ACCA vs CPA, which one is better?

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Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are two different courses which are pursued by Accountants, auditors and other financial professionals. Many of those planning to do one of them often get confused which one is better. But according to our understanding and feedback from professionals, ACCA is better than CPA.

ACCA is better because it’s being examined by a single body, so the global standard of examination is similar.CPA on the other hand is examined by countries offering the program. For instance, in Kenya CPA is offered by KASNEB.

Employment

In terms of employment, ACCA is more marketable. Most multinational companies recognize ACCA only because they understand that exam being done by all students is similar. If you are going to work in another country, they will hardly recognize your CPA certificate but if you possess ACCA, they will recognize it.This means that ACCA has more job opportunities that CPA.

Reading materials

Reading materials for CPA are easily accessible compared to ACCA.But this doesn’t mean that CPA is better. We have even gone through CPA reading materials, examiners keep on repeating the same questions, implying that students are not learning any new thing.

Syllabuses

Certified Public Accountants (CPA)

Foundation Level

Financial Accounting

Communication Skills

Introduction to Law

Governance Economics

Quantitative Analysis

Information Communication Technology

Intermediate Level

Company Law

Financial Management

Financial Reporting and Analysis

Auditing and Assurance

Management Accounting

Public Finance and Taxation

Advanced Level

Compulsory papers

  • Leadership and Management
  • Advanced Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Advanced Financial Management

Specialisation papers (One to be selected, double specialisation allowed)

  • Advanced Taxation
  • Advanced Auditing and Assurance
  • Advanced Management Accounting
  • Advanced Public Financial Management
  • Business Data Analytics (Practical Paper)

ACCA Syllabus

ACCA has three main levels:

1- The Applied knowledge stage which contains three exams; Business and Technology (BT), Management Accounting (MA), Financial Accounting (FA). 2- The Applied Skills stage which contains six exams; Corporate and Business Law (LW), Performance Management (PM), Taxation (TX), Financial Reporting (FR), Audit and Assurance (AA), Financial Management (FM). 3- The Strategic Professional stage which contains six exams;

However, two are essentials; Strategic Business Leader (SBL), Strategic Business Reporting (SBR) and four are options; Advanced Financial Management (AFM), Advanced Performance Management (APM), Advanced Taxation (ATX), Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA).

Applied Knowledge

The Applied Knowledge exams provides students with a broad introduction to the world of finance and develop your essential understanding and techniques in accounting.  These exams are:

  • Business and Technology (BT)
  • Financial Accounting (FA)
  • Management Accounting (MA)

Applied Skills

The Applied Skills exams build on existing knowledge and understanding and develop strong, broad and practical finance skills required of future strategic professional accountant in any sector or industry. These exams are:

  • Corporate and Business Law (LW)
  • Taxation (TX)
  • Financial Reporting (FR)
  • Performance Management (PM)
  • Financial Management (FM)
  • Audit and Assurance (AA)

Strategic Professional

The Strategic Professional exams prepare students for future leadership positions. They develop the strategic vision using your unique blend of technical, ethical and professional skills. And you can specialise in areas that best suit your career ambitions. Students must complete both Essentials exams and choose two of the Options.  These exams are:

Essentials

  • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
  • Strategic Business Leader (SBL)

Options

  • Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
  • Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)
  • Advanced Taxation (ATX)
  • Advanced Performance Management (APM)

From the above syllabuses, you will notice that they look similar but ACCA is more advanced.

ACCA vs CPA fees structure

CPA is cheaper than ACCA.You will spend less than Ksh 30,000 to complete CPA but ACCA will cost approximately Ksh 100,000 to complete.

Generally, it’s better to study ACCA than CPA if you want to become more marketable and rise in your career faster.