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 finance career, 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 some certification programs available for students, entry-level professionals, and experienced professionals, designed to develop and validate specific capabilities for finance professionals’ benefit. CFACFAThe Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) Program offers a graduate-level curriculum and examination program designed to expand your working knowledge and practical skills related to investment decision-making. read more and ACCAACCAACCA as a qualification is growing very fast and across the globe. The article provides you all the details concerning examination date, format, eligibility criteria, pass percentage, fees and many more about ACCA certification more 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 in making an informed choice.


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What is CFA?

Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Institute offers one of the most competitive financial credentials, widely considered the “gold standardGold StandardThe gold standard was a monetary term used when gold exchange was used instead of paper more” 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 aspiring finance professionals’ capabilities.

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 significantly help students or accounting professionals boost their career prospects.

CFA vs. ACCA Infographics


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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 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

Organizing BodyThe exams are governed by the CFA Institute, USA.The exams are governed by the  Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), UK.
PatternTo become CFA qualified, the candidates have to clear three sequential levels

  • Level I
  • Level II
  • Level III
To become ACCA qualified, the candidates have to clear three levels of

  • Applied Knowledge
  • Applied Skills
  • Strategic Professional
Duration of CourseIf the candidates can clear all the exams in their first attempt, then they can complete the course in a span of 4 years.The mandatory time limit for the course is 10 years from passing the first exam. However, most candidates take 3-4 years to complete the course.
SyllabusThe syllabus primarily includes the following topics

  • Economics
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Ethics & Professional Standards
  • Corporate Finance
  • Portfolio Management
  • Fixed Income
  • Equity Investments
  • Alternative Investments
  • Derivatives
The syllabus primarily includes the following topics

  • Financial Reporting
  • Financial Management
  • Accounting & Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Ethical & Professional Standards





Exam FeesThe overall cost of the course comes to be in the range of $2,550 to $3,450, which includes the exam fees along with the enrollment fee. The cost primarily varies based on the time of registration.The overall cost of the course comes to be in the range of £1,200 to £2,000, which includes the exam fees along with the annual subscription and registration fee. The variation in cost is due to the difference in the time of registration.
JobsSome of the common profiles include

  • Strategic Analyst
  • Wealth Manager
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Investment Analyst
  • Financial Consultant
Some of the common profiles include

  • Accountant
  • Internal Auditor
  • Financial Consultant
  • Finance Manager
  • Tax Manager
DifficultyThe level of difficulty is very high as only ~10% of the candidates who start the course are able to qualify as CFA charterholders. The pass rates of Level-I, Level-II, and Level-III exams conducted in June 2019 were 41%, 44%, and 56% respectively.


The level of difficulty is quite high as only ~30% of the candidates passed in some of the subjects. The pass rates for the Applied Knowledge exams conducted in March 2020 were in the range of 65% to 82%, while that for the Strategic Professional (Options) exams were in the range of 32% to 44%.
Exam DateThe upcoming exams for the year 2021 will take place as follows

  • Level I: February 16 – March 01, May 18-24, August 24-30, November 16-22
  • Level II: May 25 – June 01, August 31 – September 04
  • Level III: May 25 – June 01, November 23-25
The upcoming exams for the year 2021 will take place as follows

  • March 01-05
  • June 07-11




Why Pursue CFA?

Finance professionals involved in equity research, financial modelingFinancial ModelingFinancial modeling refers to the use of excel-based models to reflect a company's projected financial performance. Such models represent the financial situation by taking into account risks and future assumptions, which are critical for making significant decisions in the future, such as raising capital or valuing a business, and interpreting their more, investment management, and other areas can benefit greatly by earning CFA Charter. It can help enhance career prospects by equipping them with expert knowledge of complex finance areas and adding to their credibility in the eyes of industry-leading employers.

For non-investment professionals, it can prove to be of great advantage as a valued credential, which brings 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 and 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, auditing, and several other critical areas, including law, business studies, financial management, financial reportingFinancial ReportingFinancial Reporting is the process of disclosing all the relevant financial information of a business for a particular accounting period. These reports are used by the stakeholders (investors, creditors/ bankers, public, regulatory agencies, and government) to make investing and other relevant decisions. read more, 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 a better fit for students or professionals looking to advance their prospects as accounting or auditing professionals.

Both of the credentials are globally acknowledged, but CFA is miles ahead of ACCA regarding 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 worth it.

However, CFA is more suited for experienced finance professionals looking to specialize in a certain area. In contrast, ACCA is best for entry-or mid-level professionals looking to widen their career horizons while acquiring useful accountingAccountingAccounting Skills are the set of skills required to present business transactions comprising of financial and non-financial in the books of accounts as per prescribed Standards of Accounting (US GAAP, IFRS, Ind AS) and as a part of legal compliance and analysis of business outcome in an optimum more and auditing skills.

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to CFA vs. ACCA. Here we discuss the key difference between CFA and ACCA and infographics to help you choose the right professional course. You can learn more from the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. Henry johenson says

    Thank you for sharing such a knowledgeable post. Sir I also need some advice that if I do CFA then what are the best opportunities that I can go for, and what are the things that I should know before going into the best occupation or in any industry?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Many thanks Henry! If you do CFA, there are many opportunities that you can go for. But before that you need to decide yourself which occupation or industry that you should go in. You can either go for portfolio management, Investment Banking, research analysis or else besides this you can also go for any other financial domain.

  2. Raul Sylvian says

    Thanks for sharing this awesome comparison between CFA and ACCA. Could also like to share some ACCA Exam tips, so that I can understand the clear concept of ACCA Qualification.

  3. sheriff says

    Why havent you compared CFA with CPA, why always ACCA. To me its like comparing CISA/CIA with ACCA. After Qualifying as a chartered accountant then its left to you to choose which area you want to specialize on. Always Compare likes with likes otherwise your comparism faces a huge limitation

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks Sheriff for your feedback. I did compare CFA vs CFA in a separate post. Please let me know what you think – CPA vs CFA

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