Wisdom From Books

Studying Accountancy

An Article for those students who are in process of deciding about accountancy qualification

Introduction – Who are accountants?

So you are at the verge to decide what career to choose? Accountancy profession in Pakistan and elsewhere is generally considered to be monotonous, time consuming and ‘boring’ as compared to other professions like Engineering, Arts etc. Accountants are often projected as boring people with nothing to do except for talking in terms of numbers, facts and figures. This may however, be true in some circumstances, but may not hold true in totality.

One should understand that a few terms which are used interchangeably have different meanings. Accounts and finance are not one and the same thing. Book keeping is a different thing and financial analysis is another. When we talk about accounting, there are various levels of accounting, namely operational accounting which includes book keeping, day to day transaction tracking etc. Then we have financial management which is a higher level. In it, we learn about sources of funds, managing funds, manipulating funds and giving all stakeholders the maximum which could be earned out of their wealth. Investment accounting in itself is a whole world.

Chartered Accountancy

What are the areas which relate to accounting and you may study? The highest level of accounting degree in Pakistan is Chartered Accountancy or CA which has a combination of studies with four years of hands-on training in a Chartered Accountant firm. The Institute of Chartered Accountant of Pakistan is the governing body conducting its examination. Information may be obtained from their website at http://www.icap.org.pk. There are few chartered accountants in Pakistan not because it is difficult, but because of lack of awareness. People do not know about this profession, degree and the fact is that it is not as difficult as it is perceived to be.

Cost and management accountancy

Then we come across cost and management accountancy or commonly called, CMA. The Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan is the governing body conducting examination for this qualification. Their website is http://www.icmap.com.pk and all required information can be obtained from this website. The difference between this and CA is that CMA may be done without any mandatory training. You have to study, take exams and pass. Pass rates are generally lower and you may be surprised to know that there are more CAs in Pakistan than CMAs.

Post script note – addition by Mr. Tayyab Bajwa: One year work experience is mandatory to have CMA qualification.

In addition to it, final comprehensive examination based on two case studies is already in practice since 2006. Students are not able to get degree without passing comprehensive  exam, being taken after passing all stages.


Then we have two related foreign qualifications, namely ACCA and CIMA, both of UK origin. ACCA is a second tier degree in UK which stands for Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (website http://www.accaglobal.com). This is new for the Pakistani student and many students whom I know are moving to UK on the basis of getting admission in colleges of ACCA. This qualification can also be completed without any mandatory training, although ACCA requires at least three years post or pre-qualification work experience before awarding its membership. However, since it is an ‘internationally recognized qualification’, students prefer to go for it.

Finally we have CIMA. Chartered Institute of Management Accountants or which is also termed as CMA of UK (equivalent to CMA of Pakistan). Very few students go for CIMA qualification. Reason again being lack of awareness among the student cadres. In UK CIMA qualification is more related to decision making and those who do this are considered to be part of management who will help the higher management in decision-making. Their core paper includes a case study and this type of exam is missing in the three abovementioned qualifications. (website http://www.cimaglobal.com)


Life is becoming too fast these days. People need to get updated and upgraded with the passage of time. When deciding what to do and how to do, it is always advisable to develop skills. All the degrees are a way through which one can go towards a good career but I would advise one thing: Qualifications are not an end itself, these are means to an end. Unless they are applied in one’s life, they fizzle out. It is always good to obtain knowledge and as the saying goes: life is becoming so fast that in order to stand at your place, you have to run.

Therefore it is extremely important that qualifications/ degrees are not attained for the sake of degrees but for knowledge which will be applied in one’s organization. The CEO of Apple, the international computer makers, once remarked; “we do not hire smart people so that we have to tell them what to do, we hire smart people so that they tell us what to do.”

The article was published at http://www.accountancy.com.pk on July 24, 2003


19 Responses to "Studying Accountancy"

Yes, its true life is becoming too fast. It is better to keep updating to be on safer side.

i m a student in Pakistan, i really want to know whether to choose “CMA Pakistan” or “CIMA UK”. what should i choose to have competant and skilled career in Cost and Managment Accounting?

Which one is easy to pass? ACCA or CMA?

i am doing CA(PAK) from skanz rwp. plz tell me what strategy should adopt me for the best result and knowledge

Thanks Bilal – feel free to share it with others to add value to their lives.

dear sir,

I got admission in LSBF for acca. but my acca registration
is still under process from last five weeks. i don ‘t know
how much time they ‘ll take.

Thanks Bilal sahib for reading and posting your comment. In my view, contact ACCA’s local office. Alternatively, visit http://www.accaglobal.com and send them an email directly.

What documents r needed to study acca in uk.

What r the name of universities
offering acca study.

Wha t is the role of hec if a student want to go and study acca in uk.

Dear Hemant,
We are dealing with different institutes for ACCA, u tell us in which city u wanna go?
We will provide u 100% student visa
for details contact 03018493954

dear sir
i am doing ca and i have one paper remaining to become a ca intermediate . i have made three attempts in business communication and behavioral studies but i failed to pass it in these attempts any helpful suggestion from u as a chartered accountant

dear malik

My ACCA paper is not passed in four year plz advice

I want to enhance my qualification there is two option in my mind


Which one is comparatively easy and having good market value.



Dear Adnan – greetings. Thanks for visiting the blog and your comments / questions. It depends on where do you want to make your long term career i.e. which market would you be working after completion of qualificaiton. Secondly, importance of experience cannot be denied. There has to be certain experience to get ahead in professional life besides qualification. regards

Numbers and calculations are always part of our life. Accounting start from organizing numbers in a way to gauge outcome of efforts put in any activity.

One year work experience is mandatory to have CMA qualification.

In addition to it, final comprehensive examination based on two case studies is already in practice since 2006. Students are not able to get degree without passing comprehensive exam, being taken after passing all stages.

The title of this excellent writeup should be “accounting education”, and surely not “finance careers”.

In Pakistan, usually Chartered Accountants are the most highly paid in the accounting profession. It is these people who prefer to add CMA and other certifications like Chartered Secretary, etc. But to become a CA, a person has to take a big risk and there are many dropouts.

Point taken Fuzail Sahib – title will be changed. Thanks for your comments. Appreciate if you can read the other sections and share your experiences on ideas from various books being shared on the blog site.

What’s the definition of an accountant?

Someone who solves a problem you didn’t know you had in a way you don’t understand.

Laws of Accounting

1. Trial balances don’t
2. Bank reconciliations never do
3. Working Capital does not
4. Return on Investments never will

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