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Do Accountants Need ACCA Credentials?

January 14, 2020

Do Accountants Need ACCA Credentials?

The number of credentials that accountants can earn is quite astounding and often, those looking to earn one aren’t really sure which credential or designation is right for their future. For those in the accounting field, or thinking about entering it, it’s important to talk to a number of practicing accountants to learn which credentials they earned and why as well as how they feel about the decisions they made. You’ll also want to connect with each organization that offers credentials, membership or designations to learn what they offer.

Find out all you can about the various designations and what is required to earn them in order to determine the options and help you make your decision.

One of the options available is becoming a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants – ACCA. This is a global designation body and the designation is recognized by a number of regulatory authorities. It proves an accountant’s good standing in their industry and their advanced ability, plus the credential is acknowledged worldwide.

How to Earn the ACCA Designation

There are different ways to earn the ACCA designation according to the organization’s website. You’ll need to determine what relevant education and experience you have to see what courses and/or exams are required and establish your entry point into the program. The organization recommends studying and working simultaneously (where possible) in order to work through the process more quickly. Those who do can become an ACCA chartered accountant in as little as three to four years.

Qualifications are laid out here and explain that with them, students will complete a maximum of 13 exams (depending upon their prior experience and qualification), complete an ethics and professional skills module and prove three years of relevant, practical experience.

So, in theory, a student with the right base qualifications can achieve ACCA membership in a minimum of three years, given the length of the work experience requirement. Students without the initial qualifications can still begin their accountancy journey with ACCA at the Foundations in Accountancy level, then proceed to ACCA Qualification. It is important to connect with ACCA before starting on the education path because a student must fully understand the academic skills expected at the various levels they can enter the program. Some ACCA education levels are equivalent to basic levels of education whereas others would need academic skills equivalent to a first-year undergraduate program. A lack of academic skills can cause a student to put in more time and money than necessary going through the programs.

Additionally, those who are members in good standing with another accountancy organization (in Canada, the Chartered Professional Accounts are the body recognized by the ACCA) may be able to apply directly for ACCA membership. CGAs around the world are able to apply to become ACCA members to increase their global mobility as well as enhance their professional recognition. For these individuals, the Overview of UK Tax and Law course (offered by ACCA) must be completed unless the member is exempt.

ACCA Exams and ACCA Exam Centres

Exams are conducted at one of the 400 ACCA exam centres located around the world. When you book an exam, you will be asked which ACCA exam centre you prefer to take the test. For those in the Lower Mainland, there is an ACCA test centre in Vancouver.

Most of the exam centres offer the four exam sittings in March, June, September and December. You’ll want to check with the ACCA test centre in Vancouver when you are ready to book your exam to ensure times will work for your schedule.

As previously mentioned, there is a maximum of 13 exams to complete the ACCA Qualification and qualify as an ACCA member. These include:

The Applied Knowledge module:

  • Accountant in Business (AB)
  • Management Accounting (MA)
  • Financial Accounting (FA)

The Applied Skills module:

  • Corporate and Business Law (LW)
  • Performance Management (PM)
  • Taxation (TX)
  • Financial Reporting (FR)
  • Audit and Assurance (AA)
  • Financial Management (FM)

Strategic Professional (Essentials):

  • Strategic Business Leader
  • Strategic Business Reporting

Strategic Professional (Options):

  • Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
  • Advanced Performance Management (APM)
  • Advanced Taxation (ATX)
  • Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

And, the Practical Experience Requirement (PER) and the Ethics and Professional Skills modules must also be completed.

Learn more about how to book an ACCA exam here.

Exam Formats and Expectations

ACCA allows for three different types of exam formats:

1) on-demand (there is an on-demand ACCA test centre in Vancouver) which allows you to take the exam at any time of year – contact the ACCA exam centre and arrange a time and date;

2) session exams take place during the sessions in March, June, September and December and are booked online through ACCA’s online system;

3) paper-based exams, which are gradually being phased out.

Not all ACCA exam centres offer exams in all formats, but by following through the booking information on the ACCA site, you will be able to determine what is available to meet your preferences.

On-demand exam results are provided to you as soon as you’ve completed the exam and will be uploaded to your ACCA account within 72 hours. Other exam results vary in timing and will be made available in your ACCA account once they have been calculated and posted. This information is provided in an Examination Results and Status Report form.

Students who earn 85% or more on certain exams will earn a certificate of achievement while those who achieve the highest mark worldwide for individual Applied Skills and Strategic Professional exams will earn a cash prize. The awards are only eligible for those taking the exam(s) for the first time.

Prepare for ACCA Exams

There are a number of resources available at the ACCA site to assist you with your exams. These resources are offered in modules based on your level of entry into the ACCA program.

The process of becoming an ACCA member is a big commitment. However, for those who love the art and science of accountancy, the designation will be worth it.

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