#CareerBytes: What is the difference between ICAI's ACA and FCA?
Chartered Accountancy (CA) is one of the most sought-after professions in the country. Many aspire to become Chartered Accountants as Chartered Accountancy is a respected and rewarding career. In India, Chartered Accountants are members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). There are two types of ICAI memberships for CAs: ACA and FCA. Here are the differences between ACA and FCA.
In India, the Chartered Accountancy program is offered by the ICAI - the CA authority of the country which conceptualizes, manages, and conducts exams for CAs. The course basically consists of three levels of examination: CA Foundation, Intermediate, and Final. The minimum eligibility to pursue the CA course is 10+2 examination (or equivalent) in any stream from a recognized education board.
After completing Class-12, one can register for and clear the Foundation level followed by Intermediate, three-year Articleship, and then the Final level exam to become a CA. However, those who have finished graduation can directly enroll for CA Intermediate. The minimum duration of the CA course after Class-12 (Foundation route) is four-and-a-half years; after graduation (Direct Entry Scheme), the minimum duration is three years.
Coming to the ICAI memberships, a candidate is required to pass all three levels of the CA program and the mandatory Articleship and also meet several other requirements to become a member of the Institute. Members of the ICAI can either be an Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) or a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) based on their experience.
After clearing CA Final, candidates become eligible to be called as Chartered Accountants only after registering for the Associate Membership of the ICAI. Members of the ICAI who have less than five years of experience are referred to as the Associate Chartered Accountants (ACAs).
ACAs who have been in continuous practice for five years are eligible for ICAI's Fellow Membership. They are called Fellow Chartered Accountants (FCAs). ACAs who have been in government service, or carrying out duties related to accounts, audit, finance, taxation, etc. at certain organizations, or have been in continuous service as full-time paid assistants under CAs/CA firms for five years are also eligible.
While the responsibilities and voting rights of both ACAs and FCAs are the same, only FCAs can get elected to the ICAI's Council and Regional Councils. Also, FCAs typically enjoy a higher status because they have more professional experience and expertise.