Make an accountancy course add up to more
The ACCA route to training can lead to varied opportunities around the world, discovers Maggie Stanfield
EVERY qualified accountant understands tax and VAT, audited accounts and balance sheets, how to communicate with HMRC and how to get bills paid. But there is a great deal more to this job than getting the numbers in order.
Broadly, there are two types of accountant. First, Chartered Accountants (members of ICAS or ICAEW) are graduates who traditionally work in practices where they provide a range of clients with correct monitoring and assurance services. Secondly, there are members of ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) who can be found in accounting practices as well as corporate organisations across every sector, often within a finance or strategic management team.
Both have all the essential skills but the choice of path each individual takes in order to be qualified depends upon a range of factors. ACCA’s focus tends to be wider and much more commercially oriented. One route is not necessarily superior to the other; rather, it depends more upon what an individual wants to do with his or her qualification.
Because ACCA is a truly global accountancy qualification, its 154,000 members in 170 countries have the freedom to work anywhere in the world. As a result, many applicants come from countries as far afield as Sub-Saharan Africa and Ukraine, Taiwan or Australia. What these entrants share, though, is the desire for very business-oriented training which has the potential to provide career options around the world.
Another reason for ACCA’s popularity is that the training does not demand a primary degree for entry. That, importantly, means that school leavers can work their way through the curriculum alongside – for example – more mature people who have decided to make a career change, or graduates. E-learning and online tutoring make for a very flexible and attractive method of building qualifications while employed.
There is crossover between the two directions. Understandably, not every trainee knows at the start of their career in exactly which direction they want to go – and the profession is flexible enough to recognise this. The opportunity to make a shift of career path via ACCA is one that those seeking to work in a more commercially driven environment can choose to take.
Allan Dowie is chief financial officer at Clyde Blowers. When he set out on his training some 20 years ago, he had a fairly clear idea of the direction he wanted to take: “When I picked the ACCA route it was because it gave me a varied choice of subjects and a better balance overall. I could see that there would be more potential roles for me in terms of my career going forward and that the globally recognised qualifica- tions would offer me the opportunity to move overseas and take on those global connections.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my career, taking on global roles, particularly in the past few years at Clyde Blowers. I also worked with KPMG, so my ACCA qualifications have not closed off that route.
“The range of subjects gave me a better, more rounded grounding than I might otherwise have had. I became involved in more business areas at an earlier stage than I might have done had I been concentrating on accountancy practice, taking on more audit training.”
Clearly, Dowie wanted to get inside the wider context of how a business performs and delivers to its clients and its shareholders. His job perspective is one that reaches out far beyond the bottom line: “I wanted to get into business, to be able to take on a more generalist approach in terms of how it all works; how the different elements combine at the most effective and efficient level.
“Finance cuts into almost every
Allan Dowie of Clyde Blowers has valued the global recognition of an ACCA qualification