ICAG vs ACCA: Which should you pick?

photo_2016-02-17_12-41-40_pm.pngFor an advanced career in accounting, a professional certification is usually required. In Ghana, options include the Institute of Chartered Accountants – Ghana (ICAG), Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

People with a degree seeking an accounting certification or seeking to go straight ahead from high school to seek the qualification often wonder which one to go for. I was in the same situation sometime back and I decided to go with ICAG. My choice notwithstanding, I’m going to objectively compare ICAG and ACCA. I hope people will find this post as useful as I would’ve found it back then.

Cost

ICAG charges a GH¢100 annual student subscription and a maximum of GH¢150 per paper in examinations. ACCA charges an annual student subscription of £85 (GH¢478.74) and a maximum of £110 (GH¢619.55) per paper. They charge a maximum of £277 (GH¢1560.13) for late registration. So ICAG is much more affordable.

Convenience

Both of them have 14 papers structured in 3 levels. You can write ICAG twice a year – May and November. You can write ACCA four times a year as well as write some computer-based papers on-demand. That makes ACCA much more flexible.

Difficulty

I’m going to be subjective here since I’ve not written any ACCA exam but I have seen their questions and I have friends who have written them.

ICAG is reputed to be very difficult. In fact, until about five years ago when ICAG decided to get more open and attract more students the tales of the examination’s difficulty were like a badge of honour for those who successfully completed it.

I have to admit that the examinations were the most challenging of my life so far. By challenging I’m talking about the investment of time in preparation for them and the quantity of work demanded per paper within the time allotted. I am informed that the ACCA is similarly challenging.

Therefore I recommend that one should not see either of them as an easy path to being a chartered accountant. Both of them require a lot of time and practice to pass the exams. I’m calling this a tie.

Recognition

In Ghana, only full members of the ICAG can call themselves Chartered Accountants. That gives them the authority to certify accounts. If you have an ACCA, you will be required to apply to ICAG and write some papers in order to be admitted into the fold. ICAG is also a member of IFAC and has a close relationship with ICAEW, so it’s recognised internationally. ACCA however, has the advantage of being more easily recognisable outside the country. This would prove useful especially when you need to work abroad. So on recognition, I’m going to say it depends on the career path you wish to take.

Update: An ACCA colleague told me that you only need to apply for membership to ICAG and pay a fee of GH¢5,200 to be admitted.

Career Prospects

Who knows? If you’ve already got a job any of these professional qualifications will boost your earnings. If you’re entry level having either of these will be about equal. In the end having either of these will not necessarily decide the path your career will take.

Conclusion

I hope you found this useful.

For tips on how to pass an ICAG exam, read this. For a comparison of ICAG and CIMA, click here.

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Jerome Kuseh

Financial Analyst | Accountant | Private Investor
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223 comments

  1. An added advantage for ICAG is that they have a scholarship scheme where students who obtained first class in their undergraduate study in a recognised Ghanaian university get to write the exams free of charge (and no student subscription fee or registration). The scholarship is withdrawn if the student fails any paper or attempts to write another Accounting exams concurrently. And the student must complete the exams within 5 years unlike the 10 years for those who are not on scholarship

  2. An added advantage for ICAG is that they have a scholarship scheme where students who obtained first class in their undergraduate study in a recognised Ghanaian university get to write the exams free of charge (and no student subscription fee or registration). The scholarship is withdrawn if the student fails any paper or attempts to write another Accounting exams concurrently. And the student must complete the exams within 5 years unlike the 10 years for those who are not on scholarship

  3. An added advantage for ICAG is that they have a scholarship scheme where students who obtained first class in their undergraduate study in a recognised Ghanaian university get to write the exams free of charge (and no student subscription fee or registration). The scholarship is withdrawn if the student fails any paper or attempts to write another Accounting exams concurrently. And the student must complete the exams within 5 years unlike the 10 years for those who are not on scholarship

  4. Jerome, is CA equivalent to ICM-UK. Please help me with certificates that are equivalent to CA II… Thank you.

  5. Jerome, is CA equivalent to ICM-UK. Please help me with certificates that are equivalent to CA II… Thank you.

      • CA can never be equal to ICAEW, ICAS, ACCA and others. These later mentioned qualifications have an international appeal and have a current syllabus which is updated frequently. In terms of Exam questions, that of ACCA is more practical (case study questions). CA copy past ACCA Exam questions most of the time for its students especially Financial Management and Financial Reporting papers.

  6. hi thanks a lot for this post – it’s been helpful. I ld like to know if icag and acca both have the same or similar topics. I didn’t know there was a difference until now. I only have acca materials but I want to register go in for icag. thanks

  7. hi thanks a lot for this post – it’s been helpful. I ld like to know if icag and acca both have the same or similar topics. I didn’t know there was a difference until now. I only have acca materials but I want to register go in for icag. thanks

  8. Hi Jerome, i seriously need your assistance, i completed UPSA this year and was awarded with Pass. I want to know if there is a way to better it to a honoured award. I also want to know if the CA can give me a better stand. Thank you.

  9. Hi Jerome, i seriously need your assistance, i completed UPSA this year and was awarded with Pass. I want to know if there is a way to better it to a honoured award. I also want to know if the CA can give me a better stand. Thank you.

    • A pass degree means you have a degree except that it did not come with any of the honour classes.Having a CA qualification in addition will enhance your standing with employers.

  10. I have entered into ICAG with my high school certificate (wassce) but some people are saying I should stop cos it not easy to pass there exams,others also says for wassce holders it will be difficult for me to be employed after completing my course.l am so confuse,please help me out.

  11. I have entered into ICAG with my high school certificate (wassce) but some people are saying I should stop cos it not easy to pass there exams,others also says for wassce holders it will be difficult for me to be employed after completing my course.l am so confuse,please help me out.

  12. Good information. Very useful. I’d love to see similar posts comparing different professional exams too

  13. Good information. Very useful. I’d love to see similar posts comparing different professional exams too

  14. Thus it mean when you complete your CA you will be given exemptions in a Masters’ Program I.e in Accounting/Finance

    If yes, how does it work? Can you please elaborate .

  15. Thus it mean when you complete your CA you will be given exemptions in a Masters’ Program I.e in Accounting/Finance

    If yes, how does it work? Can you please elaborate .

      • Again, can you use your ICA certificate to apply for a master’s program just as there are options to use your ACCA certificate to apply for masters program in some universities in UK

        Or beta still assuming you read Sociology at the bachelor degree level, can your ICA qualification or certificate help you to gain admission into a master’s program in Accounting or Finance

  16. I did the following courses at the undergraduate level:
    Financial Accounting, Cost and Management Accounting, Auditing, Taxation, Public Sector Accounting, Investment and Financial Management.
    I want to know whether I will be exempted from those courses or still force to write. please help me.

  17. I did the following courses at the undergraduate level:
    Financial Accounting, Cost and Management Accounting, Auditing, Taxation, Public Sector Accounting, Investment and Financial Management.
    I want to know whether I will be exempted from those courses or still force to write. please help me.

  18. Please with completing all the levels in ica can u offer masters programme in Business Administration in any of the ghana universities without having first degree. Please I need more details bcos am comfused.

  19. Please with completing all the levels in ica can u offer masters programme in Business Administration in any of the ghana universities without having first degree. Please I need more details bcos am comfused.

  20. Pls am nt near Accra so I want know how I can easy get access to ica tuitions and with the ica text books does the registration include it or it suppose to by it personal.

  21. Pls am nt near Accra so I want know how I can easy get access to ica tuitions and with the ica text books does the registration include it or it suppose to by it personal.

  22. please when I pass the ica part one will I need to go to level 100 in the university to offer business administration

  23. please when I pass the ica part one will I need to go to level 100 in the university to offer business administration

  24. i have a degree in accounting which comes with exemptions if i apply icag but can i choose what should be exempted. pls need some help with dis

  25. i have a degree in accounting which comes with exemptions if i apply icag but can i choose what should be exempted. pls need some help with dis

  26. Hi Sir,
    Am so grateful reading your materials.Your objective analysis of ICAG and ACCA
    programmes, examination guide and all.
    Thanks so much and more grease to your elbow.
    Regards,
    Gyasi K

  27. Hi Sir,
    Am so grateful reading your materials.Your objective analysis of ICAG and ACCA
    programmes, examination guide and all.
    Thanks so much and more grease to your elbow.
    Regards,
    Gyasi K

  28. Hi Sir,
    Am so grateful reading your materials.Your objective analysis of ICAG and ACCA
    programmes, examination guide and all.
    Thanks so much and more grease to your elbow.
    Regards,
    Gyasi K

    • If you’ve registered for a paper, you’ll have to re-register if you don’t write it. If you’re talking about registering as a student, then you have 10 years to complete the exams

  29. please i have gain admission to study publishing studies at knust…can also register for ICA ? i want to do it attach to the publishing…any advice for me ?

  30. please i have gain admission to study publishing studies at knust…can also register for ICA ? i want to do it attach to the publishing…any advice for me ?

  31. please i have gain admission to study publishing studies at knust…can also register for ICA ? i want to do it attach to the publishing…any advice for me ?

  32. That is a very insightful piece i read, am planning of registering for the ICAG this month but my worry is will i be allowed to write the November examinations?

  33. That is a very insightful piece i read, am planning of registering for the ICAG this month but my worry is will i be allowed to write the November examinations?

  34. I would want to register for icag what are the requirements. and I’m still pursuing my bachelor degree in accounting would I be given the chance? what would be the arrangement?

  35. I would want to register for icag what are the requirements. and I’m still pursuing my bachelor degree in accounting would I be given the chance? what would be the arrangement?

  36. I would want to register for icag what are the requirements. and I’m still pursuing my bachelor degree in accounting would I be given the chance? what would be the arrangement?

  37. I’m a french and geography student in the university level 200 and have decided to take the ACCA examination in march. Do you think its a good idea and also which ACCA tuition provider would you suggest i join since id be starting from scratch with no business background but just elective math.

  38. Very insightful replies. I wrote ICA papers in part 2 but not convinced of my results. I really trusted my work. Can I opt for re-marking and how much will it cost me if that is possible?

  39. Hi J. Kuseh, thank you for the information, Please how can I get these books from Ghana Financial Reporting, Management Accounting, Public Sector Accounting, Corporate Strategy & Governance
    I live in Liberia

  40. As a BBA Accounting Graduate, which of these options is more feasible

    1) Acquire MBA in accounting so that i get exempted from part 2 of ICA

    2) or Write the part 2 and 3 afterwards i get an MBA

    Kindly assist me with your view

  41. Hi Mr Kuseh, I have HND in Marketing and l want to register for ICAG. Please need your advice
    will there be exemptions and how long will it take me to complete the course

  42. Thank you Mr Jerome for such a wonderful insight. I really got what I was looking for through various answers given, Mr Jerome it means CA-Gh is equivalent to First Degree but not masters. Thx

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