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Finding professional qualification for country

I'm unsure about what the best professional qualification would be in Germany, Netherlands...

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I need some help choosing the best professional accounting qualification for me. I did a B.Sc. in Accounting in America (with excellent grades) and currently work a bookkeeping job (Accounts payable, accounts receivable) at a Japanese company in Germany (I am a German national). It took me a lot of applications (at least 300) to get this job so I'm very glad to have it. However, I know that this job won't satisfy me in the long term, so I am thinking about starting an accounting qualification (AAT, ACCA, US-CPA, or maybe CIMA or CGMA). I have exemptions from 4 ACCA papers and I am eligible to do the CPA, too. During my degree we did a lot of financial accounting (creating balance sheets, income statement...), and I really enjoyed doing this. We didn't do much management accounting, other than financial statement analysis (calculating ratios like return on equity...).

Being from Germany it would be best if in the long run I could find a better job here. However, it seems that German employers think that German qualifications/university degrees are always better than foreign qualifications like for example ACCA. Additionally it is difficult to get more accounting knowledge. For example if you want a chance to work in public accounting (tax, audit) you have to specialize in audit and tax during your degree, and what you learn will be mostly German tax and audit rules. And if you want to work in management accounting, you have to specialize in "controlling" during your studies.

I've done a lot of research on the internet about the value of the above mentioned professional accounting qualifications (AAT, ACCA, CPA, CIMA) in specific countries (Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Canada). About the AAT and ACCA I have read that they are "international qualifications". However, I don't know if that is really true. For example, AAT has a module that deals "Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs". To me this is knowledge specific for the UK. Also in ACCA there are Law, Tax, and Audit papers, and it seems the standard is that UK law, tax and audit is taught. Is there a big demand in Germany for people who know UK law, tax, and audit? I think you can choose to study an international law paper other than the UK law paper, but then what kind of international law is that? There are so many countries, each with their own law system.

I wouldn't have a problem with moving to another country than Germany. However, these countries have their own accounting qualification, too. For example, Ireland has their Chartered Accountants Ireland and maybe Irish GAAP. Dutch job advertisements sometimes mention that they want someone with knowledge of Dutch GAAP (which probably isn't taught in ACCA, CPA, or CIMA). The British administration has made it difficult for Europeans to work there due to the salary thresholds, point requirements and employer sponsored visa.

I know almost nothing about the value of the CPA in Germany, Netherlands or any other European country. Would American companies like McDonald's or Burger King be eager to employ me?

So basically I would like to know: are those international professional accounting qualifications useful in all these different countries even though they don't teach local gaap? What qualification would be best for me?

Replies (5)

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By David Ex
27th Dec 2021 15:15

mrbluesky wrote:

Would American companies like McDonald's or Burger King be eager to employ me?

Well those burgers won’t flip themselves, will they?

Get a qualification from the country where you propose to work immediately post-qualification.

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Replying to David Ex:
By mrbluesky
29th Dec 2021 19:22

I mentioned McDonald's and Burger King just as examples for US companies in Germany/Europe/Outside the US. I could have also said Ford. I just wanted to know if having the US-CPA qualification (and therefore having very good knowledge of US-GAAP would be beneficial for getting an accounting job with them in Germany/Europe/Outside the US. Or do those American corporations use local GAAP (e.g. UK GAAP or German GAAP) in the countries that they operate in?

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By paul.benny
27th Dec 2021 16:00

One of the challenges that you have is that the accounting profession is structured differently in different countries. There can be a difficult-to-cross divide between public practice and commerce.

The UK model of senior finance personnel having a professional qualification is relatively uncommon. In most other countries my finance colleagues have had an accounting degree or similar. Those with professional qualifications largely remain in public practice. Tax professionals are as likely to be lawyers by background rather than accountants.

On paper, you're already odd, by having a US degree and seeking work in Germany. I don't think that German employers disdain foreign degrees. They just don't understand them. As time goes on and you have more experience, it's easier to assess you by looking at what you've done rather than just your degree.

I suggest you turn your question around: Instead of asking about the qualification, ask yourself about your desired career path (role, scale of company, country) and then work out what you need to enable you to follow that path.

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Replying to paul.benny:
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
29th Dec 2021 15:18

I would second Paul's comments, though it did strike me as ironic for an accountant working in Germany to seek advice on qualifications from a community of UK accountants... Some of that territory is going to become trickier for British accountants in the years to come, so you're already ahead of the game for most of us here.

Since you mentioned working within larger corporations, I would definitely review the possibilities of the CIMA-CGMA route. CIMA, too, is a global organisation with the advantage of an alliance with the AICPA, which would stand you in good stead with US-owned multinationals. I've met management accountants with CGMA credentials on both sides of the Atlantic so I think the designation has achieved an enviable degree of cross-border recognition.

Good luck for the rest of your career and do stay in touch - the international perspective is always welcome on AccountingWEB.

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30th Dec 2021 13:49

CIMA is the most international qualification but does not allow you to be an auditor in the UK. CIMA first two level of exams are practically identical to ACA and ACCA. on level 3 ACCA and ACA focus on tax and accounting while CIMA on management accounting. CIMA is the best qualification to work in industry.

note that in Europe you can convert any national qualification in one from another country usually only with 2-3 oral exams on local tax matters.

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