For 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I hope you found this useful.