The stereotype of professional accountants is that they are boring. Lower pass rates and tedious subject matter, where students juggle numbers, have made many opt out. The prospects of national and global employment and an appealing salary have, however, attracted many hard working and dedicated students to accountancy.

The UK Chartered Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a global professional body that provides authorised 3-4 years course in 178 countries. The British Council held the first ACCA exam in Nepal way back in 1977 with just one student. In 2004 Nepali colleges started offering ACCA qualification, and an ACCA Nepal Head was appointed in 2014. Demand grew after that, with the number of ACCA students rising to 2,700 in 2018.

“After moving towards federalism, Nepal has great potential for economic growth. This means banks, financial institutions and businesses have started reaching out to many parts of the country. The demand for local experts is increasing, creating job prospects for ACCAs,” explains Rabin Katwal, ACCA Nepal Head (left).

Nepal makes up a very small percentage of the total 200,000 ACCA members and 480,000 students globally, but Nepali students and working members have been making a mark, says Katwal.

In 2017, Rejika Maharjan, a student from The British College, topped the P3 Business Analysis Professional Association of Chartered Certified Accountants paper, ranking her number one in the world. Out of around 600 ACCA Nepali members, over 100 are working in Canada, Australia, West Asia and Europe. Since ACCA is a global qualification, the job prospects give global mobility to its members from any part of the world.

The ACCA course includes 13 papers on Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills and Strategic Professional levels, integrating ICT, AI, digital learning and strategic business leadership. Students also need to gain 3 years of experience in either accounts, finance, audit, management, business consultancy, taxation, corporate governance, marketing or financial reporting. They need to also complete 20 hours of online training on Ethics and Professional Skills Modules to have full membership. 

In the case of audit practice in Nepal, every professional accountants, including ACCA, needs to go through exams of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal (ICAN). Even though ICAN is a qualifying body, it also regulates the profession, unlike in other countries.

ACCA in Nepal does not yet include Nepal’s tax system and regulations. That gap, however, has been bridged by colleges offering ACCA courses, by providing training and knowledge periodically. The British College, National College of Accountancy, CCA School of Accountancy and Sunway International Business School provide ACCA courses currently.

Because of the lengthy process of qualifying and obtaining ACCA Membership, many students tend to opt out in the middle of the course. Katwal, an ACCA member himself, believes hard work, dedication and continuity is all that is necessary, as ACCA is one field of study that has an objective marking system.

And for those who believe accountancy is uninteresting, Katwal responds by saying: “Skills demanded for professional accountants will be completely different in the future: mundane calculation will be automated. So ACCAs need to fulfill roles in communication, leadership, and complex decision-making, which cannot be solved with AI. This will never be boring.”

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