Join Ben Bullman and Gareth John as they break down their guide to the practical considerations of accountancy study after AAT.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
The ACCA qualification is globally recognised as the largest and fastest growing professional accountancy body. Being ACCA qualified opens up many career opportunities in the world of finance, whether in accountancy practice or industry. Similarly to any professional education, when you study for an ACCA qualification, you will need to put in hard work and commitment. The qualification takes 3-4 years on average to complete. AAT students can gain free exemptions for the Applied Knowledge level exams meaning that you could complete the remaining qualification within 2 years.
Qualify with ACCA, and you will have the skills and knowledge needed to become a finance professional. You’ll have choices about where you want to work, which sector you want to work in, what roles you want to pursue, and even better, the difference you want to make.
The Key facts that you should know about ACCA courses are:
- Covers everything from digital, data and technology to advisory and consultancy, as well as both management and financial accounting, giving you a fully-rounded skill set.
- Has four specialist exams to choose from that enable you to specialise and explore a specific career path or sector
- The Qualification is studied across all employment sectors and is recognised in 178 countries across the world
- Offers flexible exam choices – sit in centre or at home
- Membership demonstrates to employers that you have the relevant Practical Experience Requirement (three years) and improves workplace effectiveness through completion of the Ethics and Professional Skills Module.
ACCA Course Structure
- Applied Knowledge: Three on-demand computer-based exams. These exams are exempt with AAT Level 4
- Applied Skills: Six session computer-based exams
- Strategic Professional: Two compulsory computer-based exams and a minimum of two of the four optional exams
ACCA On Demand exams are available all year round and session exam sittings are held in March, June, September and December.
The CIMA qualification is undoubtedly the world’s largest professional body for management accountants. Unlike most other courses, CIMA will not enable you to set up in practice. This is because the CIMA qualification is aimed at those already working in company finance or management positions. As a result of prior experience, most students pass the CIMA qualification within 3 years. In short, CIMA students will study CIMA theory, as well as participating in practical work experience. Although this element is not admired by everybody. Almost all CIMA students do consider this as being beneficial to their progress and development.
The key facts you should know about CIMA courses are:
- It combines finance and business; consequently giving you more than just accounting knowledge
- You will not only be financially qualified. You will also be professionally trained in business management. This therefore means you will be capable of advising your future clients on business strategy and risk management
- CIMA is predominantly studied by employees in industry and the public sector, although it does appeal to others
- The CIMA course requires 3 years PER.
CIMA Course Structure
- The Certificate in Business Accounting (4 CBA’s) – However, being AAT qualified would give you exemptions from these four certificate level papers (BA1, BA2, BA3 and BA4)
- Operational level (3 CBA’s and a case study)
- Management level (3 CBA’s and a case study)
- Strategic level (3 CBA’s and a case study).
CBAs (Also know as Classroom-Based Assessments) are held on demand, with case study papers on schedule four times a year.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW/ACA)
Founded in 1880, ICAEW is one of the oldest accountancy bodies in the world. As a result of this, it has more than 184,500 members and students in 148 countries.
ICAEW Chartered Accountants are the largest source of business advice in the UK. As as result of this, they reach more than 1.5 million organisations. The ACA qualification prepares you for leadership, right up to board level. Due to this, over 80 of the FTSE 100 companies have at least one ICAEW Chartered Accountant on their board.
The ICAEW course in particular, is popular with those who are employed on a training contract with an ICAEW approved employer. It should be noted that if you are AAT qualified, you would be exempt* from some of the Certificate level papers. Which consequently means you can be fast-tracked to the Professional level. On account of the high quality tuition we offer at FI, most students qualify within about 2½ years.
The key facts for ICAEW courses are:
- ICAEW students must work for an authorised employer. Being in a formal training agreement is also beneficial. You will also need to have regular six-monthly reviews with a senior qualified member of your team
- The AAT-ACA Fast Track route provides level 4 AAT qualified students with up to 5 credits* towards ACA exams. This therefore enables you to qualify as an ICAEW Chartered Accountants in as little as 2 years
- The ACA comprises of 4 components: 15 exams, 450 days of practical work experience, professional development and ethics
- The syllabus and exams will prepare you with the technical knowledge, advisory, commercial and digital skills. Therefore ensuring you you are business-readyfor any organisation
- ACA students have a first time pass rate of 80%
- ACA students and members are in high demand across all sectors, not just in practice (50% work in Industry and Public Sector).
ICAEW Course Structure
- 6 Certificate level computer-based assessments On demand – Exempt from up to 5 with AAT Level 4*
- 6 Professional level exams – March, June, September and December sittings
- 3 Advanced level exams – July and November sittings.
*Are you AAT qualified? In this situation, you would be exempt from some of the certificate level papers. These include:
- Accounting, Management Information and Business & Finance
- Assurance if completed optional External Auditing paper at level 4
- Principles of Tax if completed BOTH optional tax papers at level 4.
Do you want to find out more about our professional finance and management qualifications?
See our qualification guides. Above all, these aim to clearly set out the main points, focus and structure of each qualification that we offer. In addition to this, you will also gain access to an array of helpful articles on FI HUB.
Do you need a some help with your choices?
With FI you are never on your own. You can arrange to speak with one of our experts, who will be happy to help answer any of your questions.