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I am currently deciding whether to embark on a course of study for ACCA or CIMA. I eventually would like to end up in Industry or commerce, but also want the flexibility of a global qualification.

Any advice anyone could offer would be gratefully appreciated.

Desree Lloyd-Smith


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09th Nov 2001 17:13

Thank you

I would just like to thank everyone for their responses.

I do agree with Simon though that some of the responses (or rather mud slinging - Jay Tanna to mention but a few) to fellow Accountants was a little unecessary.

I have in the final Analysis decided to do CIMA as I feel it would leave my options wider open, should I choose to leave the profession.

Once again thank you all for your contributions.

Best wishes


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31st Oct 2001 23:47

Simon you haven't heard of ICMA?


Are you seriously suggesting you haven't heard of ICMA? Perhaps it is time you write to the Secretary of your professional body to notify you of their all previous names! You need to educate or re-educate yourself. Your professional body failed to do its function properly in my opinion. Does this say anything about the body itself or does it tell us something about the membership of that body.

I understand CIMA stands for the Chartered Institute of Management Accountant(s) but their exam structure is very much business management biased. The accounting content seems to be virtually zilt. What sort of Management Accountants are we likely to get. Look at Railtrack where it is today. The chief Executive was also FCMA! Perhaps some accounting education would have taught him that there is no point in spending more than what you are earning!.

Hope this concludes contribution from my part on this topic. Lets move on to another question. How about IR35? IR35 attracts more than 2000 hits at a time!.

Jay Tanna

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31st Oct 2001 22:04

You should study with a body that most closely reflects your asp
You asked for some straightforward advice and you have received a variety of helpful and not so helpful responses. It is noticeable that most of those responses are from people who obviously wish to talk up their own qualification. Well, for the record, I am an FCMA and I do not remember the ICMA! Furthermore, if some of the respondents spent more time fighting for the profession and less time fighting fellow professionals we might all benefit!

My advice, for what it is worth, is that you should study with a body that most closely reflects your own aspirations. All of the accountancy bodies have strengths and weaknesses. Speaking for my own institute, the exams are tough and the pass rate is low but the standard of the qualification remains high. I am sure the high pass rate ascribed to ICAEW is linked more to support from employers than to the intelligence or otherwise of students so a supportive employer will help your case no end.

Whichever body you choose I wish you the very best of luck.


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30th Aug 2001 19:09

ACCA fan here
Hello everyone,

I have just graduated the ACCA exams in June 2001. I started studying for ACCA in October 1999, and with only 2 exempt papers I have managed to finish the whole syllabus in less than two years. I therefore do not agree with Jay Tanna's view that the ACCA qualification is so difficult to achieve. Oh, I almost forgot, I am a Romanian, so I did all this in Bucharest, Romania, with limited direct support from the ACCA, it is true, but with full support of my employer.

I believe that the ACCA is a more open institution that the other accountancy bodies. I doubt whether I could have become an ACA studying from here (although I may be wrong?). It is true that in the UK, ACA has a better reputation than ACCA, but this is not true in other countries. You can almost certainly find ACCA members or students in any country of the world, but perhaps this is not the case with ACA.

Although the ACCA's jurisdiction does not extend over some countries, which have their own accountancy bodies (such as Romania), the ACCA qualification is highly respected among employers (especially multinationals or Big 5).

Now let's talk a little bit about their new syllabus. It has now become more flexible, with the introduction of optional papers in Part 3, where students can choose 2 out of 4 papers. It covers quite a large number of topics, and I wouldn't say it neglects management accounting/business management, which seems to be the big advantage everyone thinks CIMA has. If you think of it, out of the 16 new papers, there are 8 (P1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.4, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5 and 3.7) which deal with management accounting, general management, IT and financial management.

I therefore believe that the ACCA qualification is a good start for any accountant. What everybody does after they become qualified, that's a whole different story, I agree.

Mircea Lazar
[email protected]

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30th Aug 2001 20:29

Correction of Mircea
Dear Mr Lazar,

First of all the formality; congratulations on your ACCA exam success.

I must correct you in what you have attributed to me in your piece.

I have never said ACCA exams (nor CIMA exams) are difficult to pass. I have just said that the pass rates of ACA seems to be higher than the pass rates of 2 fringe bodies put together.

Secondly, ACCA may be widely known in your country but the fact of the matter is ICAEW is the largest accounting body in the UK (if not in the world). Explain to me why is it that despite ACCA being examined in China in chinese language (cantonese; mandarin) there doesn't seem to be a huge leap in membership? Is ACCA trying to rip its own students? to me it is easy to fail students time after time and still retain their support! Easy money isn't it?

Peraps you could explain to me why is it that you managed to pass the ACCA exams within say 18 months yet your fellow students take nearly 24 to 30 months? Are you the brightest kid of all or is it because you were fortunate enough to get your employers support and more study leave?

Hope you will care to explain the disparity in pass rates between the professional bodies. To me all students have equal chance of passing ANY exams given the right opportunities.

Jay Tanna

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30th Aug 2001 23:17

First of all, I woud really like it if you (and anyone else around here) called me Mircea. Mr Lazar sounds too much like my father :-)

Second, I do agree that anyone should be able to get a qualification given the right conditions and the determination to study. My previous post did not imply that I got more study leave or even that I am a very 'studying' person as compared to my colleagues. I am sure that one of the reasons why I passed at least some of my exams was sheer luck! (Honest!)

I was not aware of the fact that ACCA exams existed in Chinese. The ACCA have certainly not done anything to make it easier for us Romanians: we had to pass the UK taxation papers (although you can imagine how useful they are here). I was lucky enough to get an exemption from the law paper (I live in a country with a Civil Code based on Napoleon's Code, so the English law paper would have been difficult for me). In comparison, our neighbours the Hungarians do get examined in Hungarian tax for ACCA (but still in English, not in Hungarian, or Cantonese, for that matter :-).

I believe the low pass rates for ACCA are partly due to the fact that for most ACCA students, English is not their mother tongue. Take a look, for instance, at the Malaysian variant tax papers. The pass rates are always much below the average for ACCA, and the examiner always points out in his published comments that students should improve their level of English.

On the other hand, I used to attend block release courses at BPP (no publicity intended), and I believe that the pass rates for students studying with BPP in Romania are quite similar to the ones you cited for ICAEW.

Mircea Lazar
[email protected]

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26th Aug 2001 18:38

Pass rates do not tell the whole story
The pass rates are not down solely to syllabus. It is something to do with the type of student and study support they get.

ACA students, typically, are recent graduates. They are in the studying mode. They are given block release in their training contracts and their job depends on their passing.

ACCA does not have a typical student. Students may be returning to studying, they may be graduates starting on a career or anywhere in betwen. The study support may or may not be there and they may study by correspondence, evening class or full time at college.

I am not saying one qualification route is better than the other, simply that it is different and I have not even taken into account the numbers of ACCA students studying abroad.

I do not know enough about CIMA to make any comment on the type of student or the syllabus. The last time I was involved with CIMA it was called ICMA.

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26th Aug 2001 23:14

Jim this exactly what I wanted to hear
Jim, thanks for the comment. This is exactly what I wanted somebody to say about ACCA and CIMA. You don't get support. You don't get support from employers. You also don't get support from the body itself.

For example, I just tried to go the the CIMA's website and guess what? You can't download anything unless you are either their member or a registered student.

How can they expect potential students to get a feeling of their exam structure? Surely, these professional bodies ought to know better?

In my opinion, the professional bodies' only chance to attract serious students is to let these students have access to their past exam papers with their suggested solutions. the students can then use their common sence to decide whether the exams are for them or not.

Did you know that the GCSEs and the advanced levels exams (CSEs ?) are lowering their pass rates to attract public support including to temp schools to opt for their exams to help the school's league position. I think this is what will happen to professional bodies.


Jay Tanna

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24th Aug 2001 23:33

Glamorama accounts chick

Dear Mr/Ms Chick,

I am glad I have succeeded in getting my point. I know very little about CIMA/ICMA. that is the very reason I am advocating ACA/ACCA.

Incidentally, I am glad you are ACMA but had you been FCMA then you would have known that CIMA was at one time known as ICMA - Institute of Cost and Management Accountants. Their syllabus in those days was more accounting/cost acoounting/Management Accounting orientated. These days I am told the syllabus is very much business management focussed. PErhaps you could clarify on this and perhaps use this opportunity to promote your professional body.

Liverpool 3 Bayern Munich 2

Have a nice holiday.

Jay Tanna

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25th Aug 2001 09:51

Peace and harmony?
Somebody asked a question affecting their entire future. They have had some advice, conflicting naturally. Jay gives a summary of the ICAEW exam structure. That seems to be to be constructive. He is then chastised either because he used the old acronym or typed them in wrong. A gentle pointing out would have achieved the same result without giving an opportunity to have a completely unneccessary and nasty dig at Jay. I would also like to know what company the repondent thinks that Jay is promoting.

Incidentally, I notice that no one has mentioned ICAS. I know absolutely nothing about their syllabus but, having worked in firms with Scottish offices, I have worked with CAs. I could set out the details of the old ACCA syllabus but it is changing to a new one, details available from the web site.

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25th Aug 2001 09:55

Comment for Glamourama
If you do want to have a dig at a fellow contributor have the good grace to use your real name. It's not pleasant when people use pseudonyms to hide behind for insults and also creates problems for those who need (or want) to use a nickname for other contributions.

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25th Aug 2001 09:56

Just testing Glamourama
That last comment from anonymous person was from me. I don't hide but just wanted you to experience an anonymous tirade.

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25th Aug 2001 23:34

Congratulations to Richard Crossley

I must congratulate Richard for his determination to succeed despite all the odds stacked against him. It is very difficult to get into accountancy especially if you are 30+ and in UK.

In chossing the courses, my advice to potential students is to look at the pass rates. For CIMA (Mr Chick I got it right this time) the pass rate is as low as 38%. For ICAS it is 70%. For ICAEW it is 78.5%. the full report is here:

Why would anyone study for CIMA when you can do ACA with increased pass rate.

This is the only way to put pressure on examining bodies to be open and provide better facilities for students. To start with, they could put their exam papers and suggested answers online so that students can see what is expected of them. This is not asking them for favours. It is students' right to access to study material.

I hope professional bodies will respond to this as a matter of urgency.

Best regards,

Jay Tanna

Best regards,

Jay Tanna

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24th Aug 2001 16:22

Mr Tanna strikes again!!!

Mr Tanna for someone who claims to know so much maybe you should try getting your facts right. Namely the correct acronym for CIMA.

Second I would suggest you get a life and stop trying to promote your company on this website.

By the way I am a qualified ACMA.

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23rd Aug 2001 21:37

I agree with Mr Tax

Instead of studying for ACCA or ICMA just do ACA for the very reason that they have fewer exams than the other two fringe bodies! the exam structure for ACA is:

Audit & Assurance
Business Finance
Business Management
Financial Reporting

Plus two devolved papers:
Commercial Law
Company Law

Also, ACA have their own study packs which contain all the material necessary for exams. No other test books are required. The packs can only be bought from the Institute but your firm will pay for these!

The other bodies are proud to have at least 14 papers in total. Why bother with non-sensical papers!

Please note if you are over 28 then ACA may not be an option because no firm would touch you. You may not like it but their is ageism in accountancy. you are expected to be a partner or a FD by the time you are 35! If you don't achieve this then forget it. Take up football perhaps because you will have better chance to be a footballer then an accountant. Brittain needs good sports man and women. did you know we only won 2 medals at the last world championship held in canada of which one was gold and other bronze. Kenya got more medals than UK! This says it all about our country.

Hope this helps.

Jay Tanna

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22nd Aug 2001 18:34

Both are good qualifications and are recognised in the UK whether the company is or is not a global company. As well as looking for the future, you should look where you are now. It is more difficult to study for a qualification where you cannot put into practice the things that you learn as you go along. There is more tax in the ACCA qualification than the CIMA one but more industry based management accounting issues in CIMA than ACCA. I iknow that I have made a very bald statement of the distinctions and I also know that they will surely be attacked by someone.

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22nd Aug 2001 19:22

I prefer ACCA.
I qualified with ACCA December 2000 sitting, i am living in Jamaica, working in commerce i can tell you that ACCA gives you what is really required for the day to day job.

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23rd Aug 2001 10:08

World is your Oyster with either Qualification
Regardless of what qualification you select to study for your abmitions of working in a global economy in Industry or Commerce can be achieved.

Of course both quals. have different focuses and in the end you should study the syllabus of each and see what appeals to you as an individual and stop worrying about the limitations.

Just focus on getting qualified and then the world awaits !!!!!!!!!

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23rd Aug 2001 14:41

Why not do ACA instead?

If you are looking for a qualification that will truly gain you kudos and respect the world over why not do ACA instead.

This is a truly marketable qualification which doubles up quite nicely as a global qualification.

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22nd Aug 2001 15:53

Consider both and evaluate according to what you want to do
I qualified with the ACCA and I work in commerce for a global company.

The ACCA teaches both management accounting techniques and Auditing together with the legal requirements of financial statements. When you get to the final level, the syllabus also covers international accounting issues in some depth.

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22nd Aug 2001 13:39

The most international of the professional bodies, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the largest global accountancy body with over 250,000 members and students in more than 140 countries.
The Association concentrating on developing its "world trade", and is seen as trying to meet the demand from students for flexible accountancy qualifications. It’s new syllabus places greater emphasis on corporate strategy, the design and management of business systems, risk assessment and strategic financial analysis, while still retaining the core technical knowledge invaluable to the practising professionals.

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