CPAs and ACCAs

A while back somebody asked me about the ACCAs and CPAs and how they can be compared to the German system or how someone with these qualifications can integrate them into their German education. Well, first I have to say I’m not very “business studies” literate (never attended a business class in my life, not even in school), so I’m pretty clueless in most of the issues; so if you are well informed please feel free to “edit” the article, correct any mistakes (or just point out any utter rubbish) and/or send me an expert’s view of the whole issue.

After a bit of research from those with such qualifications, and those that may know more than I do, I found out a couple of things for those with such qualifications who would want to move to Germany or who are already here.
First of all you need to answer a few questions before you make a decision, and they are:
  • What are your career goals?
  • How long do you plan to stay in Germany?
  • Do you want to work with management or public (auditor or tax accountant) (Wirtschaftsprüfer WP or Steuerberater StB)?
  • How much time are you willing to put into this?
What most of the “experts” agreed upon is:

  1. You’ll eventually need to learn German even if you get your first job at an international company, especially for those that decide to become tax accountants.
  2. If you haven’t gotten the qualifications yet and would like to study for that here in Germany, your German must be impeccable considering some of those laws they learn are even hard for the Germans to understand due to the complexity of the language used to state them. The exams are offered only in German and the success rate in the exams is less than 50%. Despite the complexity of the exam though, the German qualification is only recognized in Germany and at best also in Austria, it’s not valued much in the rest of world.
  3. The ACCA is also more popular of a qualification when compared to CPA. Chartered accountants are becoming more popular than certified ones, that’s why ACCA members are more sort out, especially in multi-national companies cause it’s globally recognized and with the shift to IFRS usage for most of Europe, Africa…and even Canada. (I thought in Kenya people still do both, or at least most do the CPA first then the ACCA? Anyone who can clear this?) 
EDIT: A pal said to this, In Kenya guys who do CPA just stick to that. Some of the people who finish ACCAs are the ones who do CPAs afterwards because all you have to do is the Kenyan law and Tax papers ONLY and you are granted CPA 6 as well.
Some were of the opinion that if you do not plan to live in Germany for too long, then it doesn’t make any sense to actually go through the WP or StB to qualify to be an accountant in Germany as it requires too much energy and time, but has a very low success rate. If you are going to stay for long though, you should definitely improve your German because even if you don’t directly use the language at the office, most of your competition for jobs will definitely have it (it helps level the playing ground for you when searching for a job) and eventually do the WP or StB if you want to reach the managerial position.
It was also encouraged to get as much experience as possible, and focus less on the qualifications; apparently the qualifications do come with experience (I don’t know how that field works).
Also the world is moving towards using IFRS more (I bet if you are in this field you know what that means?). And incase you are wondering, you can take the ACCAs in Germanyas well. If you have a BA or MA in Finance or something similar you do get exemptions from some of the exams (I actually thought the whole time that the ACCA is a single exam, kumbe ni mingi? Ignore this aaahhaaa moment)
For those already with these qualifications, you got the choice of either moving to the Netherlands where language isn’t an issue (English is more widely used and accepted there) or staying here, improving your German, using your contacts and searching online/on newspapers etc for job offers and tailoring your CV to fit the many job offers. Also it’s worth researching about the Big4 (Deloitte, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young) as they are known although they aren’t the only ones that recognize the international qualifications anymore.
I hope the info helps. Anyone with anything to correct and/or add, feel free to add that in the comment box below. Any qualified accountant that can share their experiences and/or thoughts? Help me out, leave a comment in the comment box below or send me an email

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