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

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With the job market scenario in India is fast-changing, having only a graduate degree is table stakes, putting you at par with everyone else. If a Bachelor’s degree is all that you have, you are unlikely to find a coveted position in a reputed organization. Today, students need to look for specialized professional courses beyond their graduation degree to be employable.

Chartered Accountancy courses are extremely popular particularly among individuals who want to build a career in accounting and finance. It is a profession that is held in high regard across India and the world. However, considering that the average pass percentage for CA exams is in single digits, it is difficult to get a CA degree. While extremely comprehensive and highly recognized, the CA course has an inflexible structure that makes it very challenging to pursue for those who want to work and study simultaneously. On the other hand, ACCA is a global chartered accountancy qualification that can open up opportunities in the Big 4 accounting firms as well as MNCs in India and globally.


ACCA Vs. CA: Which is tough and better to pursue?

We will now analyze the two most sought out qualifications available for graduates - CA and ACCA. While you are likely already to be aware of what is the CA course, we would need to start with a bit of an introduction to ACCA.


What is ACCA?

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or ACCA is an international professional accounting body with over 200,000 members. Recognized in over 186 countries, it has provided training to more than 400,000 students. With an increasing demand for ACCA qualifications in the international job market, more than 7000 employers worldwide, including 90% of Fortune 500 companies, employ ACCA qualified individuals.


Who can join?

Students can do the ACCA course after completing grade 10 of the CBSE, ICSE or state board. It is a little-known fact that, in addition to those pursuing graduation in Commerce, students pursuing B.A. or B.Sc. can also qualify for ACCA. By pursuing an ACCA qualification while completing their graduation, students can have an ACCA degree by the time they graduate and directly enter the job market. The course structure is flexible enough for it to be taken up by mid-career employees in the finance or administrative domain.


About ACCA Curriculum & Exams

ACCA has 13 papers, comprising 4 levels:

  • Knowledge – 3 papers
  • Skills – 6 papers
  • Essentials – 2 papers
  • Options – 2 papers from 4

On completing the grades 10 or 12 board exam, students are eligible to enroll at the knowledge level.


Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of ACCA:

  • ACCA includes papers on UK GAAP, Laws & IFRS. Multinational companies or organizations with overseas clients such as the Big 4 firms look for talent with this knowledge
  • ACCA is recognized by countries like Australia, Canada, UK and degree holders can apply for jobs in these countries

It is important to understand CA and ACCA in the Indian context.

  1. The relevance of ACCA and CA in India

ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) is the sole body that gives the CA qualification in the country and a qualified person is eligible to practice as a Chartered Accountant in India.

ACCA is an international Chartered Accountancy qualification and multinational companies doing business around the globe who follow global standards in accountancy employ ACCA practitioners. For someone who is looking to practice tax-related work only in India, CA would be the best option.

  1. Passing the exam

CA exam is extremely competitive and very tough to qualify with pass percentages as low as 3-4 percent.

ACCA is also tough but lays more emphasis on understanding and application as well as has a more flexible structure. The ACCA pass percentage of 40-50% is also far better than that for a CA qualification.

  1. Articleship and Training

ACCA and CA both require 3 years of practical experience. However, for ACCA, there is no requirement for articleship as it is required for CA. In ACCA, students are exposed to the practical world and are allowed to work in any given financial position. The rules are not as rigid as that of the CA course.

ACCA students can earn a regular salary from their companies while gaining practical experience. On the other hand, CA students often receive meager amounts as stipends during their articleships.

  1. Potential salary income post-qualification

Since salaries and compensation packages depend on a variety of factors such as job experience, qualifications, etc., it cannot be generalized. However, in broad terms, usually, ACCA trainees earn slightly more than the CA counterparts in India, if they work for the Big 4 firms or MNCs. In India, the ACCA salary ranges from Rs. 4 to Rs. 14 lakhs per annum.

  1. Flexibility

ACCA is much more flexible than CA and offers on-demand Computer Based Exams as well as quarterly written exams which can be taken individually.

  1. Mutual Exemptions
  • ACCA offers exemptions for 9 papers (the maximum on offer for any qualification in the world) to individuals who have already qualified for CA
  • Articleship experience of CA is counted towards ACCA’s PER (Practical Experience Requirement)
  • ACCA provide fees waiver on registrations for CAs.

On the other hand, an ACCA degree holder seeking a CA qualification needs to work on all CA papers without exemption, as well as participate in the articleship programs as per ICAI guidelines.

In India, ACCA is a relatively newer qualification compared to CA. An ACCA degree holder doesn’t have signing authority for audit reports in India since the course considers UK tax laws and policies. Therefore, an ACCA degree holder cannot practice tax-related work in India.

However, with Indian Accounting Standards being aligned with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and companies publishing financial statements as per IFRS, ACCA qualified professionals are at an advantageous position.

Both ACCA and CA qualifications have their advantages, what matters is to take a long-term view of your career, consider your ultimate job goals and choose your course accordingly.


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