High School to Chartered Accountant (ACCA | CA(SA) | CIMA): Which Path?

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CharterQuest
, 04 March 2017

Subtitle

One of South Africa's best kept secrets in the quest to become a Chartered Accountant is the very limited awareness that there are indeed three Chartered Accountant Qualifications that are registered and recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). These include the 'Chartered Accountant South Africa', CA(SA) (of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, SAICA); the 'Chartered Certified Accountant', CCA (of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, ACCA) and the 'Chartered Global Management Accountant,' CGMA (of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, CIMA). 

The ACCA, CA (SA) and CIMA qualifications are all pitched at level 8 of the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF), so there is no dispute that all three broadly share the same level of complexity. For a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each of these qualifications, review our interview with Deon Fredericks on page 14 as well as our article titled 'Are You A Future CFO?' in our prior edition. 

THE CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT (ACCA | CA (SA) | CIMA): 3 PATHWAYS TO ATTAINMENT 

Depending on whether you study fulltime or part-time, the diagram below (and the subsequent analysis) broadly depicts and compares the path to each of these three coveted finance qualifications.

6 YEARS IS MINIMUM TIME FOR CA (SA) BUT IT CAN BE A LOT SHORTER FOR ACCA AND CIMA 

As depicted in the diagram, each qualification requires a combination of 3-4 years of formal education coupled with exams and 3 years of relevant work experience. The CIMA and ACCA pathways allow you to pursue your work experience anytime during the 6 years of studies whereas the CA (SA) pathway allows you to commence this only in year 4. The CA(SA) however, allows a path to commence with your work experience (formal articles) straight out of High School; except that pursuing this path means you will be required to do 5 years of work experience (instead of the 3 years had you commenced your articles in year 4; with your Bachelor Degree in hand). 

YOU NEED SPECIFIC HIGH SCHOOL GRADES FOR THE CA (SA) PATHWAY, BUT NOT SO MUCH SO WITH THE ACCA/CIMA PATHWAYS 

To continue reading this article, subscribe to the FREE February issue of The Future CFO Magazine. 

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  • Anonymous

    CA(SA) should be the first choice as it is the most competitive and highly regarded than the other two in the South African market. You will never go wrong especially for those who can pass CTA and do articles. For those who have families and cannot leave their jobs to do articles, then the choice is between CIMA and ACCA. CIMA has an advantage over ACCA for the management accounting field. ACCA is good for both but the fact that is has financial reporting, auditing and tax as its majors and directly competing with SAICA saw it being locked out by IRBA with is obviously staffed by CA(SA)'s to fend off that competition. Of late it is actually out of the the stiff side of competition. Most companies that employ ACCAs are international organisations that know how good they are. The unfair competition by SAICA protected by IRBA has created a captive market for CA(SA)s. One would think they are the best, but who compete against them? Maybe a legal challenge should be considered.

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CharterQuest