CFA CFA General ACA or CFA?

ACA or CFA?

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    • kmd890
      Participant
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      Hi,

      I know it’s probably been asked before but I’m trying to decide between ACA and CFA, I know they’re quite different. I always thought I’d do ACA but I fell into a job on the investments/analytics side after uni and CFA looks more relevant. However I’m not sure I want to be an Investment Banker as such, I was always more interested in M&A and corporate finance. Obviously ACA makes you an accountant and CFA doesn’t but what other key differences are there? Is CFA still relevant for M&A/Corp Finance?

      I’m sorry if my question seems silly, I’m only starting my research journey.

      Thanks

    • Zee Tan
      Keymaster
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      @sophie would be a great person to answer this – she’s done CFA and also seriously looked into accounting as well. There are no silly questions @kmd890!

    • Sophie Macon
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      Hi @kmd890 – like @zee said, not a silly question at all, because I pondered hard about that myself before deciding to take on the CFA instead!

      It depends what you want to pursue for your career. I’m slightly confused in your statement where you said you didn’t want to be an investment banker but are interested in M&A/corporate finance? I assume the latter.

      Just to give you some perspective, I was an investment banker, and did corporate finance / M&A as well a few years back when I considered the accounting (ACA / CIMA) vs CFA.

      In short, both ACA and CFA are relevant/useful for corporate finance, but I went for CFA as ACA was also very regulatory focused (e.g. IFRS etc) – well you’re trained to be a chartered accountant I suppose! In fact, my comparison for me at that time was CIMA vs. CFA, as I was interested in CIMA for the more practical commercial finance aspect of things (which still qualifies me as a chartered accountant).

      You’re right – besides the difference that CIMA/ACA that makes you an accountant (only if you fully qualify), I also compared the courses in terms of time and content. I focused on the latter more and decided to go for CFA as it had more relevant capital markets and valuation concepts discussed in Level 2, in particular, whilst also opening up the possibility for an Asset Management or Research role, which I was keen to explore then. Capital market aspects were briefly touched on, and I knew these were important in corporate finance.

      I also spoke to a few friends who were CIMA and ACA qualified, which led me to believe that those roles are in a strange way less flexible than what CFA could provide, because that qualification itself seems to put you in the ‘accountant’ box when you try to broaden your career scope. For example, ACA/CIMA qualified people are frequently sourced for roles in banks for product control where more regulatory work comes into place – I didn’t see the career flexibility I wanted there in such a qualification. Plus, CFA was globally recognised, and quite cost effective for such recognition, whilst ACA/CIMA are region specific in some ways.

      Hope this helps!

    • kmd890
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      Hi @Sophie!

      Thanks for your reply, I realised after I posted about M&A that I not make make sense, I had been looking at applying for the corporate finance divisions of accounting firms so it was that which I was originally interested in more so than portfolio management.

      Your answer has been really helpful, so thanks for taking the time to reply in such detail. Like you I think I’m seeing more arguments for the CFA, both professionally and in my situation. Although that’s not to say I might not have future questions 🙂

      Thanks again
      Karen

    • BeanCounter
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      Hi Karen,
      If you’re looking at working in an accounting firm then you’ll probably be on the graduate trainee scheme and wouldn’t really have much choice about what qualification you’d be doing.

      What stage in your career are you at? Final year undergrad?

    • Sophie Macon
      Keymaster
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      @kmd890 – I believe @beancounter can help provide some perspective here as an accountant and CFA candidate. Feel free to shoot more questions 🙂

    • BeanCounter
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      Hi @Sophie

      Yes, good point, I should have said. I’m an ACA (but I qualified in audit rather than in corporate finance) and I’m currently studying for L3 of the CFA. I’m happy to answer any specific questions you have about either as well…

    • kmd890
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      Thanks @beancounter
      I’ve been working for a year an a half now so it would be a bit of a step back to start a new grad scheme as i also had a year out, so a bit behind age wise. The scheme I thought I liked the look of was Corporate Finance with ACA, i can’t remember which firm it was with (this was before Xmas) but most of the big 4 and a few others offer something similar. I don’t want to get into a world of audit, so some articles on ACA leading to that have put me off a bit.

      What made you go for CFA once you already had ACA? And career wise, where do you see CFA taking you that ACA alone can’t?

      Thanks again!

    • BeanCounter
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      Hi @Kmd890,

      What sort of work are you doing at the moment and for what sort of firm?
      In terms of the graduate training schemes there are plenty of people from a variety of ages and backgrounds on them. For example within my training cohort were lots of people with masters (so at least a year or two away from undergrad), one person who had a PhD in chemistry and had been working as a research scientist for a number of years (he was in his mid-30s). The average age was mid to high 20s.

      In terms of what made me go for the CFA, it was because my next role will likely be within a structuring team. The ACA gave me a good basic level of instruments – but as you’ve said, it’s about accounting not necessarily finance (these are very different things). The CFA is excellent in exposure to the various instruments around (even if a bit out of date at times) and techniques used for predicting cash flows.

      Corporate finance is a very broad area, and while I can understand why you think it’s attractive, you need to know what area you are going into. Have you considered the management consultancies? They also have teams that do corporate finance work and, in lots of ways, they may be a better shot than the accountancy firms.

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