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ACA, ACCA, CA, CPA, CIMA: which accounting qualification will get you a job in Singapore finance?

Accounting qualification Singapore job

You’re looking to start an accounting qualification that will get you a job or advance your career in the Singapore financial services sector. Which one should you choose?

We’ve searched through our CV database to find candidates in Singapore who work in accounting jobs and who have a mainstream accounting designation (ACA, ACCA, CA, CPA, CIMA) – and we’ve worked out the proportion of people holding each one. The chart below shows which qualifications are the most popular in Singapore.

At 39%, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification is the most common in Singapore. The city state is an international hub for accounting talent and ACCA is among the more globally recognised accounting qualifications.

ACCA works with 170 “approved employers” in the city state, including the Big Four and banks such as Barclays, Credit Suisse, DBS, HSBC and UOB, says Reuter Chua, head of ACCA Singapore. It’s also targeting local tertiary institutions. In 2014 it signed an agreement with Nanyang Polytechnic to allow accountancy diploma students to work towards acquiring the qualification even before they graduate.

Many people starting their accounting careers in Singapore, however, first obtain the CA Singapore, run by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA). The qualification (rebranded from the CPA Singapore in 2013, with local CPA holders automatically given the new designation) is held by 18% of Singapore accountants on our database.

“Singapore CA candidates are very transferable across all accounting functions in banking in Singapore – as are people with international CPAs,” says Bien Law, a senior finance consultant at recruiters Eames Consulting Group in Singapore.

The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualification is a common route into the Big Four in Singapore. Accountants in the Republic hold CPAs from a number of foreign markets, in particular Australia (16% of the overall total), a country that is both a source of expat talent and a popular destination for Singaporean students.

Only 5% of CVs on our database in Singapore have the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification, reflecting the more specialised nature of management accounting.

And 3% have the ACA, awarded by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). “It’s obviously a good qualification, but in Asia it’s not seen as so international as the ACCA and is mainly held by people who studied in the UK,” says a Singapore-based finance recruiter who asked not to be named.

The number of accountants with both local and global qualifications in Singapore looks set to rise. Over the thee years ISCA has signed agreements with ICAEW, ACCA and CIMA to give its members fast-track access to international qualifications in addition to their CA Singapore.


Image credit: TerryJ, Getty

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