James logs in at 3 p.m., logs out at 5 p.m., logs back in at 9 p.m., and works until he feels like it. Since he's a night owl, he prefers working in the late afternoon until the wee hours of the morning.
However, he can easily switch work schedules whenever he wants — and that's the beauty of being a freelance accountant.
You, too, can become your own boss — set your own work schedule, pick your work, and choose your clients — by becoming a freelance accountant. Better yet, get some ACCA training in Dubai or wherever it is you might be based in and live the ultimate freelancer's dream.
The Freelance Accountant Dream
There are levels to freelance accounting as there are levels to almost everything.
At the top are freelancers who enjoy the following privileges:
- They get the crème de la crème of accounting projects.
- They get to choose from among high-paying, big-name clients.
- They can maximize their earnings per hour worked.
- They get to have as much free time as they want to spend on non-work matters.
Not everyone can have these privileges, of course. Not everyone can be highly paid, sought-after freelance accountants who can set their own terms.
Even so, you can aim to join their elite ranks by upskilling and upgrading your credentials. This is where an ACCA qualification comes in.
The ACCA Qualification
ACCA means Chartered Certified Accountant, much like CPA means Certified Public Accountant. Therefore, Chartered Certified Accountants can write ACCA after their name like John Doe, ACCA, in the same way Certified Public Accountants can write theirs John Doe, CPA.
ACCA is a trusted and internationally recognized designation. Companies know how rigorous the process for obtaining an ACCA designation is. Thus, hiring an ACCA-trained professional means getting someone who has proven technical knowledge and practical experience.
ACCA takes its name from the organization in charge of awarding and policing the designation, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
To earn the ACCA designation, you will need to pass the ACCA exams, accomplish the ethics and professional skills module, and complete 36 months or three years of practical, supervised experience in a relevant accounting or finance role.
There are 15 ACCA exams divided into three stages. You will need to take and pass 13 exams out of these 15; you will need to choose only two of the four available strategic professional options exams. However, if you have a relevant degree, you may claim exemptions for a few or several of the exams.
The following are the three ACCA exam stages:
The applied knowledge exams will help you learn finance basics and train you on accounting fundamentals.
The following are the three applied knowledge exams:
- Business and Technology
- Financial Accounting
- Management Accounting
The Applied Skills exams build upon your knowledge of finance and accounting to lay the groundwork for strategic accounting.
These are the specific applied skills exams:
- Corporate and Business Law
- Performance Management
- Financial reporting
- Audit and Assurance
- Financial Management
The strategic professional stage will hone your real-world accounting knowledge, introduce you to your specialization options, and help you become a fully strategic accounting and finance professional.
This stage has two categories:
Strategic Professional Essentials
There are two exams under the essentials category, and they are both required. They are the following:
- Strategic Business Leader
- Strategic Business Reporting
Strategic Professional Options
These exams will help you choose your specialization. You will need to choose only two of the four available options:
- Advanced Financial Management
- Advanced Performance Management
- Advanced Taxation
- Advanced Audit and Assurance
ACCA Ethics and Professional Skills Module
This is a 15-hour interactive module that will teach you advanced ethical, digital, and professional skills.
This, plus the applied knowledge exams, leads to an ACCA Diploma in Accounting and Business, an RQF Level 4 qualification. Accomplishing the applied skills exams will give you an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Business.
The practical experience component of an ACCA qualification is what makes the ACCA so valuable. Because of this requirement, an ACCA designation automatically tells potential clients that you have a minimum of three years of supervised, hands-on, practical experience.
If you are already employed in an accounting role or are already performing finance tasks, this should be easier to accomplish. Of course, you will need to be meticulous about recording your tasks and job experiences. Moreover, you will need to find a qualified supervisor or supervisors to sign off on your performance objectives.
Speaking of performance objectives, you will need to tick off five essential performance objectives and four technical objectives. To make completing this requirement easier, you should work with your supervisor so you can be given tasks that align with those objectives.
Why Become an ACCA?
There are many reasons why you want an ACCA designation. These two are the most important:
Tell them you're qualified without telling them you're qualified.
You know it can be tough to assess someone's skills just by the details written on his or her resume. Well, an ACCA designation is a shortcut that your potential clients can use to assess you.
Put another way, ACCA is your means of telling potential clients, at one glance, about your skill and competence, strategic and organization management training, and three years of minimum hands-on, practical experience. An ACCA trailing after your name is a good way of advertising your qualifications to potential clients.
Work anywhere in the world, for anyone in the world.
ACCA is an internationally recognized credential. This is a valuable credential for all accountants, especially those who would like to break into freelance accounting.
An ACCA designation will help you land clients no matter where you may be based and wherever your client may be located.
So, go on. You don't have to put a hold on, say, your application for an Antigua and Barbuda permanent residency. Become an ACCA freelance accountant, and you can work from virtually anywhere for virtually anyone.
Live the Dream
The life of a freelance accountant is not perfect, but it is fantastic on so many fronts. Imagine having the freedom to work anywhere, anytime, and the opportunity of picking projects and clients. If you want that life, you can start by becoming a Chartered Certified Accountant or an ACCA.