Difference Between CFA and ACCA
The full form of CFA is Chartered Financial Analyst and CFA institute organized this course and individuals with this degree can apply for the jobs of portfolio manager, research analyst, consultant, relationship manager, risk manager, chief executive, etc whereas ACCA stands for Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants organizes this course and aspirants with this degree can apply for the jobs of accountant, internal auditor, finance manager, tax management and financial consultant.
To develop a career in finance, it has become almost a necessity to earn a relevant degree or credential for requisite knowledge and skills which can be useful in a specialized area of finance. There are a number of certification programs available for students, entry-level professionals as well as experienced professionals, designed to develop and validate specific capabilities for the benefit of finance professionals. CFA and ACCA are two such specialized certification programs of international repute. One one side CFA is all about Investment Management, ACCA is more into detailed accounting and auditing.
In the course of this article, we will provide detailed information on CFA and ACCA along with a discussion of their relative merits to help those interested to make an informed choice.
What is CFA?
Offered by Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Institute, it is one of the most competitive financial credentials, widely considered the “gold standard” of financial analysis and investment management. It is undoubtedly one of the most rigorous certification programs in finance, which covers several key knowledge areas in finance making it the best fit for those interested in developing a career as a financial analyst or in the field of investment banking.
Although an MBA in Finance from one of the top institutes could be the preferred credentials for top investment banks, CFA Charter comes in a close second.
What is ACCA?
It is a highly valued credential offered by a global body for professional accountants, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), to help build key accounting skills and validate the capabilities of aspiring finance professionals.
This is a multi-tier certification program primarily focused on knowledge areas related to accountancy, taxation, and auditing. Though not on the same level as CFA in terms of reputation, it is a widely recognized credential that can help students or accounting professionals boost their career prospects significantly.
CFA vs ACCA Infographics
CFA and ACCA Entry Requirements
- For CFA You Need: To qualify for CFA, a candidate should have a Bachelor’s Degree (or they should be in the final year of Bachelor’s Degree) or 4 years of professional work experience or 4 years of higher education and professional work experience taken together.
- For ACCA You Need: To qualify for ACCA, one must have completed 10+2 from commerce stream, students pursuing graduation in commerce and those who have completed BA or B.Sc. with Foundation in Accountancy can qualify.
CFA vs ACCA Comparative Table
|Certification Organized by||CFA is offered by Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Institute||ACCA Qualification is offered by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)|
|Number of levels||CFA: CFA has 3 exam levels, each of them split into two exam sessions (morning and afternoon sessions) |
CFA Part I: Morning session: 120 multiple choice question
Afternoon session: 120 multiple choice questions
CFA Part II: Morning session: 10 item set questions
Afternoon session: 10 item set questions
CFA Part III: Morning session: Constructed response (essay) questions (usually between 8-12 questions) with a maximum of 180 points.
Afternoon session: 10 item set questions
|ACCA exams are divided into two levels: Fundamentals and Professional. Each of these levels if divided into two modules, Fundamentals level consisting of Knowledge and Skills modules and Professional level consisting of Essentials and Options modules. In the Professional level, one has to clear all 3 exams under Essentials module but only need to clear 2 of the 4 exams listed under Options module.|
|Mode/duration of examination||Across CFA Part I, II, III levels, there are morning and afternoon sessions of 3 hours each.||ACCA: The exam duration for 3 papers under Knowledge module of Fundamentals level is 2 hours each. All the other exams are of 3-hour duration|
|Exam Window||CFA Part I, II & III level exams are conducted on the first Saturday of June every year, Part I exam can also be taken in December||ACCA exams are conducted in the months of March, June and September every year.|
|Subjects||CFA content curriculum consists of 10 modules with increasing level of difficulty from CFA Part I exam to Part II & Part III exam respectively.|
These 10 modules consist of: -
1) Ethics and Professional Standards
2) Quantitative Methods
4) Financial Reporting and Analysis
5) Corporate Finance
6) Portfolio Management
7) Equity Investments
8) Fixed Income
10) Alternative Investments
|FUNDAMENTALS (NINE PAPERS IN TOTAL)
1) Accountant in Business
2) Management Accounting
3) Financial Accounting
1) Corporate and Business Law
2) Performance Management
4) Financial Reporting
5) Audit and Assurance
6) Financial Management
PROFESSIONAL (FIVE PAPERS IN TOTAL)
1) Governance, Risk and Ethics
2) Corporate Reporting
3) Business Analysis
Options (two to be completed)
1) Advanced Financial Management
2) Advanced Performance Management
3) Advanced Taxation
4 ) Advanced Audit and Assurance
|Pass percentage||The 14-year average pass rate for all three levels of CFA (from 2003 to 2016) was 52%.||ACCA December 2016 pass rates:- F1 82%; F2 63%; F3 71%; F4 82%; F5 40%; F6 52%; F7 50%; F8 40%; F9 45%; P1 49%; P2 51%; P3 49%; P4 33%; P5 30%; P6 34%; P7 31%
Please refer to the link for ACCA pass percentage:
|What you get on completion of certificate exam||CFA Charter Holder (on successful completion of all 3 levels of exam)||At the highest level, one can earn ACCA membership by completing:
1) At least 14 exams (a minimum of 5 exams including special exemptions).
2) Completing 36 months of practical work experience in a relevant professional role.
3) Completing the Professional Ethics Module.
|Job Opportunities/Job Titles||CFA is a high-profile credential focused on specialized areas related to financial analyis and investment management. It holds greater relevance for professionals interested in advancing their career in equity analysis, portfolio management or investment banking along with other related areas. Some of the relevant job roles include:|
Equity Research Analysts
|ACCA is focused on core accounting skills but also covers broader knowledge areas equipping participants with necessary knowledge and skill sets for roles related to financial management, business consultancy and organizational management as well. Some of the job roles for which it prepares a participant includes:
Why Pursue CFA?
Finance professionals involved in equity research, financial modeling, investment management, and other areas can benefit a great deal by earning CFA Charter. It can help enhance career prospects by equipping them with expert knowledge of complex areas in finance and adding to their credibility in the eyes of industry-leading employers.
For non-investment professionals as well it can prove to be of great advantage as a valued credential which brings along a lot of respectability and opens up new avenues of growth.
Why Pursue ACCA?
Partnering with more than 8,500 employers worldwide, ACCA opens up global work opportunities for students as well as professionals. Students and finance professionals interested in acquiring specialized knowledge of finance and accounting can opt for ACCA.
Entry requirements are not as stringent as well. Its course curriculum covers accounting, taxation, and auditing along with several other critical areas as well including law, business studies, financial management, financial reporting, and professional and ethical standards.
CFA is a highly specialized credential, suited for finance professionals seeking to develop expert capabilities in areas related to financial analysis and equity research. However, ACCA is a broad-based accounting certification and is a better fit for students or professionals looking to advance their prospects as an accounting or auditing professional.
Both of the credentials are globally acknowledged but CFA is miles ahead of ACCA in terms of its quality and value as a professional credential. CFA Charter is much more difficult to attain as compared to ACCA Qualification but it can be really worth it.
However, CFA is more suited for experienced finance professionals who are looking to specialize in a certain area whereas ACCA is best for entry-or mid-level professionals looking to widen their career horizons while acquiring useful skills in accounting and auditing.
This has been a guide to CFA vs ACCA. Here we discuss the key difference between CFA and ACCA along with infographics to help you choose the right professional course. You can learn more from the following articles –