ACCA vs CA: Which Course Should You Take in Singapore 2024?

In the competitive world of finance and accountancy, where the top two accounting certificates in Singapore reign supreme (according to eFinancialCareers), choosing between the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Chartered Accountant (CA) qualifications can be a pivotal decision. Both ACCA and CA offer distinct pathways to professional success, each with its unique benefits and considerations. Whether you’re eyeing global opportunities with ACCA or aiming for local prestige with CA, understanding the key differences is essential. Let’s delve into the comparison between ACCA and CA to help you make an informed choice tailored to your career aspirations and goals.

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acca or ca, compare the benefits and differences now

What is ACCA?

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) stands as a globally recognised accountancy qualification, offering comprehensive knowledge and skills in finance, accounting, and business management. Embraced by professionals worldwide, ACCA equips individuals with the expertise to thrive in diverse sectors and geographical locations.

Benefits of Pursuing ACCA

  1. Global Recognition: ACCA is recognised in over 180 countries with more than 241,000 members worldwide, providing access to diverse international career opportunities.
  2. Versatile Skill Set: The ACCA curriculum covers financial accounting, taxation, management accounting, audit, and business ethics, equipping individuals for various roles in finance and accounting.
  3. Career Advancement: ACCA members earn an average of 36% more than non-certified peers, enabling easier access to senior roles and higher pay. (MyLogic Business Management School, 2024)
  4. Flexibility: Candidates can complete the 13 papers of ACCA within three to ten years, accommodating professional and personal commitments, and it is accessible even to individuals without a background in finance or accounting.
  5. High Demand: ACCA professionals are highly sought-after globally, ranked among the top 10 most employable qualifications worldwide. Find out more information about ACCA demand in Singapore here.
  6. Networking Opportunities: ACCA provides access to a vast network of professionals, employers, and industry experts, facilitating collaboration and career growth.

What is CA?

The Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification holds significant prestige and relevance, particularly within the local context of Singapore. Offered by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), CA accreditation signifies a deep understanding of Singaporean accountancy standards and regulations.

Benefits of Pursuing CA

  1. National Recognition and Local Expertise: CA Singapore is supported by the Singapore Ministry of Finance. It is designed to equip graduates with specialised knowledge in Singaporean accounting standards, making them well-prepared for the local job market.
  2. Prestigious Positions: Within five years of qualification, CA Singapore graduates often secure senior management roles, demonstrating the qualification’s esteemed standing in the Singaporean financial landscape.
  3. Regulatory Compliance: Businesses benefit from higher levels of regulatory compliance and governance with CA Singapore professionals on their teams, enhancing operational integrity and risk management.
  4. Specialised Knowledge: Organisations with CA Singapore professionals report fewer instances of financial irregularities, attributed to the deep understanding of Singaporean accounting principles imparted by the qualification.
  5. Global Recognition and Asian Perspective: CA Singapore offers international recognition and an Asian perspective on accounting and finance, aligning graduates with the evolving demands of the global financial landscape.

ACCA vs CA: What are the Key Differences?

ACCASingapore CA
Field of Work:Most ACCA professionals are employed as taxation and accounting inspectors in public or private entities.Professionals with a CA Singapore qualification predominantly operate within their own firms or serve as finance consultants in public or private enterprises.
Career ScopeAs an international organisation, ACCA equips its members to work across the globe, covering taxation and accounting systems of major countries. While CA Singapore professionals have the option to work abroad, their qualification primarily focuses on establishing their practice within Singapore.
Qualification TenureACCA provides candidates with a generous time frame to complete all levels of certification, spanning from three to ten years. This flexibility allows candidates to prioritise their commitments and progress at their own pace.The acquisition of CA Singapore certification doesn't adhere to a specific time frame. The duration varies based on the candidate's academic background and the number of modules attempted.
Curriculum StructureThe ACCA qualification comprises 13 papers covering a range of topics including financial accounting, taxation, management accounting, audit, and business ethics. The ACCA Foundation in Accountancy serves as an introductory qualification, offering fundamental knowledge in accounting and finance. It serves as a pathway to the globally recognized ACCA qualification, which includes the Fundamentals and Professional levels, equipping individuals for various roles in the global accounting and finance sector.The Singapore CA qualification comprises the Foundation Programme and the Professional Programme. The Foundation Programme focuses on building fundamental accounting knowledge, while the Professional Programme delves deeper into advanced accounting principles and practices specific to Singapore's regulatory framework. Candidates also have to acquire at least two years of practical experience.
Exams ACCA exams are typically conducted four times a year, some papers are also available on-demand throughout the year. The ACCA exams are conducted using computer-based technology, commonly referred to as Computer-Based Exams (CBEs). These exams take place at authorised centres worldwide on fixed dates.Examinations for Singapore CA are administered on the e-exam platform, Cirrus. Candidates take exams remotely using their own laptops with internet connectivity. There is no change to the format of the exam, and candidates are monitored via their computer's webcam using Artificial Intelligence.
DurationCandidates can complete the ACCA qualification within three to ten years, offering flexibility to balance professional and personal commitments.There is no maximum candidature period for the Foundation Programme. For the Professional Programme, candidates are given 8 years upon the start of their Programme candidature to complete the Professional Programme.
Course Eligibility Foundation in Accountancy : No formal education required.

ACCA Qualification: Candidates must be 18 years old and above. They must have: Two GCE 'A' Levels and three GCE 'O' Levels or equivalent; OR a polytechnic diploma, OR Recognised University degree, OR completed a preparatory course for ACCA
Foundation Programme: Accredited degrees, recognised diplomas, undergraduates, and polytechnic diploma holders are eligible.

Professional Programme: Applicants need to have a Direct Entry Degree, OR Accredited Degree or recognised degree and completion of the Singapore CA Qualification (Foundation) programme, OR is a final year undergraduate.

ACCA vs CA: Which Course Should You Take in Singapore?

There are few factors that you should think through before deciding which course is more suitable for you. Take note of the following:

  1. Career Versatility and Global Aspirations: ACCA offers a skill set that transcends industries worldwide, making it suitable for global career aspirations. In contrast, Singapore CA specializes in preparing individuals for roles within Singapore’s financial ecosystem. If you aim for diverse opportunities internationally, ACCA’s broad recognition and global network may be more suitable. Nevertheless, both ACCA and CA are valued qualifications in Singapore, catering to the preferences of many employers.

  2. Educational Background and Entry Requirements:

    ACCA offers flexibility in entry requirements, accommodating candidates from diverse educational backgrounds. Conversely, Singapore CA may require specific qualifications or completion of the Foundation Programme for entry into the Professional Programme. If you are a beginner or looking to switch careers to Accounting to Finance,  ACCA’s Foundation in Accountancy will be a better choice for you.

  3. Examination Preferences:

    If you prefer flexible exam scheduling and a choice between on-demand and seasonal exams, ACCA’s exam structure might suit your preferences. However, if you are comfortable with digital exams and remote invigilation, Singapore CA’s e-exam platform provides convenience and accessibility.

  4. Networking and Support:

    Both ACCA and Singapore CA provide access to extensive professional networks and resources. ACCA’s global network connects professionals worldwide, while Singapore CA offers local connections and support tailored to Singapore’s financial landscape.

Ultimately, you should assess your career objectives, geographical preferences, and alignment with industry requirements to make an informed decision between ACCA and Singapore CA qualifications. Evaluating these factors comprehensively ensures selecting the pathway that best facilitates professional growth and success in the dynamic field of accounting and finance.

To begin your journey in ACCA, consider signing up with Spring Training, who is one of the only five GOLD ACCA Approved Learning Partners in Singapore.

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Author: Verlin You

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