I am writing this in response to the answer by and ICAEW staff in the discussion "ACA vs ACCA" : http://www.ion.icaew.com/talkaccountancyforum/22442 , where certain benefits have been discussed regarding the ACA qualification over ACCA.
In the discussion "ACA vs ACCA" Suzanne Heath has stated that it takes 3 years to complete the ACA qualification on average. ACA qualification also focuses on development of ethics throughout the training period. Also the training is formalised and highly regulated which is one of the distinguishing features of ACA over ACCA. I have no doubt over the quality of the ACA qualification but I would like to highlight some severe problems faced by ICAEW students in Pakistan.
I myself am an ACCA finalist who will be attempting my final exam in Dec 2011. I recently registered with the ICAEW as an independent student and have been awarded exemptions for 10 Professional stage exam papers. I live in Pakistan and I am also facing a similar problem as any other student in my country.
From now on I will be paying the annual subscription fee, but there is no response from any of the approved training organisations registered with the ICAEW I have applied to, although I have an excellent academic record and 6 months experience in an audit firm as an ACCA Trainee. It is considered to be a miracle if someone gets the ICAEW training contract in Pakistan unless you personally know the senior partner at that firm or one of its big clients, but even if we get this contract, the firms pay us way less than the minimum wage in Pakistan i.e the minimum wage is Rs.8000/mnth whereas the firms here don't pay you more than Rs.6500/mnth. To top it all off one of the big 4 (Ernst & Young) pays its ICAEW trainees Rs.5000/mnth for the entire 3.5 year term of the contract. Just to put things in perspective, a house maid earns more than twice this amount.
I think that after putting so much time, money and effort into the ACA qualification, not being able to get a training contract that pays you almost half the minimum wage for 3.5 years of your life is a tragedy. How can this be a sign of proper regulation and high regard of ethics by ICAEW?
After considering all these facts I will be 27 years old (making it 7 years to qualify) till I finally give the case study exam and qualify as an ACA and start making money which I won't be embarrassed for me to tell people about. And that is only if I am lucky enough to even get this training contract with an approved training organisation.
I believe that it should be ICAEW's responsibility to make sure that all these students who invested so much in the ACA qualification at the very least get the training contract.
Please, don't mind my harsh language but it is what it is and I would be interested to know what I should do in this scenario and what are ICAEW's efforts regarding these problems faced by its students.