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. The ACCA opens up many career opportunities in the world of finance, whether in accountancy practice or industry. Similarly to any professional education, studying ACCA requires hard work and commitment. However with the right drive, most students qualify within about 3 years. Key facts you should know about ACCA courses are:
- It is the global body for professional accountants
- ACCA courses have more focus on compliance and audit, as well as financial reporting and tax
- The ACCA qualification is typically studied by employees in practice, industry and the public sector, although it does appeal to other sectors
- ACCA is recognised in many countries across the world
- It requires 3 years PER to qualify.
ACCA Course Structure
- Knowledge level (3 CBA’s (Computer Based Assessments) – AB, MA and FA)- Exempt with AAT Level 4
- Skills level (6 papers)
- Professional level – 2 compulsory papers
- Professional level – 2 optional papers (2 papers from 4 options).
Exam sittings occur in March, June, September and December.
The CIMA qualification is undoubtedly the world’s largest professional body of management accountants. Unlike other courses, CIMA will not enable you to set up in practice. This is because the CIMA qualification is aimed at those working in company finance or management positions. As a result of this, most students pass the CIMA qualification within 3 years. Along with study of CIMA theory, there is also a requirement for practical work experience within this course. Although this is not for everybody. Almost all CIMA students view this as being beneficial to their progress and development. Key features of CIMA courses are:
- It combines finance and business; giving you more than just accounting knowledge
- You will not only be financially qualified but also professionally trained in business management. This therefore means you will be capable of advising 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
- Certificate level (4 CBA’s) – Being AAT qualified would consequently 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 (Classroom-Based Assessments) are held on demand, with case study papers on schedule for four times a year.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW/ACA)
The ICAEW is also one of the leading professional accountancy qualifications in the UK. The ICAEW course in particular, is popular with those who are employed on a training contract with an ICAEW approved employer. This therefore means that. In addition to practical experience, you must also complete the Certificate in Finance and Business (CFAB). This consequently involves six certificate level modules of the ACA qualification. However, if you are AAT qualified, you would be exempt* from some of the Certificate level papers, and then fast-tracked to the Professional level. Most students who study an ICAEW course qualify within about 2½ years. Key facts for ICAEW courses are:
- ICAEW is highly respected around the world, in business, practice and the public sector
- The ICAEW course is primarily studied by employees working in practice. However it is starting to become more popular in industry
- ICAEW students must work for an authorised employer.
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.
*Being AAT qualified would give you exemptions 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. These aim to clearly set out the main points, focus and structure of each qualification that we offer. Furthermore, you can access 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.