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What you should know before you choose whether to write ACCA or CFA

What you should know before you choose whether to write ACCA or CFA

The importance of writing professional exams cannot be over emphasized in a highly competitive job market. It is an industry requirement one must identify with in order to open newer avenues and to ensure steady growth in one’s career.

Individuals with higher credentials are always well-regarded in the corporate domain as certifications hold great value.

Obtaining certifications in a certain area exhibits your proficiency in that particular field and ensures faster career progression and higher returns.

Advantages of Finance Certifications:

  • They help individuals perform better and strive towards excellence.
  • They improve the market value of a professional thus increasing their visibility for recruiters.
  • Higher qualification and credentials mean more job security.
  • They can earn higher remuneration than the industry average

This article will focus on the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), the two most well-known and respected courses in Finance that will set you up for growth in your career and make you stand out worldwide.

I would attempt to outline the differences between the two exams to aid you in deciding which career path you want to follow. 

Differences between Both Exams

Exam Style:


The CFA exam is a very rigorous exam where you are expected to pass the 3 levels before you earn the charter.


You will be tested in a broad range of courses which includes;

Ethical and Professional Standards / Economics / Quantitative Techniques / Financial Reporting and Analysis / Corporate Finance / Fixed Income / Equity valuation / Derivatives / Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning / Alternative Investments.

Note: There are no exemptions for the CFA exam.


ACCA exams are conducted in the months of March, June, September and December every year.

You are expected to pass at least 14 exams in total from a combination of courses in the different modules. In addition to completing the exams you will need 3 years practical experience in a relevant role to qualify.

You will need to pass courses in each module before you can advance to the next

The ACCA offers you the luxury of taking the courses at your own pace, which means you can write one course from each module every few months or year. This is in contrast with the CFA which requires you study for the 10 courses to be written in a single day.

You can have exemptions for the ACCA exam which will be dependent on your course of study and previous professional qualifications. 


The CFA exam cannot be written in Nigeria, the closest place to write this exam is in Ghana. Other countries where you can take the exam includes; South Africa, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Tunisia, USA, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates etc.

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The ACCA exam has over 400 exam centers in 170 countries around the world with Lagos included.

Time to Pass

It takes an average of 3-5 years to complete the CFA and ACCA Exams.

Cost of Writing


Program enrollment fee – $450

Early Registration fee – $650

Standard Registration fee – $950

Late Registration fee – $1,380

These payments are the same across the three levels.


Initial Registration is £32

Knowledge Level Exams

  • Early payment is £72
  • Standard payment is £76
  • Late payment is £231

 Skills Level Exams

 Range from £80 – £269

Professional Level Exams

Ranges from £125 – £298 

Perception of CFA and ACCA EXAMS in Nigeria

Both exams are highly respected. In Nigeria CFA charter holders are likely to end up as financial analysts in Investment Banks, Financial Consulting Firms, and Banks among others.

How easy is it for a graduate of a non-financial/economics course to write CFA or ACCA

Nothing is impossible in life if you are focused.

From speaking with people who have passed both exams, it is advisable to adhere to the following;

  • Know what direction you want to go career wise. This will help you stay motivated.
  • Start reading early.
  • Be ready to be MIA (Missing in Action for social activities).
  • Weekends should be totally sold out to these exams.
  • Attend lectures.
  • Understand yourself and create a timetable that works well for you. (Are you a morning or night reader?).
  • Solve as many questions as possible.
  • Eat healthy and exercise. 
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Career Path 

CFA Charterholders

Portfolio Manager / Research Analyst / Consultant / Chief-Level Executive / Risk Manager / Corporate Financial Analyst / Relationship Manager / Financial Advisor

Career Prospects of ACCA holders

The ACCA exam is focused on core accounting skills that covers a broad range of jobs in roles such as; Chief Financial Officer / Accountant / Tax Manager / Internal Auditor / Finance Manager / Financial Consultant


If you are looking to specialize in finance and investment – research, equity and financial analysis, then the CFA certification would be best for you.

If you are looking for a much broader qualification which will give you employment opportunities in a wider range of companies, then the ACCA would be best for you.

For more information on each of these exams, you can visit their respective websites –


Culled from: Nairametrics



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