What's the difference between ACA and ACCA?



Or to go off at a real tangent, take the Lord Sugar career path.


Original post:

Hi all.

Can anyone elaborate the difference between ACA and ACCA, please? At KPMG there are these two routes in audit, and the entry requirement for ACA is stricter than for ACCA. I am really curious and would like to know which qualification is better in terms of long term career developments.

Many thanks,


I actually started ACCA based on advice in chat rooms and threads like this - then switched to ACA halfway through - got up to F9 on ACCA.

Always makes me laugh when ACA’s describing their qualification as harder or more rigorous (thats the marketing at work - just like ACCA is more international or flexible -lol) - ACA I’d say they were slightly easier than ACCA if anything…

The straightforward and objective answer to the question:

  1. Once you are qualified for 3-5 years it doesn’t matter
  2. ACA is always preferred for career prospects if you are starting off
  3. CIPFA/CIMA is only good if you are 100% sure you don’t want to audit or want to work in public sector.
  4. ACA is the UK member of GAA so the only UK qual that gets you recipricol membership of overseas bodies.

So given the choice do the ACA, why anyone would advise a prospective student otherwise is down to them having a chip on the shoulder, quite sad but understandable.

They are all similarly intellectually demanding (its the same subject and standards regualted by government bodies) and all are as flexible these days to be competitive.

Obviously the bodies don’t actually want to merge as it means the gravy train of funding and “posts” in the separate bodies would be over + all the lovely fees they charge and consultancy work!

They are only seen to want to work collectively for public benefit - as government tries to make chartered accountancy available for all and things simpler for the public to understand. E.g. ATT is a cohesive strategy to protect self-interest but appease government pressur on equal opportunities for all. CCAB is a cartel…

  • In many countries you cannot become a chartered accountant unless you have a 3 year accounting degree - immediately putting most of their population out of being able to get access to the profession so we are lucky in UK

But - lets be honest - we all know the layman knows “chartered accountant” not “certified chartered accountant” and the recruitment consultant perspective is ACA or “big 4” has better candidates (wrong assumption but one they make to screen applicants).

If all qualifieds could start again and train quess which they’d pick to save hassle and pointelss debate? ACA :wink:

And relax.


Some valid points Dave, some I disagree with. I’ve made my opinions quite clear earlier in the forum so I won’t nitpick on which ones I have issue with.

I’ll just re-emphasise the one you said which carries the most overall weight - 3-5 years post qualification - it doesn’t matter that much. I’ve found that and really that’s the main point!


Hi there, new to the forum and was curious to find out if anyone had any idea where a masters’ degree in accounting stands in terms of acceptance onto a CA (ICAS) training vacancy. I currently do not have a high level of UCAS points (180,i believe) as i had to leave school early due to illness, but i did complete a higher national diploma in accounting, subsequently transferring to an ICAS accredited university. Currently i can find no mention as to how much weight a masters degree or HND carries in terms of gaining access to CA training and whether if i apply my application will go directly into the bin because of obvious lack of minimum requirements. Does anyone know if employers value the master degree and to what extent is a HND suitable as a substitute for UCAS points? Any replies would be very much appreciated.


Hi, I’m hearing that the ACCA is more internationally renowned - is this including Europe too, or are they more likely to consider the ACA given their proximity?


Hey, read some comments and people have said that you dont need any work experience for the ACCA…however just looked it up and found this:

“…and three-years’ relevant practical experience.”

so do you or do you not need pracitcal experience? I’m going to do ACA but have an interview next week and don’t want to look like an idiot if I get quizzed on the alternatives!
Thanks :slight_smile:


Check out the ACCA website. I’m ACA but imagine like our Institute you’ll be expected to have worked in accountancy as you study for your exams.


I’ve read the thread with great interest (although the same points seems to be debated). I’ve been thrust into the role of finance administrator, and I’ve been bitten by the bug.

Forensic accounting interests me, and I haven’t been able to work out which qualification (ACA or ACCA) would be most beneficial. The thing that concerns me the most is the ‘relevant work experience’. Is it mandatory to have that experience whilst you are doing either course?

Thanks in advance!


The people debating the factual points I’ve harped on about on this thread qualified years ago - things have changed in delivery and structure since they studied using quills and parchment…:wink:

Both qualifications require 3 years experience + numerous exams to qualify - exams can be done either before, during or after experience is signed off - only difference with ACA being the last ACA exam require you to have done or be doing year 3.

Both can have the experience signed off by ANY CCAB-qualified accountant - (ACA require if the person is not a recognized trainer - they phone ICAEW and speak to one of their members to “oversee” them)

I dare say being ACA/ACCA qualified will have as much relevance as your hair colour in an actual interview or to the job you do - they’d both be equally as 'beneficial".

But do be warned even if the marketplace perception of ACA being better diminishes - lots of recruiters screen out as “ACA only” to stop a deluge of un-anglocised foreign applications flooding in to wade through as so many people take the ACCA abroad then applying to jobs here.

And the reality is with 4 exam sittings a year and 6 multiple choice sit-any-time papers - the ACA is much, much easier to fit around work than the ACCA. Something I’m always reminded by my fed-up ACCA friend who is re-sitting F7 for the third time in December - forgetting the whole subject everytime he has to wait another 6 months to try again!


ACA: The reality is that in the advanced stage (2 papers) and the case study, there are TWO sittings per annum. End ofJuly and beginning of November. So if you fail in November you don’t re-take til the end of July. That’s nearly 9 months to forget the subject. If you fail in July (you get exam results 5 weeks after sitting exam) you hear mid August and re-take 10 weeks later.
I’m intrigued with your theory on filtering out foreign applicants. Is Clegg behind this?!


True - last 3 ACA are 2 sittings a year - all other 4 sittings or multiple choice, still miles better than ACCA for flexibility: 2 sittings a year from F4 - F9 + 4 P papers, F1 - F3 multiple choice.

CIMA I here are bringing in a one month after exam re-sit sitting.

Its not my “theory” on filtering applications - I lived with finance recruiters - apparently its the way it goes to whittle down suitable applicants - ACA is always preferred, big 4 is always preferred - they can get more money for those as the perception is they are higher calibre from clients.

Also foreigners - yep unfortunately they’d get 500+ applicants for some posts - and the initial screen was done using ACA or the post would be revised to say ACA only as its UK grads with those - and they’d get too many foreign ACCA applications.

thats what they thought as recruiters…

My “theory” is ACA’s are better in bed.


Too much information. I’m guessing your ACCA friend was not part of any trial to formulate your “theory”…
I like those recruiters. Sound judges.
Wait for some angry retorts from ACCAS.
Are you qualified now?


I’m part qualified, meant to be studying hence wasting time posting on forums whilst staring at Kaplan engage.

Recruiters are worse than estate agents - only after pushing the %

I’m honeslty trying to help newbies who are lookin g for answers to which qual to do - as I did when I started off doing ACCA:

I feel everyone regardless of their qualification should advise prospective students (which people posting questions on here are) to do ACA - if there is a choice. Its simply the best choice for NEW students at the moment all things considered (who have no idea where their careers will take them -e.g. at some point having to sign off an audit) - that can’t be argued - its fact.

A good example are the 2000 people who have lost their jobs from the audit commision being axed - CIPFA’s who can’t join ACA under pathways to membership ( 5 years post-qual experience) cannot sign off on private listed audits and therefore are disadvantaged to join the private firms who will now be in charge of that work.

Anyone who’s qualified and working - it doesn’t matter forget about hte idiot recruiters – there is no difference especially after 5 years when anyone can claim membership to ACA under pathways to membership - should they prefer to name themselves using the protected term “chartered accountant” or use the ACA membership of GAA to work abroad and gain reciprocal membership of foreign bodies.


Thanks a lot dave2020. I am biased as I’m going to an assessment day for a ACA position as a graduate in a mid tier firm but its good to hear your enthusiastic endorsement and the fact that you think its the best qualificationto go for at this moment in time, as all these debates do for me personally is muddy the waters.


Good luck with the assessment day!

Had you been offered the ACCA - it wouldn’t matter as its the firm you work for and experience that will count for your career, 5 years post-qual they are interchangeable - the qualification is just a means to that end. But given the choice…

Too true - the debates and comments on threads simply muddy the waters and don’t give answers, hopefully points raised on here will help prospective students investigate further to draw conclusions.

You need to look through the marketing and make an objective assessment at the point in time you do the qualification - don’t believe the marketing or listen to anyone else - e.g. what I’ve posted will be out of date next year.

However be aware:

-The ACCA intentionally misleads people regards it having international recognition that makes recognised all over the world and the best one to have for overseas employment. ( ACA is actually the international recruitment passport - being the UK member of GAA)

-ACA intentionally mislead people as to it being somehow the most difficult and intellectually better than the rest, so “worth more”.

Both of those statements are complete lies and marketing spin, but widely believed to be true, even more so outside accountancy circles (recruiters and employers).

This shall be my last post I promise!!



Thanks a lot again dave2020 cant tell how it went couldnt read the partner at all so will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. Did research and was aware of the GAA and the firm I went to said to they endorse ACA because of the exam structure being more spaced out so that junoirs (ie graduates who have just joined) can serve clients almost throughout the year rather than with other boards where they will have a block of examinations which means that seniors will have to carry out the mundane aspects of a client’s audits which juniors normally do and is considered a waste of their time.


Mr Pagreen,or anyother Brother

Could you please help me with my questions,i thank you in advance for that

As we all know CFA and ACA are 2 different qualifications, why dont the Employers realise it?? recent i have seen some jobs which say the candidate should either be ACA or CFA, MAY I know if these 2 qualifications can work for one another?



Zadran - they do realize they are different qualifications, they are simply narrowing down the selection for the calibre of people they want to interview for the particular role:

  1. CFA: asset management experience vetted by CFA + passed those exams.

  2. ACA: (big 4) - Assumed experience of working on FTSE 100 clients.

Most of the calibre of people they are after start their finance careers in the big 4 training programmes, CFA is much less common.

They are looking for a type of person.


At the moment I am doing a master in economics in manchester university.
having finacial difficulties ,I have decided to apply for job in some firms which I am supposed to be supported by them to do a course in ACA.
some quistion:
1)does this story exist in reality? if so, how much is the chance of my employment by this firm(my grades are very well in economics).

2)do you think it is a right decision?

any kind of advice will be appreciated


What is your:

undergraduate degree
UCAS points
work experience
how much is your masters costing
where do you wnt to be in 5 years time
how bad is the financial situation
are you good-looking/charismatic/popular

All important questions.