ACCA Vs CFA: Understanding The Differences

ACCA Vs CFA: Understanding The Differences


The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) are two prestigious professional qualifications, each catering to distinct areas within the finance and accounting domain. Understanding the differences between ACCA UAE and CFA is crucial for individuals contemplating their career paths in finance.

Scope and focus:

ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants):

  • Scope: ACCA is a globally recognized qualification that primarily focuses on accounting, auditing, and financial management.
  • Career emphasis: ACCA prepares professionals for roles in accounting, taxation, audit, and financial consulting. It is well-suited for those aspiring to become chartered accountants and work in areas such as public practice or corporate finance.

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst):

  • Scope: CFA is a designation specifically designed for investment professionals, emphasizing portfolio management, investment analysis, and financial markets.
  • Career Emphasis: CFA is ideal for those seeking careers in investment banking, asset management, hedge funds, and investment research. It equips professionals with skills necessary for evaluating and managing investments.

Examination structure:


  • Structure: ACCA consists of a series of exams divided into two levels – the Applied Knowledge level and the Applied Skills level, followed by the Professional level.
  • Focus: The exams cover a broad range of accounting and finance topics, including financial reporting, taxation, and business strategy.


  • Structure: CFA has a three-level exam structure – Level I, Level II, and Level III.
  • Focus: The exams focus on topics such as ethics, economics, financial statement analysis, portfolio management, and derivatives. Level III involves constructing and managing investment portfolios.

Time and duration:


  • Time frame: Completing ACCA typically takes around three to four years, depending on individual pace and exam success.
  • Work experience: ACCA requires candidates to complete three years of relevant work experience before obtaining full membership.


  • Time frame: Completing the CFA program can take a minimum of three years, as candidates’ progress through the three levels.
  • Work experience: CFA candidates need four years of qualified work experience, which can be earned before, during, or after completing the exams.

The choice between ACCA and CFA depends on career aspirations and professional interests. ACCA is well-suited for those aiming to become chartered accountants and pursue careers in accounting and financial management. On the other hand, CFA is tailored for individuals interested in investment analysis and portfolio management roles within the broader finance industry.