As the global economy develops and businesses grow, the need for qualified finance professionals to manage these businesses increase. These professionals work in wide ambit of finance related fields ranging from accounts to financial management to taxation and audit. There is also a need for regulating bodies and certifications to regulate the influx and working of these professionals.
In this article we will look at two major certifications – CA and ACCA and understand what they mean and how they differ.
Definitions and meanings
Chartered accountant (CA):
A chartered accountant (CA) is a professional certified with chartered accountancy certification awarded by the local accounting board. The CA certification is awarded and regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in India (ICAI), Institute of chartered accountants in Pakistan (ICAP) and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). The certification is awarded on completion of several examinations and mandatory practical training.
A chartered accountant has the certification as well as expertise to work in a wide range of areas in the fields of accountancy, finance, taxation and auditing.
CA certification is offered by several countries including India, Pakistan, UK, and Australia. The validity of the CA certification is generally limited to the country in which the certificate is obtained.
Apart from working in finance related fields, the CA certification also qualifies the professional to perform statutory audits of enterprises. In fact, the CA certification is mandatory to perform statutory audits.
Every country has a different minimum educational requirement to enrol in the CA program. For example, in India, 10+2 education is required.
ACCA is a global professional accounting certification awarded by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in London.
A professional with an ACCA certification is an expert in finance related fields especially in global accounting standards such as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
An accountant with a minimum of 3 years of work experience and a degree in accounts is eligible to appear for ACCA exams to get certified.
The ACCA certification is recognized globally in over 170 countries.
Differences between CA and ACCA:
The key differences between CA and ACCA have been detailed below:
CA is a professional certified with chartered accountancy certification awarded by the local accounting board.
ACCA is a global professional accounting certification awarded by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in London
2. Certifying authority
CAs are certified by local accounting boards such as Institute of Chartered Accountants in India and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
ACCA certification is provided by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in London.
CA is national level certification and its applicability and recognition is generally limited to the certifying country
ACCA is a global certification and is recognized in over 170 countries.
4. Areas of expertise
CAs are considered as specialists in the local Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP).
ACCA certified professionals are experts in International accounting standards such as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
5. Stage of entry
An individual can enroll for the CA program after completing his 10+2 education. There is no requirement for any other degree.
An individual can enroll to avail ACCA certification only if he has a graduation or equivalent degree in accounting.
Work experience requirement for enrolling:
- An individual can enroll for the CA program without any work experience.
- An individual can enroll to avail ACCA certification only if he has a minimum work experience of 3 years.
6. Stages of qualification
An individual is required to clear all levels of exams in the CA program and complete a mandatory training program as well to obtain the CA certification. Existence of any other accounting degree is not recognized and does not result in any exemptions from clearing all exams of the CA program.
For an ACCA certification, the number of exams to be cleared depends on the existing qualifications of the applicant. For example a CA degree is recognized by the ACCA, so a CA automatically is eligible for ACCA certification on clearance of fewer exams as compared to a normal accountant.
7. Preferred by
Obtaining a CA degree is preferred by individuals who wish to pursue a career in accounting or auditing or such related fields.
An ACCA certification is generally preferred by already practicing accountants who wish to get this certification to increase their global credibility.
CA versus ACCA – tabular comparison
A tabular comparison of CA and ACCA is given below:
|A professional certified with chartered accountancy certification awarded by the local accounting board||A global professional accounting certification awarded by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in London|
|Several – e.g., Institute of Chartered Accountants in India and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales||Single – Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in London|
|Areas of work|
|Local GAAP||International accounting standards and IFRS|
|Stage of entry|
|Different countries have different entry level educational requirements||After obtaining specified degree in accounting|
|Work experience required for enrolling|
|No||Yes, minimum 3 years|
|Stages of qualification|
|Clearance of all levels of exams. ACCA or any other accounting degree not recognized||Required number of exams to be cleared depends on prior qualification. CA degree recognized|
|Stages of qualification|
|Individuals wanting to be experts in fields of accounting, auditing, finance and tax||Accountants looking for global credibility|
Both CA and ACCA qualifications are highly regarded in the professional world as experts in the finance field. While CAs are generally given more preference as well as audit signing authority in their local area, ACCAs are more globally recognized. The preference for one qualification over the other would depend on the individuals working preference i.e., whether he/she is looking to work in their country or looking to explore work areas across the world.