Accountancy is an extremely dynamic field that has evolved from the simple book-keeping of company finances to taking on the role of consultant and advisor for companies in an ever-changing financial landscape. While there are many professional accountancy bodies in the world, one of the oldest and most respected organisations is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW), which offers the prestigious ICAEW chartered accountancy qualification, the ICAEW ACA.
We recently spoke with Felix Chong, one of ICAEW’s 154,000 members globally. He is currently an Audit Manager at Grant Thornton Singapore. He shared his fascinating perspectives on why he decided to pursue the ICAEW ACA, despite already holding another professional qualification. Felix also describes his rewarding experience working with a leading employer as part of his ACA training and how it prepared him to adapt to his new posting in the US.
1. The ICAEW ACA is a highly recognised professional qualification with deep historical roots in accountancy
Before I pursued the ICAEW ACA, I was already a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA). However, I still wanted to obtain the ICAEW ACA because it is highly respected by leading employers around the world. ICAEW also has rich history in the world of accounting. For example, the founding fathers of the Big Four accountancy firms were all presidents of ICAEW, which speaks to ICAEW’s high relevance to the business landscape.
Today, 83 of the 100 top companies ranked by the UK Financial Times Stock Exchange have at least one ICAEW ACA sitting on their board of directors, which highlights ICAEW members’ ability to lead in large organisations. In addition, ICAEW’s core standards align with my own ethical values, which I think are important especially when accountants deal with stakeholders. Ethical behaviour in accounting plays a vital role, as we need to ensure public trust when we conduct our roles regarding financial reporting and business practices.
2. Gaining practical work experience with leading employers has equipped me with key knowledge of the business landscape
I took up a three-year work experience with Grant Thornton as part of ICAEW’s official partnership with reputable companies known as Authorised Training Employers (ATEs). The practical work exposure enabled me to hone my knowledge of technical skills in a real-world environment alongside some of the most impressive business leaders I have met. As a result, I had the opportunity to gain deep financial insights and at the same time develop my skills as I led several projects as a young leader.
Besides the professional aspect of my training, one organisational trait I truly cherished was that Grant Thornton cultivated a culture of camaraderie and friendship. I was fortunate to have an exemplary mentor, Tim Braun, who has looked out for me these past 7 years. To help me balance between my work and family commitments during my ACA studies, Grant Thornton also supported me with off-days to study.
With reference to my studies, I was able to reduce the amount of time needed to obtain the ICAEW ACA. This is due to the fact that I had previously obtained the ACCA qualification, which granted me 12 credits for prior learning and exempted me from taking certain papers.
3. My ACA journey has empowered me to excel in a global work environment
Recently, I was re-located to San Jose in America as part of my work with Grant Thornton. I am gaining new perspectives and working with new people in an international environment, and simultaneously being exposed to state-of-the-art technologies and innovative work processes in complex global-scale projects.
While my new role offers a very different experience, I am fortunate to have learned from my ACA training how to adapt and respond rapidly to different challenges and scenarios. There is no doubt that my training as an ICAEW chartered accountant put me through a robust process of learning and taught me to be more resourceful. As Tim puts it, “Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor.”
On top of preparing me to excel in a dynamic work environment in San Jose, being an ICAEW member means that I have access to a global network of over 154,000 chartered accountants. Hence, I have been able to meet like-minded individuals who share similar passions, as well as amazing friends and mentors – both in the US and back in Singapore.
Ready to Embark on an Exciting Journey to a Truly Global Career in Accountancy like Felix? Learn more about the ICAEW ACA and how to apply!
If you’re considering kick-starting an exciting career journey with the ICAEW ACA to realise your professional career aspirations like Felix, contact ICAEW South-East Asia via:
It’s worth noting that you do not actually need an accounting background to study the ICAEW ACA.