From small ‘mom and pop’ 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.
The Basics of ACCA
What It Is
ACCA stands for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. It is a body for professional accountants and is recognised globally, with 188,000 members and 480,000 students in 180 countries.
ACCA consists of a series of professional exams that you need to pass (14 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 professional exams and the Professional Ethics Module (PEM), along with 3 years of relevant working experience, you will be a Chartered Certified Accountant, which 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!
Studying ACCA in Malaysia
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 Knowledge module, skipping 3 exam papers (see next section on “ACCA Course & Exam Structure“), allowing you to proceed directly to the ACCA 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 about accounting principles and techniques, as well as broader topics outside of Accounting, such as Economics & 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, the Degree and the subjects that you take for your Accounting Degree, you may be granted exemptions of up to 9 papers from the ACCA Fundamentals Level. This means you get to skip up to a maximum of 9 fundamental papers and go directly to the ACCA Professional Level (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.
Starting in 2016, ACCA students will also have the option to pursue a Masters Degree qualification in Professional Accountancy after completing your ACCA Professional P1 – P3 papers. ACCA has partnered with the University of London to enable ACCA students to take both the ACCA professional qualification and a Masters Degree programme at the same time.
ACCA Course & Exam Structure
The ACCA exams are divided into two levels — Fundamentals and Professional.
(1) ACCA Fundamentals Level (9 papers in total)
ACCA Fundamentals is divided into two modules — Knowledge (3 papers) and Skills (6 papers). It covers main areas of financial and management accounting, as well as technical areas that accountants are expected to know.
(2) ACCA Professional Level (5 papers in total)
ACCA Professional is also divided into two modules — Essentials (3 papers) and Options (2 papers). As part of the Professional level, you will explore more advanced professional skills and techniques that are required by accountants working in either consultancy or advisory roles.
You will need to pass all 3 papers in the Essentials module. As for the Options module, you have the option to select 2 papers out of 4 optional papers.
Here is the list of all the ACCA papers in both Fundamentals and Professional level.
|(1) FUNDAMENTALS LEVEL|
|F1||Accountant in Business|
|F4||Corporate and Business Law|
|F8||Audit and Assurance|
|(2) PROFESSIONAL LEVEL|
|P1||Governance, Risk and Ethics|
|Options (choose 2)|
|P4||Advanced Financial Management|
|P5||Advanced Performance Management|
|P7||Advanced Audit and Assurance|
What Qualifications Do You Need?
In order to register for the ACCA Professional qualification, you must meet the following entry requirements:
- A-Level: Minimum of 2Es + 3 credits in SPM, including English & Maths
- STPM: Minimum of 2Cs + 3 credits in SPM, including English & Maths
- Australian Matriculation: Minimum of ATAR 70 + 5 credits in SPM, including English & Maths
- UEC: 5Bs including English & Maths
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.
(1) 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.
(2) 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.
(3) 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.
What Skills Do You Need to Study ACCA?
Here are some of the key qualities & skills that you will need to develop to do well in ACCA.
(1) 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 itself, the ACCA Fundamentals Level is roughly equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree in terms of complexity, and the ACCA Professionals Level is about the same as a Master’s Degree. The jump from Fundamentals to Professional can be quite drastic for some, so you must commit to studying and revising your material in order to be prepared for your exams.
(2) 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.
(3) 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.
(4) 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.
Career Options with an ACCA Qualification
Completing an ACCA qualification will allow you to pursue various job opportunities in the accounting and finance sectors.
- Business Analyst
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
- Credit Analyst
- Investment Banker
- Financial Accountant
- Financial Controller
- Fund Manager
- Forensic Accountant
- Research Analyst
- Tax Consultant
Where Can You Study ACCA in Malaysia?
Here are some of the most popular universities for ACCA in Malaysia.
CAT & ACCA
Campus: Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
Intakes: Jan & Jul
Estimated Fees for CAT: RM16,634
Estimated Fees for ACCA: RM24,150
Scholarships: Up to 100% tuition fee waiver
Generous scholarships, including 100% tuition fee waiver
Gold-status learning partner of ACCA
Dedicated CAT-ACCA club to help students build interpersonal skills
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HELP College of Arts and Technology
CAT & ACCA
Campus: Kuala Lumpur
Intakes: Jan & Jul
Estimated Fees for ACCA: RM31,800
Scholarships: Up to 100% tuition fee waiver
Strong support for employment opportunities upon graduation
HELP has successfully produced world top scholars for CAT & ACCA
Small class sizes to encourage active participation for effective learning