ACA vs ACCA

Can someone please explain to me the fundamental differences between the two as I am at a loss.

I need to decide which to go for. 

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  • Hi Tamsanqa

    There are many differences between ACCA and ACA. Ultimately, one of the main things you need to consider is what you want to do in your future career. Research shows that ACAs can usually command higher salaries and as Mervin stated above - there are far more ACAs in senior positions in UK FTSE companies and major organisations than other qualifications. You may also want to look at some of the senior job vacancies that are advertised in publications such as the Financial Times (or similar) as some of the key vacancies ask specifically for ACA qualified.

    Here are just some of the other differences between ACA and ACCA:

    Optional vs compulsory: With ACA there are no optional exam papers (which is the case with ACCA). Every ACA exam module is compulsory (unless you qualify for exemption on a particular module). Students cannot opt out of areas in which they feel less confident. Employers love this as it means they get individuals who have consistent levels of academic and professional achievement across multiple areas. It's good for you as you get a broad, in-depth level of expertise in many disciplines, so you can add value to any number of areas of that business.

    Time taken to qualify: 80% of ACA students qualify in three years or less, while for ACCA this figure drops to 59%. For you, this could mean you gain an internationally recognised professional qualification more quickly which may then impact on your salary and job prospects.

    Four compulsory elements: The ACA is more than just exams. It requires ongoing study and development of ethics training, professional skills development and technical work experience. While the ACCA requires some development in these areas too, there is less regulation/monitoring around the way in which some of this exeperience can be gained. This is not the case with ACA where you would need to gain these skills with an employer that is authorised by ICAEW to train ACA students. This benefits you as it helps ensures that all students receive high levels of support from their organisations.

    Training agreement: This is a two-way formal agreement between employer and students relating to your ACA studies. Employers outline the support they will offer you, while you agree to study hard, pass your exams and complete all te components of the qualification. ACCA does not require anything similar to this. Research shows that students taking qualifications with accountancy bodies that require some form of formal agreement have higher pass marks.  

    Exam sittings: ACA offers more exam sittings. This is better for you and your employer as it means exams schedules can be tailored to suit your work commitments and the business needs of your organisation.

    Ethics training: Given recent events in the world economy, it is more crucial than ever that future business leaders act with integrity and good judgement. The ACA therefore requires ongoing ethics learning throughout training. This is not the case with ACCA.

    Quality learning materials: ACA produces its own learning materials. These are reviewed yearly and approved by the examiners. ACCA has no such control processes in place for their materials, so multiple versions of varying quality may exist.

    See ACA structure and content

    See ACCA structure and content

    I will answer your query shortly about study comparisons between ACCA and ACA as I need to get this information from one of my colleagues. Suzanne 

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