One reader of PQ accountancy magazine, a publication for part-qualified accountants, has written about how much work goes into completing the ACCA – The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants – and how it affected her social life; leaving her ‘qualified – and single’. We look at how much work goes into qualifying for ACCA membership.
The unnamed female writes about her experience of working towards membership for The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and how ‘six years of study for eight months of the year’ ruined her marriage, which unfortunately resulted in divorce and left her a single female ‘enjoying a study free life’ with just a ‘cheap black ACCA pen and ACCA lapel pin’ to show for her ‘hard work and dedication’; in addition to ‘proudly’ using ‘the ACCA letters’ after her name.
Frustrated at the increased prices year on year to pay annual and exam fees, costing her ‘a small fortune over the years’, the unnamed reader writes how she was amused after becoming a member that she was asked for yet another membership administration fee of £197 on-top of the £77 she had paid in January for her student subscription.
‘Disappointed’ that finalists are no longer congratulated for their success with ‘certificate and award ceremonies’ she writes: “It would have been a good way to celebrate in a fitting way, so thanks to ACCA for the pen and pin but I had expected a bit more for my hard work and dedication.”
So, how much work does one have to do to qualify for ACCA membership and at what cost?
On the ACCA website they state that in order to qualify as an ACCA member you must complete:
- ‘a minimum of five of 14 exams (nine are eligible for exemption)’
- ‘the practical experience requirement’
- ‘the professional Ethics module’
And that on working towards ACCA membership the qualifications that can be gained include:
- ‘a Diploma in Accounting and Business’
- ‘an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Business’, and
- ‘a BSc (Hons) degree in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University’
The initial registration for an ACCA qualification student is £77 followed by a yearly subscription fee of £77. Although, if not paid by the 1 January deadline each year then another re-registration fee of £77 will be required to get a student’s name back on the ACCA register.
Once a student has completed all of the above requirements and received their final exam results then by the following 1 January an annual membership subscription fee of £197 must be paid which is ‘totally separate from subscription fee’.
The ACCA website promises the following benefits of ACCA membership:
- ‘improved career progression opportunities’ and ‘high earning potential’;
- ‘world class reputation’ which allows for ‘internationally mobility’ in a career;
- Provides ‘complete flexibility’ in ones career;
- ACCA’s ‘100 years of experience’ means ‘strong relationships’ with professional institutes and governments have been built ‘across the world’;
- A ‘leading range of services’ is provided to members, and
- ACCA ‘are leading the way in driving global standards’.
To reach ACCA membership one is required to complete ‘a minimum of five of 14 exams’, which are split into the following modules:
‘Fundamental’ level exams are covered by the Knowledge and Skills modules and ‘Professional’ level exams are covered by Essentials and Options modules; a maximum of four papers can be attempted per examination cycle, with two cycles being held per year.
The cost of an exam depends on whether the exam entry period is classed as ‘early’, ‘standard’ or ‘late’:
- Knowledge exams will cost £60, £69 or £200;
- Skills exams will cost £75, £86 or £217, and
- Professional and Options exams will cost £88, £101 or £231
So, it is wisely advised to apply for early exam entry in order to lower costs for exams and save a potential £100 – £150 per sitting.
Practical Experience Requirement
In order to gain ACCA membership students must also complete a practical experience requirement either during, before or after taking exams.
To begin achieving an ACCA Practical Experience Requirement (PER) an ACCA student must be working in a finance or account related role before:
- Finding a workplace mentor to support their development in the workplace to review their progress and achievements at work.
- Completing three years in an accounting or finance role: ‘your experience doesn’t have to be gained in a single role or one continuous period and relevant experience gained before you joined ACCA may be counted’, ACCA advise.
- 13 performance objectives must be achieved; categories include ‘Professionalism, ethics and governance’; ‘Personal effectiveness’; Business management’; ‘Financial Accounting and performance’; ‘Performance measurement and management accounting’; ‘Finance and financial management’; ‘Audit and assurance’, and ‘Taxation’.
- All progress must be recorded on ACCA’s MY Experience record online tool to ‘plan and record achievement of the Practical Experience Requirements’.
Professional Ethics Module
Branded by ACCA as the ‘heart of the ACCA Qualification’, the ProfessionalEthics Module is covered in 11 of the 16 exam papers and is recommended to be taken ‘at the same time as, or before, the Governance Risk and Ethics paper’. The ethics module is flexible and can be completed in a student’s ‘own time’.
The Professional Ethics Module requires ACCA students to reflect on ethical behaviour and values in a series of several self tests, followed by a case study example comparing two points of views in an audit situation; point of view from both the corporate financial accountant and auditor perspective.
Once a student has completed all of their exams, performance and experience objectives, plus the ethics module, then ACCA will contact them to transfer their membership as a fully trained ACCA professional accountant.
So, could studying for ACCA membership leave you ‘single and qualified’?
ACCA students are expected on average to qualify for ACCA membership in three to four years, but are given ten years from registration in which to complete their exams. It is also estimated that the cost of working towards an ACCA membership could cost anywhere from £6,000 upwards.
Depending on study options chosen, juggling ACCA study with a full-time job could lead to strains on a student’s private life and personal relationships; and in the case of the PQ Accountant magazine reader, possible divorce!
On Yahoo’s question and answer site – Yahoo Answers – an anonymous member of the public also said that her partner had pointed his finger at her studying for an accountancy qualification as the reason for their seven year relationship hitting the rocks: “his excuse last night to get stuck on me was how my part time accountancy course was ruining our relationship and was a total waste of time”, she wrote.
In March 2010 the figures for total ACCA members, students and affiliates in the Europe and Americas region totaled 239,974 people, an increase of 3.9% from figures in 2008. With members in 170 countries the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is recognized as the ‘leading global professional accountancy body by employers around the world’, according to the ACCA global website.
Two years ago in June 2010 it was announced that ACCA had, for the first time ever, surpassed global membership figures held by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). The Professional Oversight Board’s 2010 survey of accountancy found that ACCA global membership reached 137, 233 in 2009, overtaking ICAEW’s 2009 global membership total of 134,698.
With a rise in both European and global membership, student and affiliate figures, the ACCA can be seen as a popular choice for those wanting to pursue a career in professional accountancy, even in a time of global economic decline.
However; fitting in extra study requirements around prior work life commitments is bound to add pressure to a student’s social life and personal relationships. It is how a student chooses to manage their workload and organise their priorities that will have a direct affect on how they perform in examinations and interact with friends and family. The trick seems to be finding a happy medium between the two.
Kevin Kinsella Jnr, of KinsellaTax, said:
“It is extremely hard work to qualify. There are two members of staff attending weekly courses to qualify; although we do give them time off and pay the fees it does mean a lot of their time is taken up by studying. I have been disappointed by the ACCA exams. I think the association needs to be more attentive to their students because the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales are looking for students who are prepared to do their exams.”
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