CA Vs. ACCA: Similarities and Differences

You might wonder what CA (Chartered Accountants) and ACCA (The Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) are in Pakistan. Which is better, what are the differences between the two? Is CA better in Pakistan, or is ACCA better?

Well, not to fret. We have information below to inform you of the history of both CA and ACCA, differences, similarities, and what is best for you.


First, we delve into how the CA and ACCA came into being below. 


Chartered Accountants (CAs) are known as the first accountants to form a professional accounting body. This began in Scotland in 1854 through the “Edinburgh Society of Accountants” when they were granted a royal charter.

In Pakistan, Chartered Accountancy came into existence when the “Institute of Chartered Accountants” (ICAP) was formed under Chartered Accountants Ordinance 1961. Unlike many other countries, ICAP is the sole body and authority in Pakistan to regulate accounting and auditing professions.


The Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA), on the other hand, was founded in 1904 and was initially known as the London Association of Accountants. The goal of forming this body was to allow more open access to the profession than was available through accounting bodies (i.e. “Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales” and “Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland”) at that time. Its motive now is to be valued as “Global Qualification”.

Courses & Exams

ACCA and CA are very similar in course offerings. Both have courses ranging from accounting and assurance disciplines to legal disciplines, such as corporate law and taxation. But there are some considerable differences also. 


CA is generally considered an advancement to ACCA. It is mandatory for CA students to study Advanced Taxation, Advanced Audit & Assurance, Advanced Financial Management, and Advanced Performance Management. Also, up to to 22 exams need to be passed for the CA qualification.


ACCA students have to choose & pass either two to claim membership. Although both have a rigorous testing system, statistics prove that CA Pakistan exams were tougher to clear than ACCA exams.

For ACCA, one has to pass up to 13 exams. 

Worldwide Recognition

Most countries have their own respective accounting bodies. This means that every country has its own version of CA. Examples include CPA of USA, CPA Canada and CA UK (ICAEW). This is due to differences in business, corporate, and taxation laws of each country.


CA Pakistan (ICAP) is a member of IFAC and is recognized by ICAEW, CIPFA, CA Australia & New Zealand, and CPA Canada only. On the other hand,


ACCA is recognized in almost every country by almost every accounting body. ACCA is also known as “global qualification” due to its links and gateways to other accounting bodies.

Power of Qualifications


ICAP legally enables its members to practice audit and assurance. ICAP members have the power to sign audit reports of companies under the Companies Act 2017. Moreover, ICAP members are allowed by Tax Ordinance to decide/approve the depreciation rates on certain capital assets.


ACCA members do not have the legal authority to do any of the above. Both the qualification holders, however, can be professional tax consultants/practitioners. There’s one edge ACCA has over CA, which makes its members more mobile, that as you progress with your qualification, you are awarded internationally recognized BSc and MSc degrees. ICAP members get only master's level “equivalency” and that too only on completing the qualification.

Designated Roles in Organizations

Both are highly respected qualifications. The following information was gathered through research. It shows the employment trend inside Pakistan relating to members of both bodies.


CA: CA Pakistan graduates usually started with semi-tactical roles while ICAP members were offered tactical to semi-strategic roles. Only ICAP members are allowed to reach “partner” status. 

ACCA: ACCA members started with operational roles ACCA members were offered semi-tactical to tactical roles. 


CA: CA Pakistan graduates usually started with semi-tactical to the tactical roles and ICAP members were offered semi-strategic to governance level roles.

ACCA: ACCA members started with operational to the semi-tactical roles and ACCA members were offered tactical at most and semi-strategic in exceptional cases,

Preferences in Pakistan

Due to powers granted by the Companies Act 2017, Tax Ordinance 2001, and other similar laws, ICAP members are always preferred over ACCA members in Pakistan. Apart from that, biases also exist because:

1. CA Pakistan is a Pakistani qualification

2. Employers are mostly ICAP members

3. CA is considered tougher than ACCA, therefore, the perceptual bias of skills and intellect

Due to this, ACCA usually has a very high unemployment rate in Pakistan and lower salaries.

Outside Pakistan, ACCA is considered much more. In fact, it is recognized as one of the best qualifications.


Using the similarities, differences, and general information regarding the CA and ACCA above, it is important for you to make the choice of which program you prefer. At the end of the day, despite all the information presented, the final choice is yours, so make sure to be sure of what you want to do. Good luck