Letters of the law.

Author:Campbell, Oliver

In no way would I wish to deter ACMAs from becoming FCMAs, but I do doubt whether it provides any real benefit when getting a job. I spent 22 years with Shell, where staff underwent a yearly performance evaluation, and at no time can I recall my superiors mentioning my qualifications. An accountancy qualification is an entry into a company. Once you are working there your promotion depends on merit.

Qualifications regain some significance when you change jobs. But many will find, as I did, that employers are far more interested in your achievements and in previous posts. This means they will not be concerned about whether you are an ACMA or an FCMA, even if they understand the distinction between the two, which is doubtful.

When marketing yourself, as in marketing any product, the important factor is differentiation--ie, showing how you differ from all the other applicants. In this respect, you use your own unique experience as a selling point. However, having another qualification is a definite plus point and, if you can find the time to acquire one, such as an MBA, this will be much more useful than upgrading from ACMA to FCMA.

Let me be quite clear: I would not trade my ACMA for any other qualification. It is much harder to pass these exams than it is to pass an MBA. But, although an MBA may have lost some of its lustre, it still has the advantage that it is much broader in its scope. My MBA involved marketing, personnel management and management philosophy. The study of such non-financial subjects provides the greater business awareness, which employers value.

Most ACMAs with 10 years' service will have the experience necessary for fellowship, whether they apply for it or not. For potential employers, it is this experience that counts rather than the title.

Until recently, I hadn't realised that it is necessary to be an FCMA to become a member of council...

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