Considering the fact that the Nepalese market still lacks the required level of awareness as to the career prospects that professional accountancy entails the many different choices that are there within the domain of professional accountancy and most importantly regarding ACCA as a qualification and a career choice, I have decided to come up with this write-up.
This write-up about ACCA course consists of three sections:
- Professional Accountancy as a career choice
- ACCA as a professional accountancy qualification
- ACCA degree in the context of Nepal
Professional Accountancy as a career choice in Nepal and abroad
There is plethora of choices available to an individual when it comes to building a respectable career both in terms of the financial return and the status. However, the fact that professional accountancy stands out distinctly among these choices is mainly because of the wide range of career prospects/scope that this provides. Businesses require accountants, finance managers, auditors (internal/external), managers, consultants, policy makers as part and parcel of their operations and strategies. The need for this skilled manpower is best addressed by the professional accountants.
When it comes to Nepalese context, ICAN, ICAI and ACCA are the three major professional accountancy bodies fulfilling the need for this skilled manpower. Each of the bodies has its own features and USPs (Unique Selling Proposition) that sets it apart from the others. This write-up is basically focused upon ACCA as a choice for professional accountancy qualification as has been already stressed.
ACCA as a professional accountancy qualification
Established in 1904 with the objective of contributing to the global economy by producing qualified accountants, ACCA is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing professional accountancy bodies. This is evidenced by the fact that ACCA operates in 180 countries throughout the world, has 91 offices and centres globally, 400 examination centres, 170,000 members, 436,000 students, 230 Approved Learning Partners and the fact that every eight minutes someone, somewhere in the world registers with ACCA. In a nutshell, ACCA is the global professional accountancy body with an unrivalled network.
The USPs of ACCA that sets it apart from its competitors includes:
- Flexibility: There is no group system in ACCA unlike the other bodies existent in Nepal, though there was one previously, meaning subjects need not be passed in groups. The maximum number of papers that can be sat for in a sitting is restricted to four; the minimum depends upon one’s own convenience and workload. A pass in a paper is permanent, only the failed paper needs to be re-sat. The combination of the papers can be decided upon, there is no hard and fast requirement that the papers need to be completed in a particular sequence.
- Global Mobility: An ACCA student is a global student. Study can be furthered and completed in countries ranging from Australia to Zimbabwe i.e. A to Z. Exams can be sat for in any of the 400 examination centres throughout the world. For e.g if a student completes nine of his/her ACCA papers in Nepal and then decides to go to UK and further his/her ACCA study, s/he should then complete only the remaining five out of the total 14 papers of ACCA.
- International Recognition: As has already been stressed ACCA is a global qualification with its members working for and adding value to employers in many different parts of the world. With this qualification you are not restricted to any particular geographical boundary but can build a truly global career. Should opportunities come around and the employers value your skills/competence, you can readily work for them no matter in what part of the globe they are based.
Besides these other pertinent features of ACCA include the following:
- Innovation (This is something which lies at the heart of ACCA. ACCA periodically reviews the qualification, updates/upgrades it if need be, streamlines its operations, examination systems. All these contribute to ensure that ACCA continues to be more relevant to the need of time and is valued by employers and students alike)
- ACCA is the first professional accountancy body to introduce the online career portal: accacareers.com to support its members for job placements and career building.
- ACCA is the first professional accountancy body to offer 24/7 administrative support to its members, students and other stakeholders.
- ACCA’s unique partnership with Oxford Brookes University enables its students to gain a B.Sc (Hons) Degree as well as an MBA in course of gaining the ACCA qualification. Also ACCA’s recent partnerships with University of London and the Institute of Internal Auditors enable its members and students to gain the MSc in Professional Accountancy and the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) qualifications respectively.
- ACCA has partnerships with many accountancy bodies and employers globally which ensure that employers are aware of ACCA as a qualification and the skills/competencies that its members have.
- ACCA supports the continuing professional development of its members and the technical development of its students/tutors through the provision of the magazine Accountant in Business and Student Accountant/Teach Magazine respectively. These magazines are highly valued by its readers.
- ACCA’s website has unrivalled wealth of resources readily accessible to its member, students, learning providers and other stakeholders.
- ACCA is an application based qualification rather than knowledge based. Besides ensuring that its students have the required level of technical competences, ACCA exams are so designed that they ensure students have the required analytical skills to understand and interpret the implications of the numbers and facts to businesses. This thus ensures that the students are more work –ready and thus capable of providing immediate value the employers.
Course structure, time duration and cost:
ACCA as a qualification has been structured into three modules namely the Knowledge Level, the Skills level and the Professional Level. There are 3 papers under knowledge, 6 under skills and 7 under professional (out of which 5 are to be completed: 3 being compulsory and the rest 4 optional). Altogether 14 papers have to be sat for and completed. Exams are held twice a year one in June while the other in December. Maximum of 4 papers can be sat in one sitting while the minimum depends upon one’s convenience as determined by workload and other relevant factors. The entry point at ACCA depends upon an individual’s qualification and/or the board/university s/he has gained the qualification from.
Exams are just one facet of any professional qualification. Like all other professional qualifications, experience is another integral part of ACCA. Besides the completion of the exams of the fourteen papers, one needs to additionally attain 36 months (3 years) Practical Experience Requirement. Another beauty of ACCA is that the PER can be fulfilled in course of ACCA study or even after the completion of the exams of all papers. However, it is advisable that the experience is gained in course of the study. This ensures that the skills are transferred to the work while afresh and the knowledge gained in course of work aids the professional level studies as well.
Another integral part of ACCA qualification is ethics. A student needs to compulsorily complete the online professional ethics module which ensures s/he understand the nuances of ethics and the need/importance to behave ethically in business scenarios.
A distinction needs to be made here between an ACCA Affiliate and an ACCA Member. An individual is an ACCA Affiliate if s/he has just completed the 14 papers’ exams but is yet to complete the 36 months’ Practical Experience Requirement. But an ACCA Member is one who has completed the requirements of all the three Es i.e. Exams, Experience and Ethics.
As regards the cost, an investment of tentatively Rs. 4-4.5 lakhs currently has to be made in the context of Nepal for the completion of ACCA qualification. I personally believe that this is reasonable given that a world-class qualification is being gained and that too locally.
ACCA in the context of Nepal
With increased production of ACCAs in Nepal fuelled by the increasing number of Learning Providers and the increasing market awareness, ACCAs are presently working in diverse sectors ranging from the developmental to banks and financial institutions and other major corporate houses. As more ACCAs are being absorbed onto the economy and are providing value to the employers, employers too are becoming increasingly aware of ACCA as a qualification and the value to the business in being associated with a globally reputed qualification. Presently there is a high concentration of ACCAs in the developmental sector and MNCs with an equally substantial number in the banks and financial institutions in Nepal. Many ACCAs prefer to move abroad and build careers in regions like Middle East, Europe and Australia as well.
However, an issue of contention in Nepalese context is that ACCA and ICAN have not struck any agreements as such which could have benefitted the members of both the professional accountancy bodies. Needless to say then that ACCAs in Nepal are not entitled to hold CoP (Certificate of Practice) i.e. the audit license which is issued by ICAN in Nepal. However recent developments have paved the path for even ACCAs to obtain ICAN membership with ACCA already having opened its doors for ICAN members to pursue and complete the global qualification i.e. ACCA. Nonetheless because of the impact of globalization, Nepal being a member of WTO and the adoption of IAS/IFRS (International Accounting Standards/International Financial Reporting Standards) in Nepal, the employment prospects, market awareness and therefore the overall sale-ability are looking increasingly brighter.
The content was written by Rabin Katwal, FCCA.