Foundations in Accountancy is NOT just a new certification instead it is a whole new suit of qualifications all set to include Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) under its umbrella. This whole suit is subdivided into three certificates and a diploma.
So here we are with yet another innovation of “ACCA LABS”, Foundations in Accountancy (FIA). Though in the words of ACCA the whole purpose of introducing FIA suit of “qualifications” is to ensure compatibility of ACCA academic offerings in line with ever changing accountancy and business environment but before we really accept it as new, let’s see what it really is and how new it is.
What is Foundations in Accountancy (FIA)?
First of all please do not confuse FIA as a new certificate, it’s a suit. Meaning, if you are doing FIA you will earn more than one certificate until you reach the end. It should not be taken as a replacement of CAT qualification instead CAT qualification is now going to be part of much broader and much more flexible suit of qualifications i.e. FIA. So, in simple terms, previously you were doing just one certification (CAT) but now you will get more than just a single CAT certification. Thus, FIA is more rewarding than CAT and under FIA students will be getting two additional certificates and a diploma.
However, the implementation of this new suit came with few important changes around it and how this suit is connected with ACCA as compared to CAT qualification.
Changes in Syllabus – as compared to CAT and MSER
Few of the obvious questions in the minds of students are, “Is it difficult?” “How many papers does it have?” “Will I have to start all over again from the beginning?”
Well, ACCA knew about these concerns and thus made the suit of qualifications even lovelier by giving them just what they wanted i.e. more flexible, more easy to follow and more practical.
Good news is there is nothing much to be worried about. Transition from CAT to FIA or from MSER to FIA is very smooth.
Let’s have a look to understand where FIA stands and how each subject of CAT and ACCA is matched with FIA subjects.
Arrows represent migration process
As you can see in the above picture FIA also have 10 subjects, as was the case in CAT. And all of the CAT subjects are now considered as worthy of given credit in a certain FIA subject. For example, if you have done T1 and T2 then you will be awarded exemption in FA1 and MA1 and will automatically be transferred to Intermediate certificate in Accounting and Business.
One of the important things to note in FIA is previous T5, T6 and T7 are now FAB, FFA and FMA respectively which basically share exactly the same syllabus as F1, F3 and F2 respectively.
That is why if students take admission directly in Diploma in Accounting and Business and complete it, they will be awarded exemption in ACCA for the first 3 papers as students were studying the same subjects under FIA. That’s why ACCA said, there is no need for MSER anymore. Read on to know more.
Changes in ACCA entry requirements
FIA (new CAT) – Anyone, anytime, anyplace!
As it was the case with previous CAT qualification almost anyone was allowed to register for CAT, the same has been carried forward to FIA also. But that is not all; previously if students were registered for CAT they usually had to follow a certain stream to go through “all the papers. For instance, CAT qualification is divided in three stages i.e. Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced. It was not possible for student register straight for the advanced stage skipping Introductory and Intermediate stage. But now students can register in FIA at any stage. FIA suit is divided into four parts:
- Introductory certificate
- Intermediate Certificate
Student now have the option to register for Diploma straight skipping introductory and intermediate certificate stage.
ACCA – You got to have MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS fulfilled!
Previously, if the students were aged 21 or above they were able to enter ACCA qualification on no question asked basis i.e. even without any prior academic requirements through Mature Student Entry Route (MSER). But now MSER route has been terminated and if students wish to enter ACCA directly then they have to have 2 A levels and 3 GCSEs or equivalent otherwise they have to start FIA before they can start ACCA qualification.
So does it mean ACCA has ignored the future MSER students? Naaah!… Read on to understand how ACCA has not forgotten the MSER completely.
Understanding the Transitional phase and conversion from CAT to FIA
In February 2011 existing students of CAT qualification i.e. who are already registered under CAT will receive a notification from ACCA briefing about new suit of qualifications i.e. FIA.
In this notification, that will accompany the December 2010 results due to be released by the end of February 2011 month, ACCA will ask students whether they want to transfer to ACCA register on completion of T5, T6 and T7 or they want to stay in the same register and transfer to FIA where they can complete CAT certification by giving additional 2 more optional papers.
If the above description is hard to grasp then let me put it points so that you can easily understand what is going to happen when.
- By last week of February the results of 2010 exams will be announced for CAT and ACCA qualifications.
- With December 2010 results, existing CAT students will receive a notification about introduction of new suit of qualifications with the name FIA that will be effective by the end of August 2011.
- Remember that CAT qualification will be effective and present until June 2011 exams and conversion from CAT to FIA or from CAT to ACCA will depend on the results of students that they are going to score in June 2011 exams. I repeat your credit or exemptions in FIA or ACCA qualification will be determined according to the papers you will have passed after June 2011 exams.
- In the notification, mentioned in point 2 above, students will be asked one important question i.e. whether they want to transfer to ACCA register (whether they want to transfer to ACCA qualification straight) on the completion of T5, T6 and T7 papers (or their equivalents i.e. TT5, TT6 and TT7) or they want to continue to pursue CAT certification. In case students select to transfer to ACCA register then he will resume the studies from ACCA F4 whereas if student selects to pursue CAT certification then he will give two optional papers under FIA.
- To understand more about TT5 TT6 and TT7 and the applicable syllabus for these subjects read the answer in the FAQs as follows.
Frequently Asked Questions – CAT and FIA
Many of the students are already asking me questions about Foundations in Accountancy because of different confusions surrounding it and also our support department reported that numerous students came up with different questions so let’s discuss, some of the questions which were asked repeatedly, right here.
“IS FIA GOING TO BE MORE DIFFICULT THEN CAT?”
To my mind first four papers of FIA i.e. FA1, MA1, FA2 and MA2, have the same level of difficulty as T1, T2, T3 and T4 had with almost same syllabus, though it has been updated but it is not that big deal to be honest.
However, FAB, FFA and FMA (which are the new T5, T6 and T7) are far easier than their predecessor because of two reasons.
Firstly, the exam basis has been changed. Previously, under CAT, these papers used to paper based, but now students will be able to sit in these exams under computer based examination system. Especially T7 paper which is now FMA, used to be really tough one.
So overall, things have become easier fellows! So, don’t worry
“How long on average one can take to complete Foundations in Accountancy (FIA)?”
In order to do ALL the qualifications under Foundations in Accountancy (FIA), a new suit of qualifications being offered by ACCA, you have to sit in exams for 9 papers. So it will be taking almost the same time as CAT.
However, if you are not doing FIA completely and doing only the selected qualifications under FIA then it depends on the student.
Introductory level certificate contains 2 papers and are CBE based so student can sit these exams in one attempt for which student might need 3 months to prepare.
Intermediate level certificate contains 2 papers and are CBE based so student can sit these exams in one attempt for which student might need 3 months to prepare.
Diploma contains 3 papers and are CBE for which students might need 4 months to prepare.
Lastly, to do the last 3 optional papers student might need 6 months to prepare.
Now you can add up the timings to see how much time it will take. Remember, the times given are only for information purposes to get an idea about it and can be different for different students.
“What are transitional papers TT5 TT6 and TT7?”
As we all know that FIA move over will complete by the end of August for existing CAT students i.e. all current CAT students will be transferred to new suit of qualifications – Foundations in Accountancy (FIA).
Since January 1, 2011 the registration under CAT qualification has been closed and now those students who do not qualify for direct ACCA entry or want to do entry level certification first will be registered under FIA instead of CAT. Therefore, if you are registered by/after January 01, 2011 then you are registered under FIA.
Now the ones who are registered under FIA in first place (the ones registered by/after January 01, 2011) will see TT5, TT6 and TT7 in their accounts.
Before we understand these subjects let’s understand the scenario itself and it will surely clear up all the doubts.
Under CAT qualification, students had the option to sit in CBE style exams only for first four papers i.e. T1 through T4. But under new scheme (FIA), students can give first 7 papers under CBE based exams.
Now the problem is FIA exams will take place in first week of December 2011 and not before. So ACCA has arranged interim arrangements and TT5 TT6 and TT7 are basically transitional subjects and are NOT the same as FIA’s FAB, FFA and FMA. These are basically current ACCA F1, F3 and F2 respectively.
The thing to understand why there is no transitional arrangement or syllabus for the last papers is that as FIA students are registered after December 2010 therefore they are not eligible to sit in paper based exams by June 2011. And as by December 2011 everything will be shifted to FIA so by that time their own syllabi will be effective thus no need to worry about interim arrangements for these subjects for June 2011 session.
Lastly, as you understood that current syllabus of CAT and ACCA is being employed for FIA subjects therefore you can use the corresponding books to prepare FIA subjects. For example for TT5 you can use the book of ACCA F1 according to current syllabus.
In other words December 2010 books of all the above mentioned subjects are good until November 2011.
For me the most important thing is how this transition will affect existing students of CAT qualification as this is really important and large number of existing CAT qualification is confused about whether they will be sitting in transitional papers or normal papers i.e. whether one will sit for TT5, TT6, TT7 or T5 T6 and T7 as the syllabi of transitional papers and normal papers are different.
AS we know new FIA students are surely going to sit first 7 papers (which are also equivalents of T1-T7) as computer based exams CBE.
Now as under CAT qualification you are given only first 4 papers to be sit under computer based exam, and not T5, T6 and T7, this would have been unfair if existing CAT students were allowed to sit for just paper based exam (also complete subjective kind of paper) and new FIA students to be allowed CBE. To cater this problem, existing CAT students who had/have planned to give T5, T6 and/or T7 paper(s) in June 2011 they will have the option to sit either for paper based exam or computer based exam. This is a special concession given to existing CAT students just for June 2011 session.
- If you are sitting for PAPER BASED EXAM then normal T5 T6 and T7 syllabi will be applicable to you
- If you wish to sit CBE type exam (instead of paper based) then you will be giving TT5, TT6 and TT7 which are equivalent to existing F1, F3 and F2 respectively.
“Which one is better CAT or FIA?”
Many students are still confuse about the new suit of qualifications and that’s the reason they are comparing CAT and FIA with each other in order to be sure whether they will be losing something or not.
Well, first of all if you are an existing CAT student or have been registered in CAT scheme already than you don’t have to worry about anything as you are neither losing nor gaining anything from transfer.
Also, FIA and CAT contains the same number of subjects, so even that is not causing any virtual advantage or disadvantage as before or after transfer you will have to sit through the same number of papers. For example, if you are a CAT student at the moment and have passed up to CAT T4 then under current CAT scheme you have to do 5 more exams to get CAT certification. And this is the same even after the transfer. After the transfer you will get exemption in the first four papers of FIA which equivalent to CAT subjects i.e. T1 = FA1, T2 = MA1, T3 = FA2, T4 = MA2 and even under FIA you have to do 5 exams to get the CAT certification.
However, there is one possible advantage that students can count by transferring to FIA that T5 T6 and T7 exams wll become CBE based which are currently paper based. And also the new syllabus is a bit easy as compared to current T5 T6 and T7 subjects. Especially for T7?s new replacement i.e. FMA which is also equivalent to ACCA F2 is far easier then current T7.
Another fact that is of extreme importance by introduction of FIA is that previously students had to do whole 9 exams of CAT to get the exemption of first three papers in ACCA i.e. F1, F2 and F3. But now under FIA you don’t have to do all 9 papers but just start straight away the Diploma in Accounting and Business, pass three papers under that and get exemptions in ACCA and resume your ACCA from F4.
Besides that, I find no advantage or disadvantage that students should be worried about. But I will keep you people updated as and when new information is available to me. But if you any question you can use i-ask! service any time.
“Is FIA equivalent to CAT in terms of value?”
Since ACCA has launched the new suit of qualifications, much confusions are surrounding it. I must suggest that ACCA should write a whole student accountancy issue about it. Another problem is, ACCA has already issued FIA introductory document in addition to help available on ACCA website, but as the information is scattered, students are not finding it easy to understand.
First thing that we should understand is that FIA is NOT just one qualification as opposed to old CAT qualification rather FIA is suit of qualifications i.e. FIA contains more than 1 qualification under its belt. There are 3 certificates and 1 diploma, in total, under FIA suit of qualifications.
Now if one asks whether FIA has the same value as CAT qualification then it depends on the perspective and the dimension of the question itself.
If you are asking about the knowledge value of FIA against CAT then it is the same as if you do all the papers under FIA you will get the same certification as you would have got under CAT.
If you are asking about the time value or exemption value or money value of FIA against CAT, then in my opinion FIA has more time value then CAT. As in CAT you had to do all 9 papers to claim exemptions in first 3 papers of ACCA, but now you don’t have to do all the subjects under FIA suit to claim that exemption instead, just do the diploma that contains 3 papers and you will get the exemptions of first three papers of ACCA. So, its much better than CAT as you are being rewarded on the same grounds i.e. you do THREE papers and get exemptions in THREE papers. This was not the case before under CAT where you had to do NINE papers, thus was paying for and sitting in nine papers to get exemption in just THREE papers of ACCA qualification.
“How can I transfer myself from CAT to FIA successfully? Do I need to do anything?”
Existing students of CAT qualification will be transferred to FIA by the end of August 2011 automatically. Students don’t need to do anything.
On transfer from CAT to FIA, ACCA has guaranteed that no student will be facing any kind of penalty or loss and students will be given credit on paper by paper basis. In order to understand that which paper of FIA will be set off against which paper of CAT, students should see the CAT Vs FIA and ACCA comparison figure above.
“Will TT5, TT6 and TT7 be held just in June 2011 exams and not before and after that?”
If students select to go for the paper based exam i.e. T5 T6 or T7 then they can sit in these exams in June 2011, however, if students go for transitional papers i.e. TT5 TT6 and TT7 then basically he is sitting current F1 F3 and F2 respectively.
So, under transitional arrangements you can sit in CBE exams as and whenever they are scheduled by the institute until November 2011.
“I have passed T1 upto T4 and T5 and T7. Will I get exemption from ACCA F1 and ACCA F2?”
OK this question is a bit tricky to understand, but I will try to elaborate what exactly and effectively is happening.
Whats exactly happening?
With the same number of subjects passed until the end of June 2011 exams you cannot claim exemptions in ACCA directly on paper by paper basis. After the introduction of FIA, the exemption arrangement has changed a bit. Now you can claim exemptions in ACCA qualification ONLY if you have completed all the subjects under Diploma either before the conversion to FIA or after conversion. Therefore, in order to be transferred to ACCA register you have to pass T6 under paper based arrangement (or TT6 under CBE arrangement). Then you will be transferred to ACCA register (if you select to do so in February notification sent to you). If you will not have passed T6 or equivalent by the June 2011 exams then you will be transferred to FIA where you will do the paper equivalent of T6 and only then you will be transferred to ACCA.
Whats effectively happening?
If you have followed the article until now then you might have understood already that subjects under Diploma are basically ACCA F1 ACCA F2 and ACCA F3. Now, even if you are not transferred to ACCA exactly, effectively you are transferred to ACCA and are given exemption on paper by paper basis. But the only difference is that you have registered under FIA. So effectively it does not make any difference.
However, one thing might still make a difference in case if you do not pass T6 by the end of June 2011 exams i.e. as you will be transferred to FIA and not ACCA then after completing the T6 or F2 equivalent under FIA. You will be exempted from ACCA F1, F2 and F3. Now, I am really hoping that ACCA will not charge exemption fee in this case. As they were not charging exemption fee when students transfer from CAT to ACCA on CAT qualification. This is one thing that still need some clarification.
“How many CBE papers does FIA have?”
FIA suit of qualifications allow first 7 papers under it to be given as Computer Based Examinations.
“How many exemptions are available to FIA students in ACCA?”
Exemptions in ACCA qualifications to FIA students are determined on the basis of qualification they have under Foundations in Accountancy course. As said earlier, FIA is not just one certification or qualification instead it has many qualifications contained in itself. In order to gain exemptions in ACCA qualification through FIA, then you have to complete all three papers under Diploma in Accountancy and Business. Once you complete this diploma you will be awarded exemptions in first three papers of ACCA.
I tried to gather all the relevant information at one place and to be as accurate as possible. However, if you think that something is described wrong then you are welcome to point that out as well. I will also update it as necessary.
STILL GOT QUESTIONS? THEN YOU CAN ASK BY COMMENTING IN THE BOX BELOW AND I WILL GET BACK WITH AN ANSWER ASAP!