In an increasingly global financial market, accountancy is far from being an industry of tax men and bookkeepers. It is now an arena for highly specialised financial experts.
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A fine example of this is roughly 83% of FTSE 100 companies today are believed to have ACA qualified people on their boards - and they don't have to be (CFOs). Whichever route has been taken, you will need one qualification in order to pursue a successful career. For employers, it is good to know who may be the perfect fit.
Each qualification has its strengths and weaknesses but are important to both finance contract jobs and permanent opportunities.
CIMA will involve passing 14 exams, although some of these may be exempt depending on the degree(s) taken. CIMA covers more management accounting, business strategy and financial strategy than the ACCA syllabus. CIMA qualified accountants tend to lean towards forward thinking and strategy based roles. CIMA jobs are best suited for Business and Industry.
In comparison with CIMA, ACCA is more focused on financial accounting and technical practices of accountancy. There are also 14 exams required, although like CIMA, some of these depend on the degree(s) taken. It is generally thought that ACCA gives you a stronger grounding in accounting principles than CIMA, but at the cost of management reporting and corporate strategy. Suited for practice, audit or tax.
If you are looking to work in the "Big Four", the ACA is where you need to focus. There are 15 exams and 450 days of relevant work experience required. In order to study ACA, your employer has to be an approved institute for training. ACA qualified people are in high demand due to it generally being seen as the premier qualification to hold and ACA jobs pay well.