Founded in 1904, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the global professional accounting body offering the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification (ACCA or FCCA). As of June 2014, ACCA was one of the largest and fastest-growing global accountancy bodies with 170,000 members and 436,000 students in 180 countries. ACCA's headquarters are in London with principal administrative office in Glasgow. ACCA works through a network of 91 offices and centres and more than 8,500 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide employee development.
The term 'Chartered' in ACCA qualification refers to the Royal Charter granted in 1974 by Queen Elizabeth II in the United Kingdom.
Chartered Certified Accountant is a legally protected term. Individuals who describe themselves as Chartered Certified Accountants must be members of ACCA and, if they carry out public practice engagements, must comply with additional regulations such as holding a practising certificate, carrying liability insurance and submitting to inspections.
The Association of Authorised Public Accountants (AAPA), one of the British professional bodies for public accountants, has been a subsidiary of ACCA since 1996.
ACCA claims to work in the public interest, assuring that its members are appropriately regulated. It promotes principles-based regulation. ACCA actively seeks to enhance the value of accounting in society through international research. It takes progressive stances on global issues to ensure accountancy as a profession continues to grow in reputation and influence.
The ACCA offers the following certifications:
Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA)
Chartered Certified Accountant is the professional body's main qualification. Following completion of up to 14 professional examinations, three years of supervised, relevant accountancy experience and a professional ethics module, it enables an individual to become a Chartered Certified Accountant. The ACCA professional examinations are offered worldwide twice yearly, in June and December as paper-based exams. Computer-based exams are also offered for the first three exams (F1, F2 and F3) which are available to take at ACCA licensed exam centres throughout the year. A Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Applied Accounting (after completing the Fundamentals level of the exams, the professional ethics module and submitting a Research and Analysis project), is offered in association with Oxford Brookes University.
The syllabus comprises 14 examinations, although some exemptions are available. The qualification is structured in two parts. The Fundamentals level consists of 9 examinations: F1 Accountant in Business, F2 Management Accounting, F3 Financial Accounting, F4 Corporate and Business Law, F5 Performance Management, F6 Taxation, F7 Financial Reporting, F8 Audit and Assurance, and F9 Financial Management.
The Professional level involves 5 examinations. Within the Professional level three papers are compulsory: P1 Governance, Risk and Ethics; P2 Corporate Reporting; and P3 Business Analysis. Two of the following four options papers must also be completed: P4 Advanced Financial Management, P5 Advanced Performance Management, P6 Advanced Taxation and P7 Advanced Audit and Assurance.
The ACCA full Professional qualification is regarded as the equivalent of a taught UK master's degree by the UK Border Agency and Department of Education.
Subjects include financial accounting, management accounting, financial reporting, taxation, company law, audit and assurance and financial management.
Foundation-level qualifications - Foundations in Accountancy
ACCA offers a range of foundation-level certificates and diplomas - collectively referred to as Foundations in Accountancy - which provide an entry point for anyone new to accounting and finance and who doesn't meet the minimum entry requirements for the ACCA Qualification (which is three GCSEs and 2 A Levels or equivalent, in five separate subjects). Students can start at any level within the Foundation level, but it is recommended that students without any formal academic qualifications start with the Introductory Certificate in Financial and Management Accounting and complete exams FA1, Recording Financial Transactions and MA1, Management Information; then progress to Intermediate Certificate in Financial and Management Accounting and complete exams FA2, Maintaining Financial Records and MA2, Managing Costs and Finance; before progressing to the Diploma in Accounting and Business and completing FAB, Accountant in Business, FMA, Management Accounting and FFA Financial Accounting. Students can use the Foundation-level awards as an entry route onto the ACCA Qualification. Students who complete the Diploma in Accounting and Business will be given exemption from the first three exams of the ACCA Qualification (F1, F2 and F3) and can start their studies on the ACCA Qualification with Paper F4, Corporate and Business Law.
To achieve a certificate for the exams completed students must also complete a foundation ethics module called Foundations in Professionalism, but this only has to be completed once, even if a student wishes to achieve both certificates and the diploma.
The Foundation-level exams are available as paper-based exams held in June and December or as on-demand computer-based exams throughout the year at ACCA Licensed exam centres.
The ACCA offers other qualifications:
• MBA (for ACCA full members), offered in association with Oxford Brookes University
• B.Sc.(Hons) in Applied Accounting, offered in association with Oxford Brookes University
• MSc in Financial Management, offered in association with Heriot-Watt University
• Diploma in Financial Management (DipFM). This certification was previously known as the Certified Diploma in Accounting and Finance (CDipAF), a financial qualification designed for managers outside of finance. This qualification was replaced with Foundations in Accountancy awards at the end of 2011
• Diploma in International Financial Reporting (DipIFR)
• Certificate in International Auditing (CertIA)
• Certificate in International Financial Reporting (CertIFR)
Candidates register as student members to undertake the Professional Scheme qualification.
Upon successful completion of the examinations, student members transfer to Affiliate status.
"For ACCA affiliates to gain admission to full membership, they must demonstrate, on the application form, that they have obtained a minimum of three years of acceptable, supervised, practical experience in an accountancy role (or roles) and have reached the required standard of competence".
From 2008, Fellowship, or senior membership of ACCA, is awarded automatically based on 5 years' continuous membership, subject to compliance with Continuing Professional Development requirements.
Fellow members of ACCA use the designatory letters FCCA in place of ACCA.
Continuing Professional Development
Before 2005, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) was mandatory only for holders of practising certificates and insolvency licences. From 2005 to 2007, ACCA phased in mandatory CPD requirements for all members.
Legal & mutual recognition
United Kingdom and Ireland
• The ACCA or Chartered Certified Accountant qualification is fully recognised in both the United Kingdom and Ireland.
• Under its Royal Charter, ACCA works in the public interest.
• ACCA is a Designated Professional Body under the Financial Services and Markets Act, business activities.
• ACCA is a Recognised Professional Body under the Insolvency Act to issue permits to individual Chartered Certified Accountants to conduct insolvency appointments.
• ACCA is a Recognised Qualifying Body and Recognised Supervisory Body in relation to company auditing under the Companies Act of 1989.
• ACCA is a member of the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB). Members of these bodies are deemed to hold equivalent-level qualifications and advertisements for jobs often state that an organisation is looking for a CCAB-qualified individual.
• Full members of Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies organisations including ACCA could apply for ICAEW membership subject to certain criteria, but in 2013 this was made redundant.
• Only ACCA, ICAEW, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and Association of International Accountants are able to authorise members to conduct audit, insolvency and investment business work in both the United Kingdom and Ireland.
• Outside these countries, legal recognition by government authorities and mutual recognition by equivalent overseas institutes, varies. Where full legal or mutual recognition is not available, ACCA members can sometimes obtain advanced standing in terms of sitting local accountancy examinations. ACCA's strong global reputation may obviate the need to acquire a local designation.
• Similarly, many universities and educational providers will recognise ACCA as equivalent to at least a Bachelor degree in accountancy, for the purpose of obtaining credit towards a local Master's degree or an advanced study program.
The Irish Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) assigned ACCA Qualification to Level 9 of the Irish National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in 2008. Level 9 holds Irish postgraduate qualifications, such as postgraduate diplomas and master's degrees.
In 2011, the Professional Oversight Board published information for the first time about its concerns over self-regulation by particular institutes. Press reports highlighted comments about ACCA, which had implemented recommendations to improve its examination syllabus, but needed to pay greater attention to monitoring long-time members.In 2011, 2012 and 2013 the ACCA professional body had the highest percentage of A&B (best) outcomes from the Financial Reporting Council's Recognised Supervisory Body (RSB) visits to a sample of 'Registered UK Audit Firms'. Though it must be noted that ACCA firms tend to audit smaller and less complex clients.
At the end of 2013 there were over 81,000 members and 92,000 students in the UK & Ireland.
European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) & Switzerland
• The ACCA qualification is legally recognized by all member countries of the European Union under the Mutual Recognition Directive. This recognition extends to the European Economic Area nations and Switzerland. For example a holder of the ACCA or Chartered Certified Accountant qualification could practice as an accountant in all member countries of the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland, describing him/herself as ACCA or Chartered Certified Accountant. Access to local professional qualifications requires a separate test.
At the end of 2013 there were over 14,000 members and 40,000 students in Europe (excluding the UK & Ireland).
• ACCA and TÜRMOB (The Union of Chambers of Certified Public Accountants of Turkey) at Turkey signed a partnership agreement in 2004 which enables TÜRMOB members resident in Turkey to follow the ACCA Professional Scheme qualification and achieve ACCA membership.
• ACCA is recognized by national accounting institutes with joint scheme relationships in:
• Armenia (Association of Accountants and Auditors in Armenia);
• Georgia (Georgian Federation of Professional Accountants and Auditors)
• In June 2012, ACCA and IMA announced a strategic partnership. The two bodies joined forces to empower accountants and financial professionals to drive business performance. In January 2013, The ICMA Board of Regents, representing the certification division of IMA, voted to waive its usual bachelor’s degree requirement for ACCA members wishing to earn IMA’s CMA (Certified Management Accountant) credential. The bachelor’s degree waiver will allow all ACCA members around the world, regardless of background, access to IMA’s CMA credential. This is a benefit to ACCA members who wish to have a US-based credential.
• There is no mutual recognition between ACCA and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)/National Association of State Boards of Accountancy(NASBA).
• At the end of 2013 there were 2,015 members in the US.
ACCA announced a Mutual Recognition Agreement with CGA Canada effective from 1 January 2007; renewed in 2011 for a further 5 years period until December 2017. As of 2006, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, World Education Services and the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor indicated that the evaluation recognized ACCA as having the Canadian equivalence of a Bachelor's Degree (four years) in Accounting. The Canadian branch of ACCA is pursuing recognition for statutory audit purposes in the province of Ontario under the province's Public Accounting Act of 2004
Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) and Certified Management Accountants in Canada (CMA Canada) announced a joint qualification “Chartered Professional Accountant or CPA Designation”, but whether this designation will impinge on ACCA's application for recognition in Ontario is uncertain. Already the newly formed CPA has labelled ACCA as 'advancing a global expansion strategy that targets Canada' and many feel the CICA deem ACCA a threat. On November 29, 2012, the ACCA revealed its ongoing legal battle with the CICA where it inferred that the CICA, altogether, is attempting to stop it from operating in Canada. It is however arguing that the actions of the CICA infringe Canada's Competition Act and so the CA bodies will have to answer these allegations in the trademark proceedings, which are ongoing.
A proposal to consolidate accounting profession in Canada, incorporating CICA, CMA Canada and CGA is to use “Chartered Professional Accountant” or CPA. A 10-year transitional period would require all CPA members to use CPA-"legacy designation" rather than the newer designation. The direction of the merger is however uncertain at this point.
At the end of 2013 there were 2,646 members in Canada.
ACCA has an office in Sydney and holds exams in major cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA), CPA Australia and Institute of Public Accountants recognise ACCA qualification as sufficient to obtain a skill assessment as an Accountant for the purposes of immigration. The Tax Practitioners Board accredited ACCA as a recognised tax agent association and as a recognised BASagent association on 12 May 2010.
Subject to passing exams in Australian tax and law, ACCA members may obtain the equivalent level of membership from the Institute of Public Accountants. On the same basis, ACCA members can obtain direct entry to the CA Program of the ICAA.
However, ACCA has not procured a mutual recognition agreement with any accountancy body in Australia, unlike CIMA and CIPFA which are recognized via MRAs with CPA Australia.
At the end of 2013 there were 3,075 members and almost 1,700 students in Australia.
ACCA has one representative in Auckland and holds its exams there.
New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants has removed some exemptions following the re-negotiation of mutual recognition agreement with various accounting bodies including CIPFA and CPA Australia in December 2010 now ACCA,s have to pass three or four modules to qualify as ca.
At the end of 2013 there were 449 members in New Zealand.
Caribbean, Central & South America
The ACCA is an affiliate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean. The ACCA qualification is legally recognized by the national accounting institutes with joint scheme relationships in:
• Barbados (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados);
• Bahamas (Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants);
• Belize (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Belize);
• Dominica (Recognized by Companies Act 1994 in the Commonwealth of Dominica);
• Guyana (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana);
• Jamaica (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica);
• Trinidad and Tobago (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago);
• Saint Lucia (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Saint Lucia);
The ACCA qualification is legally recognized in the French Guiana (Part of France and hence subject to European Union regulations).
As of the end of 2013 there were 4,621 members and 17,000 students in the Caribbean.
As of the end of 2013 there were 11,845 members and over 82,000 students in Africa.
The ACCA Professional Scheme has been registered at Level 8 (equivalent to master degree level).
ACCA has no agreement with any accountancy body in South Africa, while Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, ICA in Scotland, ICA in Ireland have agreements with South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.
ACCA Zimbabwe is one of the constituent bodies of the Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB). The PAAB is a statutory body established in 1996 to oversee the profession and maintain a register of persons entitled to work or practise as public accountants or public auditors in Zimbabwe. Only ACCA members in good standing andInstitute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe can register as auditors.
• The ACCA qualification currently is legally recognized by the national accounting institutes with the joint scheme relationships in:
• Ghana (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ghana);
• Botswana (Botswana Accountancy Accountants);
• Egypt (The Egyptian Society of Accountants & Auditors);
• Ethiopia (The Ethiopian Professional Association of Accountants and Auditors);
• Lesotho (Lesotho Institute of Accountants);
• Malawi (Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi);
• Mauritius (The National Equivalence Council of Mauritius);
• Sierra Leone (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sierra Leone);
• Swaziland (Swaziland Institute of Accountants);
• Zambia (Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants);
• Tanzania (National Board of Accountants and Auditors).
• Uganda (Management and Accounting Training) ;
ACCA entered China in the late 1980s, and has developed its China base rapidly in recent years. It has entered into agreements with 83 Chinese Universities, many of which are leading in the disciplines of finance and accounting as well as having excellent academic reputations in a wider range of subjects. The most well known institutions include Tsinghua University, Xiamen University, Central University of Finance and Economics, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Sichuan University, Xi'an Jiaotong University and Sun Yat-Sen University.
As of the end of 2013 there were 5,038 members and over 43,000 students in Mainland China.
An Agreement of Recognition Arrangement (ARA) between ACCA and HKICPA (Local statutory accountancy body) was put in place on 22 August 2006, backdated to 1 July 2005. This was less flexible than the previous rule.
The old agreement was terminated on 30 June 2005 forcing ACCA members to accept the so-called "8 unfair terms" e.g., hold a degree recognised by HKICPA, work under HKICPA authorised employers, attend workshops and pass HKICPA's Final Professional Examination (FPE), etc.
This notwithstanding, HKICPA members could join in ACCA without any further requirement.
The ACCA qualification is highly accepted by the Hong Kong employment market. Most HKICPA members qualified through a joint scheme with Hong Kong Society of Accountants (HKSA) which operated for more than 20 years. HKSA later became HKICPA.
As of the end of 2013 there were 18,429 members and over 9,000 students in Hong Kong.
The ACCA currently is legally recognized with the joint scheme relationships by Macau Society of Certified Practising Accountants (Local statutory accountancy body) in Macau.
ACCA and the national accountancy body, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS), operate a Joint Scheme of Examinations. The Joint Scheme is based on ACCA examinations and allows students to qualify in Singapore law and tax. Students who complete the Joint Scheme examinations are eligible to join both bodies. ACCA's student numbers in Singapore for the Joint Scheme top 11,000. A blog assists students. Singapore's government recognizes the ACCA qualification to meet its immigrant skills assessment.
As of the end of 2013 there were 7,469 members and over 21,000 students in Singapore.
According to rules 6(iii) & 9 of accountancy examination published by Taiwan government, ACCA members are entitled to obtain advanced standing in the examinations to become a Certified Public Accountant in Taiwan.
On 13 August 2007 ACCA and the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA) signed an MRA that provided a route for members to join the other body. The ACCA or Chartered Certified Accountant qualification is recognised by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA). Only MIA members qualify as accountants in Malaysia under the Accountants Act, 1967.
ACCA is statutorily recognised in Part II of the First Schedule of the Accountants Act, 1967.
As of the end of 2013 there were 11,030 members and almost 35,000 students in Malaysia.
The ACCA qualification confers the Qualified Company Secretary designation in Pakistan. ACCA and the local statutory accounting body (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan) offer partial recognition of each other.
ACCA in Pakistan saw tremendous growth beginning in 2007, with thousands of students enrolling every year into ACCA programs. Local colleges and universities offer ACCA programs in all major cities.
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan recognises ACCA members qualifications as equal to Master's degree in Commerce (M.Com). Also ICAP awards some exemptions to ACCA affiliates. Recently ICAP has reduced the exemptions to ACCA affiliates/members. Previously, ACCA affiliates or members were given exemptions up to Module D. Now ACCA affiliates/members can get maximum of seven exemptions. ICAPs discriminatory behavior to ACCA students caused a massive decrease in ACCAs market share in Pakistan. Recently ICAP issued a letter to all Pakistan's firms not to give any contracts to foreign qualification such as ACCA and ICAEW. On January 10, 2013, Pakistan’s Apex regulatory body, Competition Commission of Pakistan ruled in favor of ACCA and ICAEW students imposing a Rs 25 million penalty on the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan for the violation, and restrained ICAP from issuing similar directives to its members in the future. As per the order, the relevant course of action for affected would be to pursue compensation from the courts of competent jurisdictions. Later, on the application of ICAP, the Lahore High Court removed the penalty imposed by CCP stating ICAP is a statutory body and is a regulator of the accountancy profession in Pakistan and the CCP had no right to impose such fine on ICAP. On December 6, 2014 ACCA and ICMAP (Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan) signe an MOU to enhance the existing academic recognition arrangements between the two accounting bodies. This MoU shall facilitate students and members of ACCA and ICMA Pakistan to earn dual qualification and membership on a fast track basis.
United Arab Emirates
On 19 March 2014, ACCA signed a strategic partnership agreement with UAE's national accountancy body Accountants and Auditors Association to help the latter develop a new Chartered Accountant qualification nationwide. The exams will be held jointly, and successful graduates will gain both ACCA and UAE's new Chartered Accountants' qualifications.
• The ACCA currently is legally recognized by national accounting institutes with joint scheme relationships in:
• Vietnam (The Ministry of Finance of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam);
• Brunei (Brunei Institute of Certified Public Accountants);
• Cambodia (The Ministry of Economy and Finance Kampuchea Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Auditors);
• Laos (The Ministry of Finance of the Lao People's Democratic Republic).
• Bangladesh (The Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh)
• Nepal Tribhuwan University recognises ACCA as equivalent to BBS (bachelor degree) if pursued after completing intermediate level.
Through partnerships with professional institutions, ACCA offers students and members access to other related professionals.
• ACCA is one of two professional bodies (Another is the charterholders of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)) whose members are recognized by UK's Securities & Investment Institute (SII) as equivalent to full SII membership (MSI). MSI are recognized by national investment professional bodies such as Financial Services Institute of Australasia (FINSIA)) and Hong Kong Securities Institute (HKSI).
• ACCA and FINSIA have a separate global partnership. Under the agreement, students and members of ACCA may obtain advanced standing in the Institute examinations.
• ACCA and the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) have a global partnership. Under the agreement, the two organisations cooperate, collaborate and share resources.
• ACCA and the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) have a global partnership to enable ACCA’s members to take CIOT’s Advanced Diploma in International Taxation (ADIT).
• ACCA members may access an accelerated route to Associate membership of the UK Association of Corporate Treasurers(ACT).
• ACCA and Investors in People (IIP) agreed to enable IIP-recognised organisations in the UK and Ireland to apply directly for the award of ACCA Approved Employer (professional developments stream.) ACCA members working in IIP-recognised organisations benefit from the recognition of their work-related learning and take advantage of simplified CPD reporting.
• Institute of Directors (IoD) and ACCA are working on initiatives to promote good governance and high standards in learning and development. From 2007, ACCA members seeking enhanced skills and improved organisational performance can undertake the Chartered Director qualification – a professional qualification for directors.
• Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) in United States agreed that Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) have to pass a final examination to get the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation. This is an IMA policy and mirrors privileges of other IFAC bodies, as well as to others with the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor's degree (any discipline).
• Oxford Brookes University offer a BSc (Honours) in Applied Accounting, and the online supported MBA.
• Tsinghua University in Beijing agreed to recognise the Oxford Brookes University B.Sc.(Hons) Applied Accounting degree and to accept graduates into Tsinghua's master's programs.
• The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at University of London entered a global partnership to enable ACCA members and affiliates to enroll in SOAS's Postgraduate Diploma in Public Financial Management.
• The University of Cambridge ESOL examinations (English for Speakers of Other Languages) agreed to launch the International Certificate in Financial English (Cambridge ICFE), a new financial English exam.
• The Said Business School at the University of Oxford offers the Diploma in Financial Strategy, a Masters-level course that provides the essential elements of an MBA for ACCA accountants.
• Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University agreed to offer ACCA Part 3 students, affiliates and members a fast track entry through free-of-charge credit transfer and exemption when they matriculate for the MSc in Financial Management by distance or face-to-face learning at a global network of centres.
• Exeter University offers ACCA members postgraduate qualifications in leadership (MA degree in leadership).
• Many universities offer accelerated routes for ACCA members to their masters programmes.
In 2012 ACCA bought the rights to the Computer-Based-Examination software from EDI. ACCA has used i-assess since 2001. It was created originally by Dr David Wild.
ACCA is represented on many committees and bodies around the world.
• ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA)
• Confederation of Asia Pacific Accountants (CAPA)
• Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB)
• Eastern, Central and Southern African Federation of Accountants (ECSAFA)
• European Financial Reporting Advisory Group
• Fédération des Experts Comptables Européens (FEE)
• Fédération des Experts Comptables Méditerranéens (FCM)
• Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
• International Federation of Accountants (IFAC)
• Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean (ICAC)
• Inter-American Accounting Association (IAA)
• South Eastern European Partnership on Accountancy Development (SEEPAD)