The most common question asked at the time of choosing the qualification is, ‘Should i pursue CA or ACCA? What is the difference between ACCA and CA? Is ACCA better than CA? Is ACCA more difficult than CA?’
All the differences are mentioned below as a summary, with the details of the differences mentioned further below:
Chartered Accountants (CA) have signing authority in India, with ICAI having the sole signing authority. ACCAs have signing authority in many countries such as UK, Dubai, etc.
Companies hiring and salary for ACCA and CA
CA and ACCA earn the same salary packages in companies that hire both qualifications. Qualified members earn salaries between ₹6 to 8 lacs per annum as freshers.
While CAs are definitely hired in all companies across India, ACCAs are hired more in MNCs such as the Big 4 (KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, EY), Grant Thornton, BDO, etc. ACCAs are also hired in companies such as Standard Chartered, JP Morgan, BNP Paribas, Maersk, ICICI Securities, Abans, etc.
ACCAs are hired in profiles such as Accounting Advisory that deals with IFRS, Risk Advisory, Internal Audit, Statutory Audit, Forensic Audit, Mergers & Acquisitions, Valuations, etc.
ACCA and CA Syllabus
Most of the subjects of CA and ACCA overlap, such as:
Accounting (IFRS vs Ind-AS)
Costing (called Performance Management in ACCA)
Audit & Assurance (International Standards vs Indian Standards)
The primary difference between ACCA and CA is the Taxation subject - CA covers Indian tax and ACCA covers taxation of countries such as UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. We always suggest our students to opt for UK taxation as it is the closest to Indian taxation.
Difference in CA and ACCA exams
The primary difference between CA and ACCA exists in the exam structure.
ICAI insists we appear for exams in groups at the CA Foundation, IPCC and Final CA level. Most of these exams are split into Group 1 and Group 2, each comprising 4 exams. ACCA enforces no such mandate. Students are allowed to appear for 1 exam at a time, upto 4 exams at a time - as per the student’s discretion.
The reason why CA pass rates are so low compared to ACCA (40% globally) is due to the aggregate system. If a student fails any exam in CA by even 1 mark, the entire group is considered failed. The student has to re-appear for the entire group again. This makes it extremely difficult for CAs to clear the qualification.
ACCAs have no such rule. If a student appears for 3 exams and fails 1, he is considered passed for the other 2. He can re-appear for the 1 he failed in with the NEXT 2 papers. This allows students to pass these exams much faster.
Frequency of attempts
CA examinations are held bi-annually in May and November.
ACCA examinations are held quarterly in March, June, September and December.
CAs have to complete their articleship period of 3 years after passing IPCC Group 1 and have to complete their articleship before appearing for their Final CA exam. They have to work in a CA firm for most of their articleship.
ACCAs can start their 3 year work experience before, during or after their exams. The start and end date is left upto the discretion of the students. ACCA students also do not have to mandatorily work in a CA firm, although we always suggest students to follow this. We also suggest that the student should ideally work under a CA or an ACCA (this is not mandatory again). We recommend students to start working towards the end of their Skill Level, but this is completely optional.
After the 36 months work experience, students must complete their Performance Objectives and Ethics Module to achieve holistic experience as per the ACCA rules.
CA vs ACCA Duration
CA students on an average take 6-8 years to complete the qualification. Students clearing the exam in their first attempt take 5 years including articleship.
ACCA students on an average take 2-3 years to complete the qualification. Students clearing the exams along with the 3 year work experience complete ACCA within 3-4 years.
ICAI provides no exemptions to students pursuing CA.
ACCA provides many exemptions, such as:
Graduation: 4 exemptions of 13 ACCA exams
IPCC passed + Graduate: 6 exemptions of 13 ACCA exams
CA qualified: 9 exemptions of 13 ACCA exams
You can calculate exemptions you would receive based on your academic background using the ACCA exemptions calculation (link below)
CA and ACCA Fees
CA would cost ₹2 to 2.5 lacs over the span of the course whereas ACCA would cost ₹3.5 to 4.5 lacs depending on the GBP rate and exemptions you would be entitled to.
ACCA With CA
A lot of students that have completed CA or even partially completed CA (passed IPCC) can complete ACCA without wasting much time.
IPCC complete + Graduate: 6 exemptions of 13 exams in ACCA
Final CA complete: 9 exemptions of 13 exams in ACCA
This would make it extremely easy for students to complete ACCA along with CA!
IPCC students can complete 7 ACCA exams in 1 to 1.5 years along with their articleship.
CA qualified members can complete 4 ACCA exams in 6 months along with their job and earn themselves an international and global certification with CA.