Why should an Indian CA pursue ACCA?

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ACCA stands for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. It was founded in 1904 with the aim to develop additional capacity in the accounting profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. The organisation’s values are aligned to the needs of employers across all sectors and ACCA ensures that it prepare accountants for business.

The academic background of ACCA is highly focused on the fundamental aspects of accounting, reporting and business. Each subject of the professional level (last level) of ACCA has a complete focus on leadership and the strategic approach to the technical subject matter and links business with the requirement of leadership and strategy.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament, viz. The Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 (Act No.XXXVIII of 1949) for to regulate the profession of Chartered Accountancy in India. ICAI functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. It is the second largest professional body of Chartered Accountants in the world, with a strong tradition of service to the Indian economy in public interest..

The affairs of the ICAI are managed by a Council, in accordance with the provisions of the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 and the Chartered Accountants Regulations, 1988. The Council comprises 40 members of whom 32 are elected by the Chartered Accountants. The remaining eight are nominated by the Central Government, generally representing the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Finance and other stakeholders.

The Indian CA has an academic background that is completely focused on the key aspects of Accounting, Auditing and Taxation. The course is highly reliant on the aspects of domestic regulatory and compliance framework. Therefore, professions in audit and taxation in the country are dominated by CA professionals.

With three levels of examination and three years of practical training commonly called as articleship, CA students undergo rigorous practical work exposure towards the practical aspects of the theoretical course.

Unfortunately, the structure of the Indian CA course has an enormous amount of information overload wherein the students are required to remember a lot of concepts, information, tax laws and other academic information to clear the examination successfully. Such an examination structure enables the student to gain technical skills and the following soft skills:

  • Multi-tasking
  • Memorising and recall
  • Information gathering
  • Hard work

However, in the current business world there are certain skills which are required by each and every finance professional in the world. Some of the following skills are generally lacking the Indian CA course:

  • Communication
  • Business acumen
  • Leadership
  • Key conceptual understanding
  • Business strategy

As mentioned earlier, while the Indian CA course academically focuses on the aspects of Accounting, Auditing & Taxation, various aspects of business and strategy are totally ignored and not considered.

For the ACCA, there are 13 exams overall, out of which the first nine exams are exempt for qualified Cas. This means that they only have to write four papers at the professional level to achieve the ACCA degree, over and above their existing CA degree. The following four exams which have to be given by an Indian CA for ACCA:

  1. Two compulsory papers, namely:
  • Strategic Business Leader (SBL) – Consists of a 100-mark single case study question which covers all the various aspects of business, leadership and strategy in a business environment. This paper enables an existing CA to gain additional skills of leadership, business and strategy.
  • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR) – Consists of three questions covering 100 marks which tests the knowledge of IFRS, its implementation and computational requirements. In addition, it covers various aspects of the global reporting framework, including sustainability reporting, integrated reporting, human capital reporting, social and environmental reporting. This paper enables an existing CA to gain additional skills of IFRS, the global reporting framework and reporting in business scenarios.

  1. Two optional papers from any four below:
  • Advanced Financial Management (AFM) – Three questions covering 100 marks. This paper is based upon the principles of Strategic Financial Management (SFM) paper of the CA final exam. However, the level of examination and academic results of the ACCA paper are more strategic, in terms of decision-making in business environments.
  • Advanced Performance Management (AFM) – Three questions covering 100 marks. This paper is based upon the principles of the Costing paper of the CA final exam. However, the level of examination and academic results of the ACCA paper are again more strategic in terms of decision-making in business environments, wherein the CA final exam, it is more linked to computational aspects.
  • Advanced Taxation UK (ATX) – Three questions covering 100 marks. This paper is based upon the taxation laws of the UK. It is recommended for those CA professionals who are working in the tax domain and are interested in working in taxation in the UK.
  • Advanced Auditing & Assurance (AAA) – Three questions covering 100 marks. This paper is based upon the principles of international standards of auditing and focused on the needs of professionals in the audit domain. The questions are based upon real life cases and cover the aspects of real-life scenarios. Therefore, a thorough understanding of auditing standards and their application is a must for attempting this paper.

The above exams provide opportunity for an Indian CA to get the skills of leadership, business and strategy which were completely missing from the erstwhile CA course undertaken by them. This also enables Indian CAs to discover their entrepreneurial skills with the support of ACCA.

A lot of Indian CAs have the dilemma of selecting optional papers. Considering the aspects of knowledge and business, it is recommended that the papers of AFM and APM be taken up. This is since in the cases of ATX and AAA, the learning for a CA professional would be limited. With regard to the compulsory papers, both are different for a CA professional and add a lot of value in their future professional career.


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1 Comment

  1. varun sethupathi says:

    Thanks for sharing this info, keep posting

    Varun Sethupathi

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