ACCA, CPA, CMA, CFA or Pakistani CA – which one should be done?
The objective of this post is to provide some guidance for career planning to aspiring students and other interested people from immigration toCanadaorAustraliapoint of view. Reasoning provided is based on personal experience only.
If you plan to stay in Pakistan then:
Doing Pakistani CA or CMA is the best option as it is highly respected inPakistan. It is also highly rewarding in the country. Most of the Pakistani firms have strong preference for Pakistani Chartered accountants. Also, if you have already done Pakistani CA then you only have to clear 3 papers to qualify for ACA from ICEAW (UK Qualification) .Also, there is a mutual agreement between ICEAW and ICAA (Australia) so one automatically qualifies for ICCA,s CA after qualifying for ICEAW CA.
If you want to move abroad (Canada, UK, USA or Australia)
Though Pakistani designations are very well respected in Pakistan but in Canada, UK, USA, or Australia these designations are not recognized and do not provide much benefits/exemptions. Though with Pakistani designations, a person can get immigration to a western country, but chances to get a good job are really bleak as each country accepts its own designations. At least this is true in Canada.
ACCA, CIMA (UK), CFA, and CMA(IMA) are the designations that can be taken in Pakistan and provide very important advantage over Pakistani CA/CMA, as these have mutual recognition agreements with Canadian designations (i.e. CGA, CMA). CIMA(UK)has MRA with Candian CMA. ICAEW CA has MRA with Canadian CA. ACCA has MRA with CGA. CFA is truly global, without any other competing local designation in any country, 100% accepted and highly respected in Canada.
ACCA has mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with CGA (one of 3 Canadian designations) as well as CPA (Australia). It means if a student in Pakistan gets ACCA then he/she can very easily (infact with minimal efforts) get Canadian CGA or Australlian CPA. So that student can get immigration to Canada or Australia. And I tell you that if a person enters into Canada or Australia with CGA or CPA (which are their own designations), would not find difficulty in these countries in finding jobs. Canada is a country that attracts about 300,000 highly skilled and professional immigrants each year from all over the world that includes Pakistani accountants too. Some parts of Canada like Montreal are dominantly French speaking, which is 2nd official language besides English. So, Pakistani professionals don’t find work in those parts just because of not knowing French. Thus, their job market shrinks to English speaking cities/provinces. Also, each of 3 Canadian accounting associations (i.e. CGA, CMA, CA) has more than 50,000 members (total more than 150,000). Accounting graduates of Canadian universities and colleges (who are educated and brought up here and get the big chunk of jobs as they know the system better than new Pakistani immigrants and had more opportunities to enter job market), as well as members of other global accounting bodies like US CPA, CMA(IMA), ACCA, ICAEW, Indian/Chinese CAs are over and above 150,000 Canadian designated accountants, thus, make the situation worse. Also, Canada’s population is about 30,000,000 (3 Karor only). Further, Canadian employers require and prefer Canadian designations and Canadian work experience. Thus, job market is highly competitive and Pakistani designations holders find difficulties in finding good jobs quickly that are at same level of their previous jobs. Means they don’t find the same level of good jobs they have been doing in Pakistan or Middle East previously before immigration. Age, family and financial responsibilities further increase obstacles after immigration. I have seen many Pakistani CAs and CMAs, with very good accounting experiences, struggling in finding even low paying jobs in Canada and eventually applying for exemptions for Canadian designations and then studying again for years to get Canadian designations or working for US CPA/ CMA. With their families, full time work and age, people find very difficult to take expensive courses and fulfill required experience. So it becomes hard to finish designation in new country. It takes years of endurance and commitment. The reason of telling all this is NOT to scare you people, but a fact realization and to ask for PLAN AHEAD and do some career planning in early life. It would save your time, energies, resources, and efforts later. Just a side note: With all difficulties, Pakistanies are flourishing in all fields and every sphere of Canadian society. They are Member of Parliment (MPs), advisor to Prime Minister, MPPs, Counsilors, Lawyers, accountants, doctors, engineers, in govt. jobs, armed forces, police, foreign services etc. Infact, Pakistan ranks 5th in terms of Canadian immigration and almost 10,000 Pakistanis immigrate to Canada each year. Canada requires 3 years (actually, 1080 days) to live on Canadian soil before applying for citizenship, that usually takes less than a year. So, an immigrant becomes Canadian citizen in less then 4 years.
So prospective students and interested people in Pakistan should plan ahead. In my view, if a person in Pakistan can afford to do ACCA and wants to move to EU, Australia, Canada, and eventually to USA, should do ACCA. Its also an indirect way to move to USA (in long run) and so many Pakistani, Indians, Chinese and other nationals opt this way. With ACCA, get Canadian immigration and citizenship in 4 years (3 plus 1 year waiting for oath), get Canadian CGA through MRA with ACCA, get a good job and Canadian experience, and after 4 years move to USA. During these 4 years one can get US CPA or CMA (IMA), or even without US CPA or CMA, just get a job in USA and move after 4 years based on Canadian experience and designation. Canadian designations are legally acceptable to get a job and TN visa in USA. I have seen designated accountants from asian countries including Pakistan who worked in Middle East and due to several reasons eventually moved to Canada, found difficulties in finding jobs here. What is the benefit if a student spends money, time and endless efforts in getting Pakistani designations and 10 years down the road realizes to immigrate to western countries, starts studies again at the age of 40 in new country. Rather than this way, save time, efforts, and money, do ACCA in Pakistan (in your home when dad is paying), get new country’s designation through mutual recognition agreement (MRA), get immigration and citizenship, and get a job. Even that student can complete remaining courses of ACCA in new country if he/she moves before completing ACCA as ACCA courses can be taken in any country including Canada, Australlia, USA, and Middle East, and then get new country’s designation using MRA.
Moreover, remember Pakistani CA or CMA results are highly market demand related. See how many members they have as of today, which means only limited number of fortunate people could successfully finish Pakistani CA or CMA. All others only did articleship or some papers or levels. What is the benefit if a student with all necessary efforts does not pass or doesn’t get certificate or charter. I am quite sure many of the students of Pakistani CA or CMA are quite capable of completing ACCA, CMA (IMA), or CFA, as even with low passing rates, these designations usually do not fail a student just to restrict market supply of graduates.
CIMA(UK) also has MRA with Canadian CMA.
NO doubt, CFA is really a global designation, without a competitor, acceptable and respected everywhere in the world, but different from accounting, and comparatively more difficult than other global accounting designations.
Again, let me say that this is just my opinion based on years of experience and what I saw here. It is for those students who wanna go to western countries and get a good job and experience quickly.