Becoming fully qualified

Studied accounting at bachelor but dropped out, what now?

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Hi there, really need some advice.

I've just turned 35, I studied for 1 year for an accounting degree in Oz, but due to family issues, I had to move back to UK. 

I'd like to become fully qualified but not sure which route to take.

As I will have advanced standing and recognition of prior learning, should I put that towards completing a bachelor's degree with University of London distance learning degree(finance and accounting), or should I go the ACCA, AAT route?

I am thinking long term and moving abroad again one day, so any advice would be really appreciated.

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By David Ex
22nd Oct 2023 22:25

TheWookieBookie wrote:

As I will have advanced standing and recognition of prior learning, should I put that towards completing a bachelor's degree with University of London distance learning degree(finance and accounting), …?

No idea what “advanced standing and recognition of prior learning” means but I definitely wouldn’t bother with the degree as it won’t add anything as a working accountant and will simply mean you’re another year or two (or three??) older before you start professional studies.

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By paulhammett
23rd Oct 2023 08:05

What work have you been doing since you left university?

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By paul.benny
23rd Oct 2023 10:08

In the UK, an accounting degree carries little weight - having a recognised qualification (plus relevant experience) is key. That's unlike, say USA, where CPAs overwhelmingly work in public practice.

You need to ask yourself what appetite for study you have - accounting qualifications require significant study commitment alongside doing a full time job. Does that fit with your domestic circumstances?

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
23rd Oct 2023 10:31

Whatever you do, dont just become "exam qualified" with ACCA. Its useless.

You need a blend of practical and exam based learning to be a decent accountant.

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By Postingcomments
23rd Oct 2023 11:36

I assume we are ok to rule out ambitions to join Big 4 and the like at your age?

If so, I'd get applying to firms. Learn on the job. Exams will likely be very optional at any small town firms - so up to you. Just don't expect to get paid much. Likely a long slow road.

Also, bear in mind that you can make more money as a self employed bookkeeper than as a small firm employed accountant. Could be something to consider if you are at a stage of life where you CBA with a load of exams and future obligations to pay membership fees etc.

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By TheWookieBookie
23rd Oct 2023 13:09

Thanks everyone, this is really interesting. Ive ruled out the big four, and I would like to start my own business with this qualification.
Since leaving uni, I have ran and sold my own business, but work in higher education on the admin/compliance side of things. Nevertheless, alot of what I do now is finance based.

The only reason I am considering a degree was migration to other countries; degrees seem to carry more points on the visa scales when moving aboard.

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Replying to TheWookieBookie:
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By Postingcomments
23rd Oct 2023 16:14

If you spend more time on here, you'll soon find out that an awful lot of people haven't bothered to get any accounting qualifications at all. They call themselves accountants and charge good money for knocking out accounts and tax returns. All completely legal.

Within a very short time at a firm, you'll have the hang of basic accounts (they are not hard at all) and could go it alone, picking up whatever accounting and/or bookkeeping you can. All with barely any regulation or oversight at all. Just HMRC AML reg and Data Protection registrations needed.

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John Toon
By John Toon
23rd Oct 2023 13:29

As others have said getting a degree isn't of any real value, particularly now. Anything you learn on a degree course would have to be un-learned in the real world anyway...

As for getting a professional qualification, yes absolutely you should, but if you have ambitions of moving abroad then you want to make sure whatever you do is transportable overseas. Some countries have direct compatibility/passporting with UK qualifications, others require additional exams. In the UK the accounting market is unregulated, but if you were to go back to Oz, for example, only qualified accountants matter. AAT won't get you far in this regard but ACCA/ACA qualifications would depending on what you planned to do in the future.

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Replying to johnt27:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
23rd Oct 2023 14:12

Anything? Surely just some?

There are things I leaned at university like law, business finance etc that I still use every so often, I even sometimes use some Maths or Stats I learned at university, though re these not very often.

I accept the debits and credits become better formed by doing and using, with them experience really does count, similar re accounts disclosures and layouts, never ending reading, but to say Anything you learn needs unlearned is just not correct in my experience.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Postingcomments
23rd Oct 2023 16:10

Yes, but I think it is important to weigh up the signifcant amount of time and cost a degree will take vs the potential benefits it might give at a small firm. OP's age must be a big factor here. They surely want/need to get cracking rather than read books on economic theory and the like for 3 years. Those books can perhaps be read later.

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Replying to Postingcomments:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
23rd Oct 2023 17:03

I did not even mention Economics or Economic History or even Taxation, all of these I also studied at university at some point, the taxation is still useful if dated, the economics less so.

Some of the business finance stuff is useful even if just as background to understand what the pros, the actuaries re pension schemes etc are saying - redemption yields, IRR, PV, NPV, suitability of funding, scrips, rights issues, loan stock, costs of capital, gearing, mergers, takeovers, company valuations, share valuations all got covered (very quickly in my case on a PG conversion course) and are useful skills to have, rarely all popping up in practice with SME clients but handy concepts to appreciate, and sometimes used if you stray from practice

Same with law, an academic year covering legal systems, contract, partnership, company law, delict (negligence), insurance law, agency law, sale of goods, unfair contract terms , insolvency etc all at one time or another have cropped up in my work over the next 38 years.

Debits/Credits, knocking out accounts and tax compliance is just a part of the job, yes in SME practice maybe the main part , but other skills acquired are useful.

(Just to point out back in 1985 you could not even train with ICAS unless you had a relevant accountancy degree or a PG conversion qualification from University, in my case the latter)

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Replying to DJKL:
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By David Ex
23rd Oct 2023 17:40

DJKL wrote:

(Just to point out back in 1985 you could not even train with ICAS unless you had a relevant accountancy degree or a PG conversion qualification from University, in my case the latter)

Interesting. ICAEW were happy with non-graduates. Worked with an extremely capable non-graduate ACA back in the day.

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Replying to David Ex:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
23rd Oct 2023 18:08

No, up here after my MA ,mainly in things no accountant would ever need to know (English Lit, History, Philosophy, Maths, Economics), I took the conversion course at that time offered by Heriot Watt, Strathclyde and Aberdeen (Aberdeen was the one I went to)

The one year PG Certificate in Accountancy Studies had a lot more contact hours than an undergraduate accountancy degree,.

There were about 20 of us on the course. We did the normal first year accounting degree subjects, full Business Law course (4 hours), full Economics 1 course (I did Stats as had 2 years of economics in my first degree) (four hours), and full Accountancy 1 course (4 hours) and in addition we also had an extra course called Accountancy Special which covered things like taxation, business finance and accounting thought/theory/ideas(Circa 10 hours) This latter was an excellent course run by Pauline Weetman, later to become a Professor of Accounting, always run like a seminar/tutorial , no lectures and a lot of interaction.

So if a non relevant graduate wanting to be a CA this is what you needed to do to get a training contract.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By David Ex
24th Oct 2023 16:37

DJKL wrote:

So if a non relevant graduate wanting to be a CA this is what you needed to do to get a training contract.

Interesting. In practice, I think most medium and large firms did only recruit graduates. Non-relevant graduates were chucked in to work with the relevant but had to do some sort of basic economics and law studies over their first 6 months. That was while working!!

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Postingcomments
23rd Oct 2023 18:44

I don't disagree with what you're saying. I was making the point that priorities and the type of work the OP is looking for are very relevant to the decision.

At 18 looking to go into Big 4. When the fees were £1k pa (when I went - you likely got paid to go!), I didn't know anything and a degree was virtually required to get in the interview room = it was a "no brainer" as they say. At £10k pa - I'd probably skip it.

At 35 looking to work for a smaller firm and with some experience of the world, I'd almost certainly prioritise practical experience and the exams, rather than a degree. The exams have law and finance modules.

That's the point I was making.

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By TheWookieBookie
23rd Oct 2023 21:17

Once again, thanks everyone.

As my practical experience is currently limited, can anyone suggest the best course for me to enrol? I'm interested in both cost more so than fiancial accounting, so Im thinking ACCA might be better?
Only thing is it seems I need to be working for an accounting firm. I do quite like higher ed, so Im trying to find a way to keep within the industry, but move more into the financial side of it.

Any advice would be sincerely appreciated.

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Replying to TheWookieBookie:
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By DJKL
24th Oct 2023 09:40

CIMA perhaps?

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Replying to DJKL:
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By TheWookieBookie
24th Oct 2023 21:07

DJKL wrote:

CIMA perhaps?

Yes, that would be more what Im interested, but one of my main limitations is that I dont work for an accounting practice. I want to move into the financial side of higher ed.

Do you know if CIMA requires me to work for an accountancy firm?

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Replying to TheWookieBookie:
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By Leywood
24th Oct 2023 21:11

CIMA is geared to management accounting/industry roles

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Replying to Leywood:
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By TheWookieBookie
24th Oct 2023 21:23

Leywood wrote:

CIMA is geared to management accounting/industry roles


I mean, looking at things, it seems AAT Level 4 may be best at this stage. I could probably sit it in six months, and from what I understand it may help towards further qualifcations in the future.
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