ACCA Vs. CA: Is it better to pursue ACCA or CA?

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ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and CA (Chartered Accountant) are both professional qualifications in the field of accounting. Both qualifications are highly respected and offer a wide range of career opportunities, but they have some key differences.
The main difference between ACCA and CA is their geographical scope and focus. ACCA is a global professional accounting body, while CA is a designation specific to certain countries. ACCA is a global qualification that focuses on providing a broad range of accounting and finance knowledge. The ACCA qualification is divided into two parts: the Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills exams, which are designed to provide a solid foundation in accounting and finance, and the Strategic Professional exams, which focus on advanced financial management and professional skills.
CA is a professional qualification that is specific to certain countries, primarily India and some other Commonwealth countries. The Chartered Accountancy course is primarily aimed at providing practical and technical knowledge in the field of accounting and auditing. The CA course is divided into three levels: Foundation, Intermediate, and Final.
Both courses have a strong emphasis on professional ethics and standards, and both qualifications require candidates to have relevant work experience before becoming fully qualified. However, in this article, we will distinguish the differences between the two courses and provide answers to the questions listed below.
Should I pursue CA or ACCA? What is the difference?
Is ACCA better than CA?
Is ACCA more difficult than CA?
All the differences regarding salary, fees, difficulty, and duration are listed below.

Comparison between CA and ACCA

 
CA ACCA
Signing authority In India Overseas
Salary packages ₹5 – 8 lacs p.a. ₹5 – 8 lacs p.a.
Companies hiring All companies Big 4, MNCs
Syllabus Majorly Overlapping
Internship / Articleship Duration 3 years
Exam pattern Group system One paper at a time
Frequency of attempts 6 monthly 3 monthly
Duration 5 years 2.5 years
Fees 2.5 lacs 3.5 lacs

ACCA vs CA: Which is tough and better to pursue?

If you consider the number of papers and the time required to prepare for the exam, CA seems to be tough, but that doesn't mean ACCA is easy and easy to do. Just based on pass percentage, ACCA has a better pass rate than CA. However, ACCA is recognized in 180 countries, giving you wider and better career prospects and helping you gain global job opportunities.
It is no surprise that the CA course is commonly considered more difficult than the ACCA, considering the number of years, number of papers, course levels, and versatility of both courses. However, this is a completely subjective topic, and results may vary from case to case.
The flexibility in terms of test papers is one of the reasons why ACCA is slightly easier than CA. In CA, exams are grouped into 2 categories, namely Group 1 & Group 2. Both of which contain four papers each. So, if you fail a subject in that group, you will have to rewrite all the subjects in that group. On the other hand, in ACCA, you will only have to repeat a particular subject if you fail the exam and try your best.

Curriculum

The ACCA and CA curricula both cover a wide range of accounting and finance topics, but the specific subjects and the order in which they are studied may differ. For example, the CA curriculum includes a greater focus on tax law and compliance, while the ACCA curriculum includes a greater focus on financial management and strategy.

Signing Authority

Chartered Accountants (CAs) have signatory authority in India, with ICAI as the only signatory authority. ACCA has signature authority in many countries, like the UK, Dubai, etc.

Organizations Hiring and Average Salary for ACCA and CA in India

In companies that employ both qualifications, both receive the same salary packages. As freshers, qualified persons earn between 6 and 8 lacs per year.
While CAs are hired in all companies across India, ACCAs are hired more in MNCs like Big 4 (KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, EY), Grant Thornton, BDO, etc., and also in companies like Standard Chartered, JP Morgan, BNP Paribas, Maersk, ICICI Securities, Abans, etc.
ACCAs are hired in profiles like Accounting Advisory dealing with IFRS, Risk Advisory, Internal Audit, Statutory Audit, Forensic Audit, Mergers & Acquisitions, Valuation, etc.

 Syllabus

Most CA and ACCA subjects overlap, such as:
Accounting (IFRS vs Ind-AS)
Financial management
Costing (called Performance Management in ACCA)
Audit and Assurance (International Standards vs. Indian Standards)
The key difference between ACCA and CA is the subject of taxation, CA covers Indian taxation, and ACCA covers the taxation of countries like the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. We always advise our students to opt for UK taxation as it is the closest to Indian taxation.

CA vs ACCA: Exams Structure

The key difference between CA and ACCA exists in the structure of the exam.
  1. Group system
ICAI insists that we appear for the CA Foundation, IPCC, and Final CA group level exams. Most of these exams are divided into group 1 and group 2, each containing 4 exams. ACCA does not enforce any such mandate.  At a time, students can appear for up to 4 exams depending on their choice.
  1. Aggregate system
The reason CA's pass rate is so low compared to ACCA (40% worldwide) is because of the aggregate system. If a student fails in any CA exam by even one mark, the entire batch is considered to have failed. The student must reappear for the whole group. This makes it extremely difficult for CAs to meet the qualifications.
ACCA has no such rule. If a student appears for 3 exams and fails 1, he/she is considered to have passed the other 2. He/she can re-apply for the 1 failed with the next 2 papers. This enables students to pass these tests far more quickly.

Frequency of attempts

CA exams are held twice a year, in May and November.
ACCA exams are held quarterly in March, June, September, and December.

Internship / Articleship Duration

CA’s must finish their articleship within three years of passing IPCC Group 1 and before taking their final CA exam. For the majority of their articleship, they must work in a Chartered Accountant’s firm.
ACCAs can start their 3-year work experience before, during, or after their exams. The start and end dates are left to the discretion of the students. ACCA students are also not required to work in a CA firm, although we always advise students to do so. Additionally, we suggest that the student preferably works under a Chartered Accountant or an Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (it’s not mandatory). We encourage students to start working at the end of their skill level, but this is completely optional.
After 36 months of practice, students must complete their Performance Objectives and Ethics module to achieve a holistic experience under ACCA rules.

ACCA vs CA: Duration

On average, CA students take 6-8 years to complete their qualifications. For students who pass the exam on the first attempt, it takes 5 years including articleship.
ACCA students take an average of 2-3 years to complete the qualification. Students taking the exams together with 3 years of work experience will complete the ACCA in 3-4 years.

Exemptions

There are no exemptions offered by ICAI to CA students.
ACCA provides many exemptions, such as:
Graduation: 4 exemptions of 13 exams
IPCC passed + Graduate: 6 exemptions of 13 exams
CA qualified: 9 exemptions of 13 exams
Using the ACCA exemptions calculator, you may determine the exemptions you would be eligible for based on your academic background.

Fees

CA would cost ₹ 2 to 2.5 lac during the course. ACCA would cost ₹ 3.5 to 4.5 lac depending on the GBP rate and the exemptions you would be eligible for.

ACCA vs CA: Which is better?

No magic lamp works here. Both the CA and ACCA qualifications are equipped to provide the necessary skills and knowledge you need to join the workforce. However, both have their pros and cons. It is up to you to choose the course that is most suitable for your career. Once you've decided, focus on getting certified. Then you are ready to enter and find your place in the big, lucrative world of accounts and finance.
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