Whosoever has already trodden or starts thinking about treading the road of practicing accounting or auditing as a profession is bound to be familiar with the terms CA and ACCA. Although both the terms sound simple and definite, the cloud of confusion that surrounds these two words is quite mammoth.
Many young professionals in India face the impediment of choosing between ICAI and ACCA when they embark on their journey of becoming a chartered accountant. This is because of the dire fact that the level of difference between the two is quite less and almost overlapping and that’s what makes taking one of the two choices a big hurdle to cross.
So, to help you grasp the varying shades of both ACCA and CA, we must first understand what ACCA and CA really are
So, what is ACCA?
Well, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a global (mind you global not local or national) professional accounting body offering the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification (CCA).
So, a CCA has expertise in International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)
And, what is CA?
Chartered Accountants (CA) are the members of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).
So, a CA has expertise in Indian accounting standards.
So, one is certified to follow only the International Financial Reporting Standards while the other one is certified to abide only by the Indian Accounting Standards.
So, what should one choose to study, ACCA or CA? And on what grounds should they compare the two and select one?
Well, that’s what this article is written for, we will compare both ACCA and CA on various benchmarks and help you reach a solution.
So, now let’s look how ACCA and CA weigh up on various parameters and what are the differences between CA and ACCA?
1. ACCA vs CA, which is Tough?
ACCA and CA have an almost identical course layout with almost the same number of subjects, but the basic and the main difference between the two is the passing percentage.
As per May 2018 data, the passing percentage in CA is around 9.09% whereas in ACCA this passing percentage is as high as 40%.
As you can see in the image above, ACCA has a much better passing percentage than CA.
It is just because of this humongous difference in the passing percentage that ACCA is considered to be a bit easy as compared to CA.
Also, there is no grouping of subjects in ACCA as there is in CA. So unlike CA if you do not pass a subject in ACCA, you have to rewrite only that particular subject and not every subject in that particular group.
Also, in ACCA you can attempt exams as per your convenience. So you can give 1,2,3 or 4 exams at a time.
If you are an ACCA aspirant, you can also complete your articleship anytime (before, during or after the course).
All these small details and refinements in the ACCA course make it slightly easy to tackle than the CA exams.
2. Can ACCA become CA?
Many professionals in India have this question in their mind.
A chartered accountant who has qualified through the ICAI can get a great global exposure if he opts for ACCA.
ACCA along with CA is a bang on career choice; with two of the most valuable degrees in the world in your pocket, you can reach the pinnacle of success in no time.
Also, an Indian CA gets an exemption of a total of 9 exams out of the prescribed 14 exams, so you only have to write 5 exams to become a CCA if you already are a CA.
Below is the list of exams that Indian Chartered Accountants don’t need to write while pursuing ACCA.
ACCA along with CA will gear you up for a professional life that has no geographical boundaries as you have the right to sign audit books globally as well as in India.
If you want to study both the courses, then it’s better to do CA first as you will be exempted from writing those 9 exams mentioned above while pursuing ACCA.
One more question that dodges people’s mind is Can I do ACCA and CA together?
Doing ACCA and CA at the same time may not be a good idea as it requires extreme dedication and is also a real test of your patience and dedication. And also if you are doing both of them together at the same time, you practically have no time to do anything else.
So, if you are intensely motivated and can handle the bouts of pressure for a very long time, you can dabble in ACCA and CA together.
Many professionals who have been in this field for quite a long time and have also gone through this phase, feel that one should go for CA first and then pursue ACCA, as this way you would already have completed the 3 year articleship beforehand and along with it you will also be exempted from 9 out of the 15 exams which are a part of the ACCA curriculum.
3. Prospect of ACCA in India
A lot of people in India are stuck in the loophole of finding the best pick among CA and CCA.
CA is one of the most recognized and high yielding courses in India but globally it is not that much recognized. And on the other hand, ACCA is globally recognized as it focuses more on global economic situations.
So, naturally, in India a CA will have a larger share of jobs as only a CA has the right to sign the audit books as an auditor in India.
But the ACCAs are slowly catching up with the CAs in India, thanks to the never-ending globalization.
These days most of the multinational corporations, international banks and big companies cater to clients that are settled abroad, so what they require is a CCA and not a CA to cater to their needs.
Although ACCAs don’t have the right to sign the accounting books in India, they can still be a member of the panel of the chartered accountants that a company hires.
Also, ACCAs can also start their own firms to help out foreign nationals who want to set up businesses in India.
So, having an ACCA degree under your belt gives you a more broader choice or range of work to choose from as you can indulge in accounting and finance related work all throughout the globe.
Whereas if you are a CA, you are geographically limited as most part of your job will be based around the Indian Accounting Standards.
4. Fee Structure and Time Required for the Course
Both ACCA and CA have a different fee structure. As ACCA is a course offered by the UK, it comes out to be a bit expensive as compared to CA which in India is offered by ICAI.
ACCA course costs around 2 lakh rupees to complete whereas pursuing a CA course costs around 1 lakh. And if you take external help or classes to complete these courses, there is another addition of around 1-1.5 lakhs to the total costs.
So, both ACCA and CA are a blow to the pocket, they don’t come easy, but this huge fee becomes just a bunch of pennies when compared to the benefits these courses garner afterwards.
Also, what many people want to know about is the minimum time required to complete these courses.
Obviously it is better to strive with each course patiently and not to rush with it. But sometimes due to the situations around us, we aren’t able to learn and understand things according to the pace we desire and are forced to rush. So that is why the knowledge regarding the minimum time to complete these courses becomes very important.
Let’s look how much time do these courses actually require.
• Minimum Time to Complete ACCA
The minimum time to complete ACCA is 3 years but in these three years, you have to strike a balance between both writing exams as well as your articleship.
That is why it is advised to devote your first year in just writing exams and understanding how things work and then from the second year, start your articleship.
So, the ideal time to complete ACCA is 4-5 years.
• Minimum Time to Complete CA
If you pass all the 3 levels of the CA course in the very first attempt, it roughly takes around 4.5-5 years to get your name on that CA degree.
The time required is more in CA as you are only allowed to pursue your articleship after clearing the IPCC which is the second level whereas in ACCA you can pursue your articleship whenever you want.
5. What Should One Pursue in India?
India, as we know, has its own accounting standards known as the Indian Accounting Standards and ACCA, as mentioned earlier, offers expertise in the IFRS.
So, in India generally, companies look for a CA instead of an ACCA just because CA is a more Indian Accounting Laws intended course whereas ACCA is a global course.
But if you want to look for opportunities overseas along with India, then ACCA may help cover the extra mile as it is more recognised globally as compared to CA.
According to payscale.com, the minimum/average salary of ACCA in India is 5.9 lakhs whereas the minimum/average salary of a CA in India is 7.4 lakhs.
But in contrast, in countries like UK and USA, the average pay scale of a CCA is pretty high.
So, if you want to establish a career in India then CA may be a better pick than ACCA but if you want a job in USA, UK, UAE or other countries then an ACCA degree might get you that.
So, now as you have concrete knowledge of what ACCA and CA are and what are the small intricate differences between the two, you can now fuel up your decision-making engine and choose one out of the two or both, quickly and correctly.
What you also have to keep in mind is that blindly following what other people are doing won’t do you any good, instead analysing what you desire and what you are good at is of paramount importance.
So, maybe all of your friends are pursuing CA, but this doesn’t mean you also have to go with the flow. Break it, if you feel like it!
And stick to your decision no matter how hard the journey grows out to be, it is always the darkest night that produces the brightest star.