What's the difference between ACA and ACCA?



ACA/CA(ICAS or the irish one)>ACCA>CIMA…>CIPFA for your career, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

As ACA contracts are harder to get, as is getting into a big 4 - recruiters use it to screen applicants for jobs - you’ll often see “ACA” only or “Big 4 only” or must have degree 2:1 - this is to stop them having 10,000 applications arriving from Pakistan/india and loads of CVs from 50 year olds who are going to be useless at client facing work/marketing the firm. Sorry life is unfair but that is the way it goes.

Only ACA and ACCA can audit - but the reason ACA is more useful (as with ICAS and the irish one) is because its a member of GAA - global accounting alliance - this is the most useful thing if you are looking to emigrate or work abroad. ACCA is an international qualification - you can study it anywhere - but step into an australian/US/Japanese recruiters and they do not know what ACCA or ACA is - and you are immediately disadvantaging yourself in the job market.

I know a ACCA who has been trying to get work at the same level in Aus they had here for 2 years without any luck, only being offered trainee roles.

However if you are ACA (or ICAs or irish one) you are a member of GAA which means you automatically can join those countries top accounting bodies - 1 tax/law exam - no extra years qualification - unlike ACCA where you will have to do their whole qualification from scratch including 3 years PER!!!

This is what ACCA don’t tell you in their marketing hype of “internationality” - which is basically aggresively marketing in developing countries - by offering things like a free “oxford” degree…but being completely useless for getting a job unless maybe in Malaysia.

The only reason to do ACCA over ACA is becase you can’t get an ACA training contract - ACA exams have 4 sittings a year and 6 multiple choice so are actually easier to get started with and spread out than ACCA - they are both the same difficulty - i know because I switched halfway from ACCA to ACA.

CIMA/CiPFA - can’t audit - so they profess to be focus more on people etc - in CIPFA case its public sector blagging - so if you want a 20 hour flexi-week pretend unsackable job - do CIPFA - you’ll earn just as much as an ACA at a big 4 and probably more when you work out the hourly rate + benefits from being a public sector parasite. However you may get stuck in Barking and Dagenham, and have to face every day knowing you are wasting taxpayers money and deal with the dregs of society - civil servants.


More ACA branded foolishness. I know several ACCAs who had NO problem emigrating abroad - US, Australia included.

When will ACAs climb down off their imaginary pedestal???


Dave2020,I think you’ll find that a lot of ACAs/CAs in their 50s are pretty useful in their careers!
Douglas Flint CBE is a CA (understatement as he has a string of qualifications and sat on various accountancy boards. Degree from Glasgow and Harvard) is 54 and just been appointed Chairman of HSBC. He has no interfacing etc problems!!
You cannot generalise on this ACA/ACCA debate. Rather like Oxbridge versus “All the other Universities”. Many will argue that Oxbridge gives you considerably more social capital but hey, lots of grads from the Russell Group unis are doing very well too.
There are good and poor quality in both groups. Ditto for ACA/ACCA.
However, like an Oxbridge degree, ACA is perceived to be the better qualification. It’s not an imaginary pedestal, sorry, Albo. However, Dave2020 is a tad naive with some of his comments.


I’ve only read the last few posts - but remember that ACCA is generally more recognised internationally than ACA. ACA being more recognised in the UK.

Of course, this is perception, and subjective, and therefore very subject to change.

From my experience, there is little difference between the two - ACCA trainees are equally adept as ACA and vice versa.

I rather like tutor’s analogy with Oxbridge, etc,


Tutor, overall valid points but the pedestal is imaginary. Having worked extensively in both practice and industry this idea that ACA is superior to ACCA/CIMA etc is OUTDATED! I have come across some shockingly bad qualified ACAs. Of course these individuals slip through the net in all fields but this pedestal that ACAs put themselves on is imaginary and ridiculous.

It’s snobbery - on a professional level and the fact the people still perpetrate these ideas is shocking to me!


Yes but I do believe that the exam entry requirements and the exam riguor places ACA at a different academic/professional level. Whether it produces a good end product, I agree , is debatable.


But only AAT/GCSE/and 2 A levels needed to gain entry to ACA, ACCA you can gain entry via GCSE & 2 A levels. So basic entry route very similar in both…

The exam rigour is hardly that different. Don’t forget to look at the pass rates - far lower for ACCA than ACA so even if exams ‘seen’ as harder under ACA more get through so I believe it evens out there.

I’m not at all conviced ACA is in any way superior - nor do I believe ACCA/CIMA are superior. The accountancy world in teh UK needs to get its act together - quit squabbling over ‘superiority’ and have one qualification.


Albo, out of interest which are you doing? ACA or ACCA and why did you opt for it?
ICAEW for sure takes more graduate trainees than does the ACCA Institute and most of those with 2.1s and firsts. I believe (but please correct me if I’m incorrect) that the majority of ICAEW intake are grads whereas the ACCA is mainly non grads. Why do the Oxbridge/Russell group of grads with 1st and 2.1 degrees not opt for ACCA? Is there a lack of publicity to attract them?


Tutor I studied and qualified ACCA 7 years ago. I hold a degree and still had to do 12 difficult exams. I chose ACCA due to its flexibility and international standing. I worked in practice where the majority were doing ACA so it was a personal preference.

My only point is that the end product of all 3 (or 4 including CIPFA) should produce a similarly equal calibre of professional and the apparent snobbery surrounding ACA and the put downs of other qualifications has had its day.

I think this is further evidenced by the fact that ICAEW now admits ACCA qualifieds into their Institute. Or could that just be due to declining student numbers - not that I’m a cynic…


I agree entirely with your views. I find it interesting that you chose to do a different qualification to the majority of your colleagues. Good independence there! Were you offered the choice to do ACA? Presumably not a big 4 firm because I think they pretty much ask everyone to do ACA.

I think you have slightly shot your argument through the foot when you said that ACCAs may join the ICAEW. That in itself rather indicates the rankings of the two institutes. You don’t find ACAs joining the ACCA institute.

And, I have to add that ACCA membership of our institute (I’m FCA by the way) is not automatic. ACCAs must first pass the “examination of experience” which is equivalent to the advanced stage of our professional exams which our graduate trainees sit in their second year.

Ask yourself why an ACCA wants to join our Institute?


Or ask yourself why your Institute wants ACCAs. Declining membership? The mere fact that your institute now invites this says it all in my opinion.

ACCA has no need to invite ACAs to join - their membership is increasing!

I’d be interested to know just how many ACCAs go down that route - not that many I’d be willing to bet. Why would they? It holds no interest for me. I’m 100% happy with my qualification…


And no, many of the Big 4 do support ACCA (and ICAS) now - another sign of an ever changing world!


As a final point, whilst I personally think there should be one Accountancy qualification in the UK and we should do away with this squabbling over which one is better, I also find it amusing that it was the CIMA Board that rejected a merger with ICAEW.

Odd that an ‘inferior’ Institute would turn down a merger with a ‘superior’ one.


As a final point, whilst I personally think there should be one Accountancy qualification in the UK and we should do away with this squabbling over which one is better, I also find it amusing that it was the CIMA Board that rejected a merger with ICAEW.

Odd that an ‘inferior’ Institute would turn down a merger with a ‘superior’ one.


As a final point, whilst I personally think there should be one Accountancy qualification in the UK and we should do away with this squabbling over which one is better, I also find it amusing that it was the CIMA Board that rejected a merger with ICAEW.

Odd that an ‘inferior’ Institute would turn down a merger with a ‘superior’ one.


Is anyone in fact squabbling? Who is?
It is an age old debate for sure. Over rehearsed and redundant.
We are clearly both very proud of our Professions and quite rightly.
Do you recall why CIMA declined the merger? I think (but you probably know more detail) because it was going to be a takeover and CIMA would effectively become a sub group or faculty within the ICAEW?
Anyway, I do hope we have entertained the masses with our private debate, yes?
I hope you’re not an “Accountancy Age” reader? That could produce another exchange of sentiments. It’s an awful rag.


Agreed Tutor and well put!

I get Accountancy Age but read it - usually not. I do, however, recycle it.

PS By squabbling I meant the greater masses, not you and I.


i have read all the post from the first to the last…i would like some advise cause i am a little confused on what to do…i am from Greece as you all know here we are in a difficult situation…so its dificult for someone to find a job here…and much more if you font have working experience…i ve studied mathematics.so i thought to do something else instead of sitting here just trying to find job…i would like you to advise me what you think is better…
1.Go to Cyprus and study aca or acca(which is better for my country? ) while working ofcourse and if i want to come back when things are better here i ll have that experience they all want :slight_smile:
2.go to Cyprus do an mba first and then i ll choose if i want to do aca or acca
3.go again to Cyprus and try to find a job and do cfa (but i heard its very difficult and cant pass it if you dont have finance experience)
So which you thing is better way???..you find better the mba or the aca/acca???..and last but not least question if i do aca/acca can i work in finance issues eg.fiancial analyst-planner cause i think i prefer it from auditing
thanx guys if anyone can help me i would appreciate it…cause i am very confused and some months now i am loosing time


Albo/Tutor - just to clarify this isn’t a “mine’s bigger thread”- my diatribe is aimed at new students considering what to study.

People who come on here are asking for advice on which body to study with, they have not qualified with x years experience - (we can clearly see many FD’s with NO qualifications on the FTSE list so its irrelevant once you have a few years under your belt)


In the current recruitment market ACA out-earn ACCA on average, and Big 4 is preferred to smaller firms on CV’s by recruitment consultants. Consultants and non finance qualification savvy firms use “ACA” or “big 4” as short hand for streaming applications.

When I’m talking about 50 year old applicants being streamed out - I’m talking about entry level/recently qualified posts. You are not allowed to discriminate overtly on race/age/sex - so using things like “must have degree 2:1” etc ensures you are getting a certain type of applicant - they’re even using “must have graduated in past 5 years” now.

I lived with a hays recruitment that is the way it goes.

Once you are qualified and have 10 years of running a multinational - of course you are going to be employed abroad on merit, but with no experience - the qualification you have is looked at more - so being able to join foreign bodies that prove you know their tax and law systems is rather useful when going for jobs abroad, don’t you think?

Anyone who recommends one of the others over ACA is obviously thinking about their own career/life - just be objective - if you had to start from scratch - in the current climate - which one would you do now if offered all at a big 4? Have you looked at the exam structures recently - which now make ACA the most flexible for spreading out exams to compete with ACCA or CIMA?

Apart from deluded ACA’s or those who did their eexams with quills on parchmnet that assume their exams are harder - the snobbery is actually inverse - it comes from ACCA’s and CIMA’s harping on about how its all the same and ACCA is growing or audit is for peopel with no personality and CIMA is more people-based - and these people not being objective when people ask for legitimate advice on what is the best choice at this present time for their career prospects.

Obviously ACCA at a big 4 is going to be better on the CV than ACA at a sole practitioners. But if there is a choice and you are in UK- always go with ACA to keep all options open.

So for a prospective accountant in terms of career prospects - including emigrating or switching to an audit role:


Coke>Pepsi>Virgin cola>Asda cola


Here we go again folks…