In today’s current climate, being a qualified accountant has never been more important. After the credit crunch and ensuing financial crisis in 2008 the emphasis on comprehensively audited accounts and accurate financial information to stakeholders has been under an infinitely higher level of scrutiny. This in turn has led to new and ever changing IFRS® (International Financial Reporting Standards) landscape to keep up with the new demands of central banks and financial regulators. Now entering the 4th Industrial Revolution with fields such as AI (Artificial intelligence), robotics, Internet of Things and quantum computing. Having a high level of accounting knowledge, ability to understand the moving parts in finance and good ERP (Enterprise resource planning) systems experience will set the future accounts up in this digital revolution.
In 2013 I passed my last ACCA exam which to date are the toughest exams I have ever completed. Luckily, I gained 8 exemptions from my degree but still had to complete 6 ACCA exams, 5 of which were at the professional level and they really test your knowledge and understanding on the full breadth of the syllabus. With long nights in college, weekends revising and holding down a full-time professional job the sense of satisfaction to finally complete these exams and gain membership to the ACCA is still the proudest moment in my professional career.
With that in mind, I would highly recommend anyone doing their exams to make the effort and sacrifice needed to qualify. For those who are looking at starting their exams or questioning whether they should persist after a couple of failed exams, I have put together a list of reasons why you should complete the ACCA exams.
The following are 10 reasons why you should complete the ACCA exams:
1. Global Reach
With over 200,000 ACCA members worldwide. This is a globally recognised body within 179 countries, opening the door to international work and travel with the ACCA qualification.
2. Extensive Syllabus
The ACCA syllabus is extensive, with the breadth of topics covering everything needed to be an accountant. After completion of the exams ACCA members will have the fundamentals to be able to answer or research any finance related question.
3. Knowing the Importance of Ethics
Increased exposure to understanding your ethical and moral obligations as an accountant. In order to be inducted into the body all ACCA members are expected to complete the Ethics modules which lay out how to conduct yourself within the work environment and how to report financial irregularities.
4. Industry Experience
To be accepted as a full member, students must complete 3 years of relevant practical experience (PER). This is either signed off by fellow accountants or exemption is granted if you are working in Approved learning provider (ALP).
5. Collegiate Professionals
The ACCA membership offers the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals, attending seminars and conferences to build a professional network. Included with memberships is a Monthly magazine with all the latest financial news, economic data and trending topics.
6. Flexibility and cost effective
With 4 sittings per year there is more flexibility than ever to get through the exams. With digital education providers offering subscription-based membership to content and lecturers it has never been as cost effective to compete the exams. Due to the digital transition you don’t need to attend college and can study in your own time.
7. Lays the Foundations
In recent surveys it was highlighted that the CEO’s in 23% of FTSE 100 companies are Qualified Accountants. Within the same survey it was noted that of all FTSE 100 companies 55% of the CEO’s came from a financial background.
8. Future Compensation
When reviewing salaries for graduates across Ireland Accountancy and Finance has one of the lowest starting salaries. But don’t get used to the low pay, once you start passing exams and get closer to full qualification, Accountants salaries increases are quicker and more progressive than nearly all other professions with a basic salary of around €55,000 once you qualify. Newly qualified accountants in the Leinster area are seeing an overall salary package in excess of €60,000 once they are qualified. The average salary package in Leinster in over €100,000 for qualified accountants.
9. Continuous Education
With an expectation from the ACCA to compete 40 hours of CPD (Continuous Professional Development), you will be kept up to date with new IFRS® changes and financial trends. Keeping you current and an asset to your employer and clients.
10. Opens Doors to Multiple Career Avenues
Once a fully qualified ACCA member you become highly desirable for future employers. When in the infancy of your career you have multiple avenues such as advisory, taxation, financial analysis or more mainstream accounting. Completing the ACCA exams will guarantee you a skillset and fundamentals that can be used throughout your career. Like in my situation, it can also be used outside of finance realm and still brings with it an alternative perspective and thought process that adds value to many organisations.
Whatever path you chose you can expect to enjoy a rewarding, diverse and challenging career ahead. You can work in a wide variety of areas for many types of sectors, organisations and roles. Find out more about how Lincoln is helping accounting and finance professionals take their next career step here.