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ACA, CIMA or ACCA? My thoughts on how they differ and what they offer

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about 2 years ago

by IN2 Consult

ACA, CIMA or ACCA? My thoughts on how they differ and what they offer

If you want to be a fully Qualified Accountant which direction do you go?

As a Finance Recruiter I am often asked, which direction is best for me? How will choosing the qualification I decide to go for affect my career? Are they all the same? Well I thought I would write a little article that I hope helps you make a more informed decision or at least gives you another angle to think about.

So whats the difference?

ACA is typically for a number of the larger practices and is a very technical qualification. Some say this is the hardest qualification out of CIMA, ACA, and ACCA. This is often one of the most sort after qualifications that clients are after if you are ACA qualified and looking for a job then generally there shouldn't be a problem. 

A lot of ACA Qualified candidates from my experience go work for the Big 4 , or move into Financial Controller internal audit positions as the qualification generally suits this way of working. If you look at the FTSE 100 listed businesses about 83% of the companies have ACA qualified professionals on their boards. There is a five year time limit to completing the training for this which might be a consideration if you believe it might take longer to complete.

ACCA is again more focused on financial accounting but is not limited to this. This is often offered by companies looking for candidates who want to be able to understand reporting, IFRS, US and UK GAAP depending not he company you join.

This qualification does require 2 A levels and Three GCSE's including English and maths. ACCA and ACA have the most similarities compared to CIMA and a big difference between the two is. ACA focuses less on the individuals ability to learn and more on how you understand the information given to you and how you would communicate it.

CIMA is generally much more involved in analysis and the commercial side of finance. CIMA is focused on becoming a Management Accounting or financial planning positions and teaches you how finance fits into commercial practices. If this is your main interest then this might be the best course for you. I am not saying people from an ACA or ACCA don't fit into a more commercially business focused position but would definitely say that CIMA is more focused on this closely followed by ACCA and then ACA. 

These are just my honest thoughts from working with qualified finance professionals on a day to day basis and I hope you find it interesting. 

If you want to find out any more information or have a question then please get in touch! ​

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