Why is ACCA Not Recognized in the USA?

Introduction

The field of accountancy offers a plethora of professional certifications, many of which enjoy global recognition and hold significant value and credibility in the corporate world. One such popular accounting certificate is the ACCA, administered and offered by the accounting body of the same name. With impressive salary benefits, career opportunities, and room for ample professional growth, this certification makes for a rewarding professional certification.
But have you noticed that ACCA is not recognized in the USA? It has international recognition as a professional certification in accountancy and provides world-class education through its exam curriculum. However, the ACCA certification is not recognized in the USA. To understand why ACCA is not recognized in the USA, stick around till the end so that you have all the information you need before you can make a decision in your career.

Introduction to ACCA Course

Before we address the elephant in the room, let's first discuss the ACCA course in depth, which will help us understand why ACCA is not recognized in the USA. The ACCA, or Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, is the official accounting body based in the United Kingdom, which offers the ACCA certification to individuals who successfully pass the ACCA exam. It operates as a single entity, and credentials from this brand itself are enough to work as an accountant in commonwealth countries with high-paying jobs. As such, people regard it as the largest professional accounting credential in the world.
The ACCA course consists of three levels which can be completed within 6-24 months. This course pertains to core competencies of accountancy and includes areas such as auditing, taxation, business analysis, financial management and reporting, management, and financial accounting. ACCA candidates are aware of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which are majorly complied with by companies working in the corporate sector.
With only a 50% aggregate percentage required to clear the ACCA exam, students find it easy to pass this certification exam and obtain the certificate. This makes them eligible for ACCA jobs and has signing authority in over 90 countries, including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.

Why is ACCA not recognized in the USA?

Many factors can be attributed to the answer to the question of why ACCA is not recognized in the USA. 
  • In the USA, Accountants are required to possess knowledge of GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and comply with US Federal Laws when working. The ACCA curriculum has no scope for such education in reference to the US system of accounting. That's why ACCA professionals do not have the signing authority or even the working expertise in the USA.
  • Working in the USA as an Accountant requires a License, obtained through another certification known as the US CPA. This certification is offered by the popular accounting bodies in the USA, namely the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
  • Due to the lack of knowledge of the local jurisdiction of the states of the USA, ACCA candidates are not of much value to most US-based companies. However, some international companies and accounting firms still prefer ACCA due to their knowledge and expertise.

What is the value of the ACCA in the USA? 

One reason why ACCA is not recognized in the USA is that the ACCA certification mostly pertains to Chartered Accountancy which is generally not accepted in the USA, rendering the ACCA credential less useful. There are many multinational accounting firms and corporations in the USA that value the credentials of ACCA. However, it is possible only for jobs related to non-US tax and accounting issues for which a CPA License is required as it falls under the domain of public accounting. 
An ACCA certification will certainly not allow certificate holders to work as public accountants in the USA. The CPA License is only issued at the state level, and professionals with the CPA certification must know about the local rules and laws as public accounting professionals. The bad news is there is no reciprocity available for ACCA members and CPA Licensure. This is the primary reason why ACCA is not recognized in the USA.
The upside is that it requires very less time to clear the ACCA exam, and if you opt for exemptions, you can easily manage the ACCA exam in 12 months. Since there is an overlap in the ACCA and US CPA syllabi by about 40-50%, you can prepare for the CPA exam and clear it easily, as the ACCA syllabus will be able to provide the knowledge based on which you can go ahead for the US CPA exam.

What is the list of countries where ACCA-qualified professionals are highly preferred?

Although ACCA is not recognized in the USA, it is recognized in over 180 countries, including Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand, apart from the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries. In some countries, ACCA-certified professionals enjoy immense popularity.
  1. United Kingdom
The ACCA certification itself is conferred by the UK-based accounting body ACCA. The UK is a global hub of financial and economic growth and development. New opportunities are always coming up in various fields, especially in the financial market. Since the UK is one of the top countries to accept ACCA and has a wide range of job opportunities, someone with an ACCA certification can settle here if they wish.
  1. Germany
Germany is another one of the world's most influential and growing economies due to its industries and manufacturing units. There are many business and career opportunities in the finance and accounting sector. Its education sector has undergone immense developments all these years, which has made way for various finance companies and organizations to expand in Germany. This gives ACCA members a good market to explore various job opportunities.
  1. Singapore
Singapore has gone through rapid developments and is considered one of the growing career hubs of the world. Many financial institutions and organizations have developed in Singapore where ACCA members can find ample job opportunities. Singapore is one of the many countries which accepts and values the ACCA credentials. There are many educational institutions offering the ACCA course. Singapore is considered to be one of the most sought-after countries to work in by ACCA-certified professionals.
  1. Canada
Even though ACCA is not recognized in the USA, its neighbor, Canada, accepts ACCA credentials. Canada is another country with a growing economy with ample space for economic and financial development. With their focus on economic sustainability, Canada has many opportunities for finance and accounting professionals.
  1. Malaysia
Another Asian country like Singapore which is slowly increasing its economic capacity, is Malaysia. Malaysia has signed MoU with many of the Western countries, allowing credentials valid in other countries to be recognized in Malaysia as well. This includes ACCA UK as well. With a booming economy, there is growth in the financial sector as well, providing numerous opportunities for ACCA-certified professionals.

List of Some Popular Myths about ACCA 

Knowing that ACCA is not recognized in the USA, people have developed certain misconceptions about ACCA. Some even circulate on the internet, while others spread through word of mouth. If you have stumbled upon any myth about ACCA or have just started exploring ACCA, let's debunk some popular myths before letting these misconceptions guide your decision.
  • ACCA is for those Settling Abroad
While ACCA is not recognized in the USA, more than 180 countries welcome ACCA-certified professionals and have booming economies for professionals in the financial and accounting sector. Even in India, many multinational corporations and accounting firms have branches in India in many of the important cities like PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, EY, etc. 
  • No Support for Placement
Even though ACCA is not recognized in the USA, many job opportunities are available for ACCA-certified professionals worldwide. In fact, the ACCA organization has a dedicated portal comprising more than 7300 approved employers for assisting ACCA members in finding jobs and internships at various organizations. Even if you enroll in ACCA coaching at a reputed coaching institute, you will get placement assistance after completing the course.
There are many industries where the services of an ACCA are required, and ACCA-certified professionals are readily hired, including sectors like public practice, banking, and financial services, digital, education and training, healthcare, etc. 
  • It is Expensive
Spending on education is not an expense; it is an investment. In India, there are many degrees and professional certifications available in the field of finance and accounting. Courses like Chartered Accountancy (CA) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) are readily available to students interested in pursuing a career in Accountancy in India, and MBA programs in finance are widely available and accepted. Completing the CA or CFA costs around INR 3 lakhs to INR 3.5 lakhs, whereas enrolling in a good B-school for an MBA program in finance will cost anywhere between INR 10 lakhs to INR 20 lakhs. In comparison, ACCA costs around INR 4 lakhs to INR 4.5 lakhs, providing a global edge to candidates obtaining the certification. With opportunities in the international market and growing opportunities worldwide, investing in an ACCA certification is worth it.
  • Relevant Only in the Corporate Sector
ACCA is commonly believed to be worth pursuing for working in the corporate sector. This is not true. The knowledge and skills of an ACCA member can benefit even startup firms and small-scale businesses. The ACCA curriculum covers a vast portion of financial and business analysis and management which can be useful and used at any scale. This knowledge enriches an ACCA professional with in-depth knowledge of finance and accounting. The case study-based syllabus module helps ACCA students learn about the various business models and typical cases that occurred worldwide. This knowledge can help ACCA professionals transform their workplace and take it to the next level.
  • ACCA is Difficult
There are 13 papers in the ACCA exam divided into three sections Foundation Level, Professional Level, and Ethics Module. Out of these, candidates can avail some exemptions based on their level of education. Candidates with certain educational qualifications can avail of up to 9 papers exemptions. That leaves them with only four papers. This can be easily cleared in one exam session. Even if candidates cannot avail of exemptions, the ACCA curriculum can be completed within 18 months. 
Since ACCA is held semiannually, candidates can group 4 exams at a time and complete them within 15 months. Even if they take it slow, they can easily complete the exams in 18 months. With the flexible exam plans, candidates can take the ACCA exam any time throughout the year they want during the available exam windows. If you look at the global pass percentage of the ACCA exam, it is higher than most other professional certification exams. This gives a clear indication that it is, in fact, not at all difficult.
  • ACCA Exam Centers are Abroad
Since ACCA is not recognized in the USA, there may not be any testing centers available for US candidates. But that's not true for candidates from the rest of the world. ACCA has a network of 500+ testing centers in many important cities worldwide. Even in India, ACCA testing centers are in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Hyderabad, and so on. Candidates can choose a testing center based on their convenience.

FAQs

Q1. Is ACCA acceptable in the USA?
ACCA is not recognized in the USA; therefore, ACCA members have limited job opportunities in the USA. ACCA professionals are not accepted in the USA due to their lack of Licensure.
Q2. Is ACCA equivalent to CPA USA?
Regarding accounting certifications, ACCA and CPA USA can be considered comparable. However, to compare their relevance and credibility in the USA, ACCA certification has minimal value in the USA as they are not public accountants, nor do they possess Licensure for practicing public accounting. License for working as a public accountant in the USA can only be obtained through the US CPA as the curriculum is made by keeping the various needs of the US Federal Laws and local jurisdiction requirements in mind.
Q3. Which country does not accept ACCA?
ACCA is recognized and accepted in over 180 countries. ACCA-certified professionals have signing authority in over 90 countries around the world. The USA is one of the most prominent countries where ACCA is not recognized. 
Q4. Is ACCA Recognised in the USA and Canada?
ACCA is not recognized in the USA, but it is recognized in Canada. In fact, ACCA-certified professionals are in high demand in Canada.
Q5. Which country is best after ACCA?
The ACCA is a certification offered by the accounting body based in the UK; it has the most relevance and acceptance in the UK itself. Other than the UK, Dubai & Singapore are two of the best countries to opt for careers as an ACCA professional.
Q6. Which is better, US CMA or ACCA?
Several factors affect the popularity of one over the other. ACCA is more recognized than CMA and has more global acceptance than CMA. ACCA is definitely better than CMA. 
Q7. Is ACCA equal to a Bachelor's degree?
Internationally, ACCA is considered to be a bachelor's equivalent of accountancy. However, it cannot be called equal to a Bachelor's degree in India. ACCA is a professional certification that can be pursued alongside a bachelor's degree course.
Q8. Is ACCA better than CA?
ACCA can be completed within two years of enrolling for the exam, while it takes more than five years to complete the CA course. Although there are three levels of the ACCA course, the CA has a long list of 21 papers that can be opted for in groups of three, and failing one paper makes the student fail in the whole group. In the ACCA exam, students can take the exam one paper at a time or group up to four papers, failing one of which does not mean failing the whole group.

Conclusion

The ACCA certification undoubtedly gives a competitive edge to certified candidates over their non-certified counterparts. Although the ACCA is not recognized in the USA, there are over 180 countries where it is accepted and recognized, including India. Many of the top MNCs and accounting firms hire ACCA-certified individuals such as PwC, Deloitte, Grant Thornton, etc.
To begin your preparation for the ACCA certification course under the guidance of Irfat Sir, check out courses by NorthStar Academy, where you can get a comprehensive study plan and expert mentorship. Upon enrolling, you'll enjoy a wide range of benefits, from study material to revision kits following the appropriate ACCA curriculum, with NSA offering customized courses for candidates availing exemptions too.
With Bundle discounts and placement assistance, you get all the more reason to enroll in ACCA course at NSA. With an online class facility, you can ensure uninterrupted learning anytime, anywhere! Check out the ACCA courses at NorthStar Academy, or you can contact our counselors for more information!
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