ACCA vs CFA - Key Differences, Syllabus, Job Opprtunities, Scope In India

ACCA or CFA? These are two critical questions raised in the mind of almost every commerce student. Both are excellent professions that can lead to tremendous growth and rewarding careers. That is where the similarities end, as both are very unalike. They require different skills, educational certifications and mindsets. Some commerce students may have the potential to do both but eventually end up choosing one. The ones who pick accounting can study for ACCA, CIMA, CA, US CPA and other qualifications. Finance hopefuls can opt for CFA, investment banking certification or an MBA in finance.

In this post, we take a deep dive into one of the most prestigious certifications in accounting and investment banking. In recent years, ACCA and CFA have proven to be two powerhouse courses that open up many opportunities within their respective industries. Both have set the benchmark for excellence in accounting and investment management. So, if you are confused between the two, keep reading to learn more through a detailed comparison of ACCA vs CFA.

What is ACCA?

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, or the ACCA, was set up in 1904 to create a high calibre of global accountants. Since then, the association has gathered over 241,000 members in nearly 180 countries.

What makes the ACCA unique? The syllabus is skilfully designed to incorporate business training, financial knowledge and accounting standards, keeping in mind the latest developments within the industry.

When you qualify as an ACCA professional, you are trained in financial and managerial accounting. You are ready to work in companies across the world and have the expertise to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing, complex corporate environment.

Here’s how an ACCA certification can help you:

  • You learn the latest knowledge, industry developments and updated skill sets.
  • The syllabus is a comprehensive study that covers all aspects of accounting such as taxation, business law, financial management, etc.
  • You get access to ACCA careers, an online portal that connects all ACCA-certified candidates to recruiters from prominent companies across the planet.
  • You are relevant in a new-age, digital-savvy world.
  • Your resume is in higher demand than your peers, and your salary reflects it.
  • Better opportunities are available for ACCA-qualified accountants.

Get 900+ hrs of offline ACCA coaching in your city

What is CFA?

The Chartered Financial Analyst program is an exceptional financial certification that has set the benchmark in investment management since 1962. CFA charter holders form an elite group of professionals who have the skills, knowledge and acumen to tackle the complexities of the investment banking industry.

There are more than 190,000 CFA holders from over 160 countries. They have raised the standard of financial services with their strong sense of ethics and professionalism. This distinctive qualification opens up a wide range of job profiles and prepares professionals for leadership roles within the industry.

Here’s how a CFA certification can help you:

  • You get a globally renowned qualification listed on your resume.
  • The course syllabus is an extensive study of various aspects of the investment and finance industry.
  • Opens up better prospects for your career in areas such as portfolio management, investment banking, financial analysis, etc.
  • It is also a good option for professionals who want to work as buy-side or sell-side traders.
  • Gain access to the CFA network of peers, professionals and industry leaders.

Get 200+ hrs of offline CFA Level 1 coaching in your city

ACCA vs CFA – a comparison of two certifications

Let’s take an analytical look into the many features of the two courses and how they differ from each other.

ACCA vs CFA: Syllabus details 



The course has three levels:

  • Applied Knowledge
  • Applied Skills
  • Strategic Professional 
The CFA program is divided into

  • Level 1
  • Level 2
  • Level 3
List of Subjects:

  • Business and Technology
  • Financial Accounting 
  • Management Accounting
  • Corporate and Business Law 
  • Taxation 
  • Financial Reporting 
  • Performance Management 
  • Financial Management 
  • Audit and Assurance
  • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
  • Strategic Business Leader (SBL)

Optional subjects (any two):

  • Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
  • Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)
  • Advanced Taxation (ATX)
  • Advanced Performance Management (APM)
List of Subjects:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Economics
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Corporate Issuers
  • Portfolio Management
  • Equity Investments
  • Fixed Income
  • Derivatives
  • Alternative Investments

Also Read – 7 Finance Courses after 12th | Complete Alongside Graduation

ACCA vs CFA: Course eligibility requirements 



  • Students must be 18 years or more to apply for the ACCA course.
  • All applicants must complete 10+2, with an average grade of 60 per cent in English and Maths, 50 per cent or more average grade in the remaining subjects.
  • Graduates, holding degrees such as B.Com, BMS and BBA, can also apply.
  • Candidates should hold a bachelor’s degree or graduate by the time they sit for the Level 3 exam. 
  • Professionals with a minimum four years of work experience in a relevant field can also apply.
  • A valid passport is requirement for the CFA exams.

Also Read – How to build a career in finance industry

ACCA vs CFA: job profiles 



Certified professionals can work in the accounting industry in the following roles:

  • Management accountant
  • Financial accountant 
  • Financial controller
  • Tax consultant
  • Corporate finance
  • Financial advisor
  • Internal auditor 
  • Business analyst
Certified professionals can work in the investment banking and finance industry in the following roles:

  • Investment banker
  • Financial Analyst
  • Portfolio manager
  • Equity research analyst 
  • Risk analyst 
  • Credit analyst 
  • Consultant 
  • Wealth manager 

Also Read – Top 5 Foreign Accounting Courses That Can Make You Rich and Respectable!

ACCA vs CFA: job opportunities 



Many leading companies in the world, and also in India, are known to hire ACCA-certified accountants.

Some of them are:

  • Deloitte 
  • Grant Thornton India
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • EY
  • HSBC
  • Accenture 
  • JP Morgan
  • Credit Suisse
CFA-certified candidates are more likely to work with renowned companies such as:

  • Goldman Sachs
  • HDFC Bank
  • Bajaj Finance 
  • Citigroup
  • Deloitte
  • PwC
  • Barclays 
  • Kotak Mahindra Bank
  • ICICI Bank 
  • Morningstar 
  • KPMG

ACCA vs CFA: salary expectations



The salaries for ACCA professionals vary, depending on the job profile

  • Freshers earn an annual salary of Rs 7 lakhs a year.
  • Professionals with 5-7 years of experience make over Rs 11 lakhs annually.
  • Senior experts receive over Rs 20 lakhs per annum.
  • Freshers can earn an annual salary of Rs 6 to Rs 7 lakhs, depending on their job designation. 
  • Professionals with 5-7 years of experience make over Rs 12 lakhs a year.
  • Senior experts receive over Rs 35 lakhs per annum. 

Also Read – Top 7 Skills That Make You An Expert In Finance

ACCA vs CFA: prominent professionals



  • Akash Rakyan, Head of Financial Reporting, HSBC
  • Gaurav Sarin, SVP, HSBC
  • Neethu Kumar, Senior Solution Advisor, Internal Audit & Assurance, Deloitte India
  • Saurabh Mukherjea, founder & chief investment officer, Marcellus Investment Managers
  • Pravin Jain, AVP Fixed Income, HDFC AMC
  • Navneet Munot, CEO & MD, HDFC Mutual Funds

Why Proschool is the leading institute for ACCA and CFA

What do these two diverse yet lucrative certifications have in common? You can study the ACCA and CFA courses with one of India’s leading coaching institutes.

IMS Proschool is known for providing quality educational resources and facilities that enhance the learning experience for all students. Experienced and established professionals from the industry teach the ACCA and CFA courses. Since both certifications have a rigorous and detailed curriculum, the professors simplify concepts and help students understand the connections between financial theory and real-world applications. They use innovative learning methods and hands-on training techniques to explain the subject material better.

Benefits of studying with Proschool:

  • Proschool has created the Global Professional Accountant Course (GPA) that teaches the ACCA syllabus, interpersonal skills and financial modelling.
  • The CFA course is taught by industry specialists using a progressive teaching methodology.
  • Teachers offer doubt-clearing sessions, personalised attention and mentorship for both courses.
  • Students taking either course can also avail additional resources such as practice papers, mock tests, study prep books and learning videos.
  • Proschool has an in-house placement portal for students of all courses, including ACCA and CFA.
  • The institute also helps with personal skills such as professional communication, interview etiquette and resume writing.


Is ACCA more difficult than CFA?

While the difficulty level is subjective, when it comes to ACCA vs CFA, many students do believe that the CFA course is tougher to clear than ACCA. This is due to the intense subject material, examination structure and complex concepts. The ACCA course has its own set of challenges, but the exam exemptions (for certain qualified professionals) and flexible exam format make it a bit more manageable than the CFA.

Who earns more — ACCA or CFA?

Whether ACCA or CFA, the exact salary packages will always depend on specific details such as location, company, job profile and negotiation skills. In top-level companies, CFA professionals tend to command a slightly higher earning potential than their ACCA counterparts. However, there is enough evidence to suggest both certifications lead to lucrative careers.

Is it worth doing the CFA course after ACCA?

Yes, you can do the CFA after ACCA. The two qualifications will give you a unique perspective and expertise, making you a viable candidate in finance profiles such as risk manager, asset manager, corporate banking and consulting roles. It is taxing to do both, so make sure you are mentally prepared and fully committed to this task.

How to select the best course for me: ACCA or CFA?

It has been established that the CFA and ACCA certifications can lead to rewarding careers in the finance industry. You need to pick the course that matches your aptitude, skills, inclination and interests. You can speak to someone from the industry, your peers doing one of the programs or even a coaching institute like IMS Proschool who can guide you to make the right choice.


As a commerce student, you may have been debating the pros and cons of choosing ACCA or CFA. Both certifications can lead to excellent job opportunities. Both are internationally recognised and have created a network of like-minded professionals. The ACCA course represents the future of accounting, while the CFA program has set the standard for investment banking services. So whichever path you pursue, you are sure to head towards a successful career.