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Accountant Qualifications

Please excuse my ignorance but I am confused over the difference between the terms certified, qualified and chartered and what the appropriate letters for the different levels of qualification are. Also, what level of qualification do the letters FCCA indicate? I would be grateful if anyone could spare the time to answer my query.


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By admin
05th May 2001 21:25

In the comments regardind AAT and ACCA,s CAT Jay Tannah implies that because AAT follows the NVQ format it is not as rigorous. This is not true since although some NVQ qualifications do not include traditional centrally marked exams the AAT does. It is also worth noting that for the central and Devolved assesments there is not a "pass mark" as such,it is necessary to prove competence so a few mistakes could cost the whole paper if it is considered that they indicate a fundamental lack of understanding.

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By admin
04th May 2001 23:23

Professional Qualifications
For WL Loh

You seem to be advocating AIA qualification quite vociferously. Can you tell me why your professional body does not allow potential students to download past exam papers?

ACCA, ICAEW, CIMA all have question papers online. Indeed, it is a good idea to do all exams if one has the time and money, but prof bodoes have to do their part in providing service to its students.

Jay Tanna

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By admin
05th May 2001 06:46

Professional bodies' services to students
I do not disagree with Jay Tanna that professional bodies should provide services like past years' Q & As for its students/lecturers. Besides this, professional bodies should respond to enquiries from students/lecturers on "grey areas" in its syllabus contents. Also, it is important that examiners hold forums to clear any doubts or concerns of students/lecturers. Updates, especially standards should be published regularly in its journals or newsletters.

Jay Tanna may wish to know that the AIA Chief Assessor Prof John Blake toured Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Hong Kong SAR in Nov 2000 to deliver talks for which I attended.

I have provided AIA's website and Jay Tanna could take on this matter of concerns with the AIA officials.

AIA should be given due mention here because it is not even mentioned for no apparent reason at all on the related topic - Accountants' Qualifications while all other popular bodies are mentioned (the CCAB). By mentioning so, will definitely seek to clarify the matter.

Even some textbooks or manuals at one time do not quote the AIA as a recognised UK RQB qualification. Why is it so???

The AIA has indeed produced registered auditor since its July 11, 1994 recognition by the DTI. Thus, it is a worthy qualification to be brought up here at the right moment of time!

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By admin
03rd May 2001 23:35

Accountant's Qualifications
I thought I should add my two pence worth of comments here. All the CCAB bodies have been mentioned here. Also, AAT, ATT, ATII have not been missed. How about CAT (Certified Accounting Technician). this qualification is similar to AAT except that it is all exam based while AAT is NVQ based. You can claim exemptions from AAT exams for practical experience (i.e. for being lucky to find a job after school!!) while you can't get any exemptions.

Also, how about ICAEW's own exams, but giving you PAC (Professional Accountancy Certificate). You don't have to sit for the case study paper(s) to get PAC. Also, you don't need any work experience.

Accountancy qualification is a business. The professional bodies will bend backwards to get money from you. Did you know you can pass certain ACCA exams by attending private colleges such as BPP, EW or FT.

Perhaps, there is a need for a unified qualification to avoid confusion. Don't tell me I am advocating monopoly!.

Jay Tanna

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By admin
04th May 2001 03:40

Select the right qualification for a career in accountancy
I believe it is more important to plan our career by establishing what we want to be. Here, all the known recognised UK accounting qualifications has been mentioned.

Before embarking on a suitable course of study in accountancy, one should decide whether he wishes to be attached to the commercial and industrial sector, or to be a registered auditor.

Qualifications from the following entitles you to become a registered auditor in the UK :-


Of the five, the first four are RSBs and RQBs whilst the AIA is a RQB.

Whereas CIPFA is popularly known for public sector accounting and auditing while CIMA is well-known as management accountants.

All the above bodies are members of the CCAB with the exception of the AIA.

If a qualification is "not highly regarded" at the present moment, it is probably a matter of time before it receives better attention and popularity. Members of the AIA in the UK should not feel "inferior" as they hold recognised RQB qualification entitling them to be registered auditors after fulfilling the necessary conditions. Not all CCAB bodies members can be auditors.

Thus, it is a matter of perception as to how one were to look up upon a recognised accounting qualification. What is more important is whether the qualification pursued will be able to fulfil one's career dream. MOST IMPORTANT is that the qualification pursued must be a recognised one in your own country in the discipline pursued and relevant.


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By admin
03rd May 2001 20:17

Now hear this
Apart from all you have just read, you can have certain accountants whose body is a member of CCAB but cannot be registered auditors. Then there are accountants without charter who can be registered auditors and yet whose body is barred from being a member of CCAB. Now that is very odd in this day and age, wouldn't you agree?

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By Anonymous
03rd May 2001 11:26

Recognised Accountant qualifications
Whilst Mr Neil Eglintine may have mentioned the more popular accounting qualifications such as those under the CCAB, I feel that the qualification awarded by the Association of International Accountant should be given due mentioned too.

The AIA qualification received recognition under the companies act 1989 on July 11, 1994 and is one of the RQB qualifications in the UK. It has also received recognition in a good number of countries such as the Hong Kong SAR, Cyprus, etc.

Thus, we should give due respect to the AIA qualification when one talksabout accountancy qualifications in the UK.

Being an RQB qualification, AIA graduates can practice as company auditors, having fulfilled the necessary requirements. I was also informed by AIA officials that independent assessment is done to ensure that the AIA qualification meets the required standards. In AIA's brochure, one would get to know that the AIA qualification is examined at accounting degree equivalent. Further information can be obtained from its website

Also, another UK qualification of high standard worth mentioning is the one awarded by the Institute of Company Accountants (formerly the Society of Company and Commercial Accountants). One can vet through its past years examination questions to conclude this point besides going though its syllabus.


WL Loh

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By neileg
03rd May 2001 12:30

Facts of Life
There are mainstream recognised qualifications and there are those that aspire to be such. There is movement between these categories, and the IFA, AIA and others may make the transition eventually.

It must be galling to those who have worked hard to pass exams of a high standard and then find their qualification is not highly regarded, but it's a fact of life.

It's not a million years ago that the Certified qualification was felt to be inferior to the Chartered, but I don't think anyone feels that these days.

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By neileg
01st May 2001 08:45

Sorry for the mistake over the designatory letters for Scottish CAs.

However, I would not regard members of the Institute of Tax as accountants - qualified certainly, and highly regarded, indubitably, but not accountants in normal parlance.

And I'm sorry, too, about the IFA. I don't regard members of this institute as 'qualified' in normal parlance. Your status is not regarded in the same vein as the CCAB bodies. Perhaps this is unfair and you should have this recognition, but you're not there yet.

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02nd May 2001 15:11

I am a novice in the mighty accountancy world myself that is why it confuses me that CIMA- qualification is not mentioned at all. Any comments with regards to this?

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By admin
30th Apr 2001 16:05

CA really
To be pedantic, Scottish Chartered Accountants are correctly "CA" not "ACA". Also, look out for ATII for Chartered Tax Adviser.

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By keeper
30th Apr 2001 18:27

Accountant Qualifications
None of the previous respondents mentioned The Institute of Financial Accountants.
Qualifications AFA or by further experience / examination FFA.

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By admin
30th Apr 2001 14:15

You also need the certificates
Simply passing the examination is not sufficient to allow you to use the letters. You have to apply for membership of the body. To do that, you need to show that you have the relevant experience. Moving from ACCA to FCCA does not require any further exams but you have had to be qualified and a member for some years before getting the F. As an ACCA you have a duty to maintain continuing professional education (CPE). Moving from MAAT to FMAAT requires time and proof that you have maintained your continuing professional development (CPD).

Most bodies also require that you have a practicing certificate or register as a self-employed member before you engage in public practice. You also need a further certificate to be allowed to sign audit reports.

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30th Apr 2001 10:21

Neil missed out the bit re Accounting Technicians, MAAT & FMAAT. This qualification is generally regarded as lower grade than chartered or certified. However, in general practice accountancy, a person's ability counts for more than the exams that he/she has passed. In our ten partner firm some of the partners are accounting technicians as are some of the managers, but some of the managers are certified or chartered accountants. In other words, the qualification means little if you have the ability. There is a strong tradition in general practice of regarding people as being qualified by experience. If they can do the job and earn the fees then they can get the promotion. There are people in top ten firms who have reached equity partner level without being "qualified" at all. You do however need to be exam qualified in order to sign an audit certificate.

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By neileg
30th Apr 2001 09:36

Qualified usually refers to someone with a CCAB recognised qualification, thus:
ACA - Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, or Scotland, or Ireland ( known as a chartered accountant)
ACCA - Associate of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (known as a certified accountant)
ACMA - Associate of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (known as a management accountant)
CIPFA - Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants

Change the A for an F and you get a fellow of these bodies. There is no difference between an associate and a fellow for practical purposes.

ACA is largely practice based, ACCA can be practice or industry, ACMA usually industry, CIPFA usually public sector.

Whatever any one might say, the qualifications are equally valuable, and an accountant with any of these will have transferrable skills applicable in other areas. For example, I am a chartered accountant but now work in local government.

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