Historically, the development of the accounting was a long and complicated process in which many countries made positive contribution. Romans are considered as the pioneers in the accounting using forms of bookkeeping and profit calculation. Later, the evolution in the arithmetic and bookkeeping in the Muslim world paved the way for future progress. The first time of using double-entry book system was introduced in the fourteen and fifteen centuries in Italy where the Italian city states were dominants in the commerce. In the nineteen century, however, Britain took the leadership in the accounting matters, followed by the United States in the next century. As a result, English has become the official accounting language.
As stated by Norbes &Parker (2002, p.140) Britain was the first country in the world which developed the accountancy profession with the establishment from the 1850s of the nowadays professional institutions. The "qualified" accountants in the UK are members of the six professional accountancy bodies. The process of becoming a member of one of these institutions requires passing a large number of extremely technically demanding examinations and completion of three years 'practical trainings.
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In this essay, four of the main present accounting institutions in the UK will be presented, compared and contrasted. As a result of this comparison, one of them would be chosen as the best opportunity for a prospective student for a worthwhile career path.
In general, there are two main reasons for selecting this topic as a matter of an essay discussion. First of them is the fact that I am a second year student in a bachelor degree in International Finance and Trade. Basically, this is fair enough for an interest in such a topic as it is tightly connected with my sphere of education. Secondly, I have certain plans for my future career after my bachelor degree- specializing in accounting disciplines and therefore getting specific certificates and becoming a member of one of the accounting bodies.
The most famous UK accountancy body is the Association of Chartered Qualified Accountants (ACCA). Founded in 1904, theÂ ACCA is the global body for professional accountancy and as of April 2010Â it is one of the largest and fastest-growing global accountancy bodies with 147,000 members and 424,000 students.
The ACCA Qualification develops accounting knowledge and skills as well as professional values- a precondition for a successful career as a finance professional in any sector. Professionalism and ethics is examined at the highest level in the ACCA Qualification. It is also a main part of the practical experience you must complete to qualify. This is essential because the profession is moving towards strengthened codes of conduct, regulation and legislation. ("The ACCA Qualification is your route to professional status, 2011)
According to this article ("All you need to know about ACCA online courses", 2011) the ACCA qualification is well recognised in an ever-growing list of countries including the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Plates, Singapore, Malaysia and Pakistan.
The main aims of the ACCA include supporting businesses to grow by developing their finance capability and enhancing their brand reputation and working with governments, regulators, professional bodies and employers to develop the global accountancy profession and to act in the public interest. ("Why choose ACCA", 2011)
Secondly mentioned, TheÂ Chartered Institute of Public Finance and AccountancyÂ (CIPFA) is a professional institute forÂ accountantsÂ working in theÂ public services. It is responsible for the education and training of professional accountants and for their regulation through the setting and monitoring of professional standards.("About CIPFA", 2011) The fourteen thousands members of CIPFA work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies and provides a variety of advisory, information, and consulting services to public service organisations. Some of examples of global firms which are employing CIPFA members: as KPMG, PKF, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Grant Thornton. ("Make a difference with a career that counts" ,2011).
Undoubtedly, CIPFA provides very promising career prospects for its members and students. Many CIPFA students find their career progresses very quickly. With their new skills, many are promoted before they qualify and on completion go onto greater and bigger things. It would not be exaggerated to be stated that the majority of finance directors in local government and the NHS are CIPFA members because the qualification has given them the skills and insights to reach the very top. ("Definition of CIPFA" ,2011)
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Moreover, many employers are supporting students whilst they are studying, seeing it as valuable training for their employees' career development. It is common to offer time off to study and cover some if not all of the costs of the qualification.
Thirdly presented, theÂ Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales established by a Royal Charter in 1880. According to ("About ICAEW", 2011) ICAEW is a professional membership organisation with over 136,000 chartered accountants and about 9,000 students worldwide. Many members of ICAEW work in the local government and concept of value for money is becoming a key feature of their work. (Elliot& Elliot, 2005, p.801)
Through its technical knowledge, skills and expertise, it provides leadership to the global accountancy and finance profession. The members of ICAEW are highly valued as providing financial guidance based on the highest technical and ethical standards. The main aim ICAEW could be regarded as developing and supporting individuals, organisations and communities to help them achieve long-term, sustainable economic value.
What is more, ICAEW is committed to developing the knowledge and skills of finance professionals around the world. Its approach to learning and professional development ensures individuals gain the right experience and expertise they need to reach their full potential. ("Benefits of obtaining ACA qualification" ,2011).
The Chartered qualification, awarded by the ICAEW, is one of the leading finance and business qualifications in the world. Definitely, this highly valued qualification: opens doors for job opportunities at a local and international level; allows specialization in some technical aspects of accountancy such as corporate finance, taxation, corporate recovery, forensic accountancy; a very good foundation for leading private sector, public sector or not-for-profit organisations; even very appropriate for successfully establishing own company.
As said in ("Become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant", 2011) ICAEW Chartered Accountants work at the highest levels as finance directors, CEO's and partners of some of the world's largest organisations.
Lastly represented, The InstituteÂ of CharteredÂ AccountantsÂ ManagementÂ (CIMA)Â was establishedÂ in 1919.Â TodayÂ the organisation isÂ internationally recognizedÂ with overÂ 171,000 studentsÂ inÂ 165 countries as an instituteÂ that contributes toÂ the development of management accounting.("About CIMA", 2011)Management accounting combines accounting, finance and management with the leading edge techniques needed to drive successful businesses. ("What is management accounting?", 2011)
Chartered Management Accountants (qualified members of CIMA) receive their practical training in industrial and commercial environments, and in the public sector. The mission of CIMA is to be the first choice for employers in qualifying and developing management accountants. Values of the organisation prompt its members to be: customer focused, accountable, open, innovative and professional. ("Our mission and values", 2011)
Chartered management accountants possess a lot of "features" in their profile. They are supposed to advise managers about the financial implications of projects, explain the financial consequences of business decisions, formulate business strategy, monitor spending and financial control, conduct internal business audits and explain the impact of the competitive landscape.
A critical comparison of these bodies (Jones, 2002, p.14) from the point of view of a prospective student should mainly include the working position its members occupy. ACCA's members work both in the public and private sector as auditors and financial accountants. Some of them never work in the public sector. CIMA's members work in variety of industries - from steel production to high tech and their mainly task is to perform the management accounting. ICAEW's members could successfully specialize in corporate finance, taxation, corporate recovery, forensic accountancy and many of them work as high level finance directors and partners in big companies. CIPFA's members work mainly in the public sector or newly privatised industries as performing wide range of financial activities- for example budgeting in the local government.
As to conclude, undoubtedly being a member of ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA or ICAEW is a matter of high prestige and professional acknowledgment. It would be a hard decision to choose one of them as a "best option" for prospective students. However, I would express my personal opinion in favour of the Association of Chartered Qualified Accountants (ACCA).There are enough reasons which supports the idea the ACCA qualification is a perfect contribution to a future career path. First of them, the ACCA qualification is a very well known and globally recognized qualification. This opens the door for many future prospects for professional development locally or at an international level. Secondly, the ACCA is highly respected institution with a focus on professional values, ethics and governance - a perfect atmosphere for development of a young specialist. Third but not last, concerning my colleagues from Bulgaria, ACCA has now a branch in Romania which is responsible for Bulgaria- opportunity for easier integration in the association.
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Once you take the ACCA official recognition, your clients know with certainty that they can depend on your integrity, knowledge and expertise, the fact that you operate surrounded by an austere framework of policy and ethics.