From small kedai runcit businesses to giant conglomerates, millions of companies around the world require the services of an accountant.
And if you’re looking to be an accountant and be recognised at a professional level, an ACCA qualification might just be the course for you!
This comprehensive guide will help to answer all your questions about ACCA, such as:
- What is ACCA exactly?
- How can you obtain an ACCA qualification?
- What are the entry requirements to study ACCA?
- Are you only limited to being an accountant with an ACCA qualification?
- Is ACCA really that difficult?
… and more!
Read on to find out everything you need to know about pursuing an ACCA qualification.
#1. The Basics of ACCA
a) What is ACCA?
ACCA consists of a series of professional exams that you need to pass (13 papers in total). As part of the ACCA programme, you will gain technical knowledge in the field of accounting and finance, as well as other areas such as organisational management and strategy.
Upon completion of ACCA’s Ethics and Professional Skills module, their Strategic Professional exams plus 3 years of relevant working experience, you will be a Chartered Certified Accountant. This is a term only ACCA members can hold.
Most ACCA members work in accounting and finance fields, typically in the corporate sector. Having an ACCA qualification provides assurance to employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge in the accounting & finance field, which is why many students opt to pursue this qualification!
#2. Studying ACCA in Malaysia
a) Pathway to Obtaining an ACCA Professional Qualification
There are several ways to obtain an ACCA Professional Qualification.
Here is a brief summary of the various pathways you can take upon completing SPM.
The two most common pathways are as follows:
(1) Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) → ACCA [approx. 3 years total]
This is the fastest and shortest route to obtain an ACCA qualification.
Upon completing SPM or O-Level, you can immediately start to pursue your ACCA qualification via the CAT qualification. The Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) qualification is offered by ACCA and you can take this programme immediately after SPM.
Completing the CAT will give you exemptions for the ACCA Applied Knowledge module, skipping 3 exam papers (see next section on “ACCA Course & Exam Structure“), allowing you to proceed directly to the ACCA Applied Skills module.
(2) Foundation / Pre-University → Degree in Accounting → ACCA [approx. 5.5 years total]
Another popular pathway is to first obtain a Degree in Accounting prior to pursuing ACCA.
You start with a Foundation or Pre-University programme (e.g. A-Level, Australian Matriculation, STPM, etc.) and proceed with a Degree in Accounting. During this period, you will learn accounting principles and techniques, as well as broader topics outside of accounting, such as economics and investments. Upon completing your Degree, you can pursue your ACCA qualification. In fact, many accounting graduates work full-time while studying for ACCA part-time!
Depending on the institution and the subjects that you take, you may be granted exemptions of up to 9 papers for the ACCA Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills modules. This means you get to go directly to the ACCA Strategic Professional module (see next section on “ACCA Course & Exam Structure”).
This pathway to a professional accounting qualification is longer compared to Pathway #1 above. However, it is still a popular option for many students.
At the same time, you will also have the option to pursue a MSc in Professional Accountancy by University of London in addition to your ACCA qualification.
b) ACCA Course & Exam Structure
The ACCA exams are divided into 3 segments — Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills and Strategic Professional.
(1) ACCA Applied Knowledge (3 papers in total)
The Applied Knowledge exams are designed to give you a broad introduction to the world of finance and accounting.
The exams are:
- Accountant in Business (AB)
- Management Accounting (MA)
- Financial Accounting (FA)
(2) ACCA Applied Skills (6 papers in total)
Building on your knowledge and understanding of accounting and finance, the Applied Skills papers ensure that you develop strong and practical skills in order to be a strategic professional accountant, regardless of which industry you work in.
The exams are:
- Corporate and Business Law (LW)
- Performance Management (PM)
- Taxation (TX)
- Financial Reporting (FR)
- Audit and Assurance (AA)
- Financial Management (FM)
(3) ACCA Strategic Professional (4 papers in total)
ACCA Strategic Professional aims to prepare you for future leadership positions by developing your technical, ethical and professional skills. This is where you get to choose the area you would like to specialise in.
The Strategic Professional is divided into 2 sections — Essentials (2 papers) and Options (choose 2 exams from 4 options).
The exams are:
- Strategic Business Leader (SBL)
- Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
- Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
- Advanced Performance Management (APM)
- Advanced Taxation (ATX)
- Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)
Here is a list of all the ACCA exam papers.
|(1) ACCA Applied Knowledge|
|AB||Accountant in Business|
|(2) ACCA Applied Skills|
|LW||Corporate and Business Law|
|AA||Audit and Assurance|
|(3) ACCA Strategic Professional|
|SBL||Strategic Business Leader|
|SBR||Strategic Business Reporting|
|Options (choose 2)|
|AFM||Advanced Financial Management|
|APM||Advanced Performance Management|
|AAA||Advanced Audit and Assurance|
c) Entry Requirements and Qualifications
In order to register for ACCA without going through the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) course, you must meet the following pre-university entry requirements:
- A-Level: Minimum of 2Es and 3 credits in SPM, including English and Mathematics
- STPM: Minimum of 2Cs and 3 credits in SPM, including English and Mathematics
- Australian Matriculation: Minimum of ATAR 70 and 5 credits in SPM, including English and Mathematics
- UEC: Minimum of 5Bs including English and Mathematics
Do note that certain universities or institutions may have different entry requirements, so make sure you do your research before making a decision!
#3. Why Should You Study ACCA?
ACCA is one of the most widely recognised professional accounting qualifications in Malaysia as well as globally. Here are some top reasons why you should study ACCA.
(a) Recognised by thousands of employers worldwide
ACCA collaborates with over 8,500 approved employers globally, from multinational corporations and accounting bodies to educational institutions and governments. The ACCA programme also undergoes quality assurance by independent third parties. As such, you can be confident that your professional qualification is well recognised and has a proven reputation for quality.
(b) You get to be in charge of your studies and career
Want to study part-time while working? Or do you prefer to focus and get your professional qualification in the fastest way possible? ACCA has various flexible study options, which means you get to progress at your own pace, whether it’s part-time or full-time. This allows you to switch focus between work and studies, depending on your circumstances.
(c) ACCA opens the doors to many other industries
ACCA does not limit you to being a professional accountant or an auditor. In fact, many ACCA members go on to pursue employment in various fields, such as banking & finance, tax, consulting and business development. Although an ACCA qualification exposes you to many technical aspects and principles of accounting, its syllabus also cover other skills and competencies that are valuable in other industries outside auditing and accounting.
#4. What Skills Do You Need to Study ACCA?
Here are some of the key qualities and skills that you will need to develop to do well in ACCA.
(a) The drive and determination to learn and work hard
Yes, the rumours are true — ACCA is indeed a difficult course. Although ACCA is not a Degree, the ACCA Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills exams are roughly equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree in terms of complexity, while the ACCA Strategic Professional exams are equivalent to a Master’s Degree. The jump from Applied Skills to Strategic Professional can be quite drastic for some, so you must commit to studying and revising your material to be prepared for your exams.
(b) Attention to detail
This is an industry where every little detail matters. The smallest of error, inconsistency or discrepancy can lead to other inaccuracies, so you must have an eye for detail. As a professional accountant, you need to ensure that any financial information that you receive is accurately reflected in various reports without a single error.
(c) A high level of ethics and integrity
As a professional accountant and auditor, the nature of your work requires you to have high levels of ethics and integrity. Shareholders, investors and stakeholders rely heavily on financial statements to make key decisions in the company, so it is your responsibility to ensure that no dodgy accounting goes on. ACCA students are also required to pass a professional ethics module.
(d) Good communication skills
While it is true that you will be dealing with lots and lots of numbers, good communication skills (both written and verbal) are important too! As a future accounting professional, you need to have the ability to convey financial information in simple terms to clients and employers who may not understand all the accounting terms and jargon.
#5. What Career Options Do You Have with an ACCA Qualification?
Completing an ACCA qualification will allow you to pursue various job opportunities in the accounting and finance sectors.
- Business Analyst
- Budget Analyst
- Credit Analyst
- Internal Audit Associate
- Investment Banker
- Financial Accountant
- Fund Manager
- Management Accountant
- Research Analyst
- Tax Consultant
#6. Where Can You Study ACCA in Malaysia?
If ACCA is right up your alley, then check out some of the best colleges and universities for ACCA in Malaysia.
CAT & ACCA
Campus: Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
Intakes: Jan & Jul
Estimated Fees for CAT: RM16,784
Estimated Fees for ACCA: RM30,292
Generous scholarships, including 100% tuition fee waiver
Gold-status learning partner of ACCA
Dedicated CAT-ACCA club to help students build interpersonal skills