply at any time.


Dave - Im reading this comment late but your comments hit some. Is it preferred to do the ICAS for the CA if you’re a finance professional with no previous accounting qualification? If you could email me a response to mattcherian"at"lycos.com, Id appreciate a confidential answer. Thank you,


In 1997 the Privy Council which governs all professional bodies in the UK and Commonwealth gave members of the CACA (certified association of corporate accountants) the right to prefix their titles with the word chartered.

Before this they were known as certified accountants. The change of status occurred because the Privy Council gave the CACA a royal charter and therefore its members were now fully entitled to call themselves chartered accountants in much the same way that the ICAEW and ICAS had been allowed to do for many years due to their established chartered status. The new ACCA exam syllabus and content were modelled on the other chartered bodies so they were equally as hard although ACCA have changed there final exams criteria which used to specify that all 3 final papers were taken and passed in one sitting. Unfortunately this in my mind should remove ACCA back away from a chartered status unless you qualified before the change.

This new found chartered status did not just affect the CACA but also affected members of CIMA and CIPFA who were also now allowed to refer to themselves as chartered accountants. To reflect this new status the CACA changed its name to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and chose to allow its members to refer to themselves as Chartered Certified Accountants in order to differentiate themselves from other chartered accountants. However, the Privy Council directive of 25 August 1996 makes it clear that all members of the CCAB bodies are equally entitled to refer to themselves as chartered accountants if they so wish.

If you become a member of one of the CCAB bodies and for one reason or another you wish to become a member of one of the other chartered accountancy bodies then it will mean that you will have to take additional exams. For example, if you are a member of the ICAEW and you wish to also become a member of the ACCA, perhaps to allow yourself to work in some jurisdictions where the ICAEW is not recognised, then you will need to take the final level exams of the ACCA in order to become a member of this body. The reverse will also apply.

However, all of the chartered accountancy bodies are deemed to be of equal standard, ie. masters degree level, and from a scrutiny of recruitment adverts in business journals you can see clearly for yourself that the remuneration which is paid to members of all bodies is of the same standard which recognises this equality of status.

As for what your friend has told you, I can only assume that he/she is getting confused with the Association of Accounting Technician (AAT) exams which are of a much lower level that those of the chartered accountancy exams which are promoted by the CCAB bodies.

Once qualified as a chartered accountant you will not need to take exams every year but you will need to undertake Continuing Professional Education (CPE) which could take the form of attending courses or reading magazines in order to ensure that your technical knowledge is kept up to date. This is because accountancy and taxation legislation changes frequently and it is very important that you keep abreast of developments.


Not sure if you have made decision as only just come across this myself. If you are planning to come to the UK and stay then I suggest you get on an ACA or CA training contract. If you plan to work in UK For a few years then go back to Asia then do ACCA as it is the global standard in accountancy, however make sure you do all the 5 final papers in two sittings. I say this because ACCA for some bizarre reason have changed their final exam criteria whereas before you had to take and pass all your final 3 papers in one sitting they now allow you to take one at a time. I am an FCCA and feel that all the hard work we went through to get our chartered status back in 1996 and raising the bar for membership has been totally lost now. Go for ACA or ICAS as they have now gone back ahead as a much harder and better qualification to have.


Just to clarify. The Professional papers in ACCA (‘P’) comprise options depending on the route you want to go down for example advanced tax and audit. You have to choose 2 papers to specialise in then go on to take your final 3 ‘P’ papers. You are able to take these final 3 one at a time whereas up until June 2006 you had no choice but to take and pass the 3 final papers at the same sitting. I suggest you therefore take all the 5 ‘P’ papers in 2 sittings to differentiate and put yourselves in the top tier of people applying for accountancy roles. I now ask to see evidence of how ACCA students took their finals.


I am from Mumbai dozen of the friends & even from my family member are qualified chartered accountant from ICAI, I asked them this same question whether ACCA is been considered in India, forget about recognized but most of the people don’t even know what this means and the one who knows don’t give a damn! why just compare the passing rate of acca & ICAI. With all due respect to ACCA but as a accounts professional working in accountancy from more than 16 years I conclude (even if no one gives a dam, i don’t care) that ACCA is far & very below ACA. Every country has it’s own chartered body, for US, it is CPA, for Scotland ICAS, India ICAI & similarly for UK fundamentally it is ICAEW & not ACCA just do not forget.


i am very confused about my future program…which one should i chose from ACA and ACCA ?
which will be better…now i am student of B.Com


This is a proper zombie thread, but still, people might look it up, so might as well have a summary at the top:

ACCA: roughly the same subject matter, more flexible with exam sittings, more flexible with professional experience. If you’re working in industry, ACCA may be your only choice. Equal legal recognition with ACA, definitely less prestigious in the UK, but probably better know in many countries, including a lot of European countries.

ACA: more stringent rules on exam sittings, practical experience component is focused on public practice, more prestigious in the UK, associated with Big 4.

Both are fab qualifications to have, both require a big investment of time and hard work, but the ACA is better perceived in the UK and thus ‘better’ - not better because you learn more, mind you, just better because it opens more doors. Still, once you’re 10 years in the profession, very few people will judge you based on ACA vs ACCA. But ACA, if you can get it, is arguably a better start for your career.


I notice you are a student, so either you intend to apply for ACA/ACCA schemes, or you intend to self-study.

If you want to apply for schemes, both ACA and ACCA are great, ACA maybe a bit better. However, I would not base a decision between graduate schemes on ACA vs ACCA, but on things like what kind of study support the company offers, salary, location, how does the actual work experience look on your CV. ACA vs ACCA is really secondary.

On the other hand however, if you plan on self-study, I’d definitely recommend ACCA. ACCA is much more accessible for a self-studier in terms of getting books and other material, in terms of not needing to register with a learning provider, in terms of flexibility with exam sittings, and in terms of simply being able to pass all papers without being on a training contract. That being said, before you invest considerable time and money into self-study, do make sure that it makes sense for you to do so. I self-studied ACCA for a few months, and I don’t regret it, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense for everyone.