ACCA Foundation in Accountancy (ACCA FIA): A Comprehensive Guide

Accounting is a specialised financial discipline that involves processing, measuring, and communicating financial and non-financial data. It concerns economic entities like businesses and corporations.

The accountancy profession is constantly evolving to meet the unique demands of how modern businesses operate. As such, the accounting technician of tomorrow needs rigorous and flexible qualifications to maintain relevance in a dynamically-changing business landscape. 

Furthermore, globalisation, governance failures, financial crises, technological development, and social and environmental issues have increased uncertainty, business risks, and organisational costs. Thus, accounts management has become more difficult.

Those working in this field need professional knowledge and abilities to help firms deal with current challenges and dynamic threats. This is where individuals with ACCA FIA qualifications play a vital role.

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What is ACCA FIA?

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the number one professional accounting network with over 2 million members and over 500,000 students worldwide. 

ACCA’s Foundation in Accountancy (FIA) is a reputable and foundational programme that helps students to build their foundational knowledge for careers in accounting and finance.

In essence, ACCA FIA allows for an expedited and direct transition into the full ACCA programme. In addition, it introduces students to basic accounting modules tailored to prepare them for ACCA accreditation. 

Principally, FIA constitutes a suite of certificates, diplomas and a Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Qualification. This range of accreditations means that one can pick the level of qualification that most appropriately meets their aspirations.  

Since it’s a foundation-level programme, one cannot utilise it to apply for a job. However, students can take two specialist papers under the revised CAT programme, allowing them to become accounting technicians.

The key benefits of ACCA FIA are:

  • The ability to learn the universal language of business.
  • Study flexibility options, i.e., you choose which exams to sit and how you want to study. Thus, the ability to progress at a pace that suits you. 
  • Accreditation from a recognised global leader in financial education (ACCA).
  • Entrance to a career in finance and accounting.
  • Enhanced employability.
  • Less stringent academic entry requirements.
  • A head start on full ACCA Qualification.

What is the difference between ACCA FIA and CAT?

Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) is a qualification that helps one to serve in a supporting capacity in their accounting career whilst providing them with a firm foundation in financial and managerial skills. 

Previously, CAT was a direct pathway for students to gain entry into ACCA after completing their SPM or O-Levels. However, ACCA FIA replaced it as the ideal entry-level qualification into advanced finance and accounting. 

CAT is the qualification one will attain upon completing all the FIA. However, a certificate of completion in FIA can’t be used to secure an accounting job. To do so, one must complete two specialist papers under the newly revised CAT programme to be considered as an accounting technician.

Generally, ACCA FIA was designed to serve as a replacement for CAT, with the difference between the two ultimately being: 

  1. CAT has 9 mandatory papers, while FIA only has 7 mandatory papers in its programme.
  2. CAT takes approximately 1.5 years to be completed, while FIA only takes one year to finish it.
  3. FIA doesn’t require one to complete MQA-mandated MATA Pelajaran Umum (MPU). This gives one the advantage of completing their programme faster than in CAT.
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ACCA FIA entry requirements

To qualify for this course, one needs a minimum of 5 credits in SPM. This includes credits in Mathematics and English.

ACCA FIA exemptions

Fortunately, some exemptions are available in the FIA programme, depending on one’s background.

  • LCCI Level 3: Up to five exemptions
  • SPM Accounting (grade of A+/A/A-): Exemption for FA1 Recording Financial Transactions paper. 
  • STPM and A Levels equivalent: Up to four exemptions

ACCA FIA subjects you’ll study

FIA constitutes different modules such as: 

  • FA1: Recording Financial Transactions
  • FMA: Foundation in Management Accounting
  • FBT: Foundation in Business and Technology
  • MA2: Managing Costs & Finance
  • MA1: Management Information
  • FIP: Foundation in Professionalism
  • FA2: Maintaining Financial Records
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • FFA: Foundation in Financial Accounting
  • Creative Thinking Skills 

ACCA FIA papers

The ACCA FIA course prepares you to sit for seven papers, namely:

  1. LEVEL: ACCA Diploma in Financial and Management Accounting (RQF Level 2)

PAPERS: MA1 Management Information, FA1 Recording Financial Transactions.

  1. LEVEL: ACCA Diploma in Financial and Management Accounting (RQF Level 3) 

PAPERS: MA2 Managing Costs and Finance, FA2 Maintaining Financial Records.

  1. LEVEL: ACCA Diploma in Accounting and Business (RQF Level 4)

PAPERS: FAB Accountant in Business, FMA Management Accounting, FFA Financial Accounting.

How long does it take to complete FIA ACCA?

On average, it takes one year to complete all FIA modules. However, there is no fixed time limit. 

Pathway from FIA to ACCA

As previously mentioned, after completing their SPMs/O-Level, one can immediately pursue ACCA qualification via the ACCA FIA programme.

The pathway from ACCA FIA to ACCA certified accountant is essentially six-fold:

  • Stage 1: ACCA FIA (seven papers)
  • Stage 2: ACCA Applied Skills (six papers)
  • Stage 3: Ethics and Professional Skills module (EPSM) (15 hours)
  • Stage 4: ACCA Strategic Professional (approx. four papers)
  • Stage 5: Practical Experience Requirement (PER) (approx. 3 years)
  • Stage 6: Attain Chartered Certified Accountant status

After becoming an ACCA-certified accountant, you can try any of the jobs listed below:

  • Chartered Accountant
  • Financial Accountant
  • Financial Analyst
  • Risk Manager
  • Management Consultant
  • Tax Manager
  • Chief of Financial Officer (CFO)

Pathway from FIA to CAT

The pathway from ACCA FIA to certified accountant technician (CAT) is essentially five-fold:

  • Phase 1: Completion of seven papers from FIA
  • Phase 2: Completion of two papers from CAT Specialist Papers
  • Phase 3: Completion of Foundations in Professionalism module
  • Phase 4: Completion of one year of CAT Foundations Practical Experience Requirement (FPER)
  • Phase 5: Attaining your status as a Certified Accounting Technician

Is ACCA FIA the right course for you?

ACCA FIA programme is the right course for you if you are: 

  • Planning for a future in accounting.
  • Desiring a quicker pathway into the ACCA qualification.
  • Enjoy rules and structure.
  • Love to organise and file things properly.
  • Comfortable with numbers and basic mathematics.
  • Love solving problems and puzzles.

Skills you need to do well in an ACCA FIA course

To succeed in ACCA FIA, you need to be:

  • Meticulous and detail-oriented
  • Competent and confident in mathematics
  • Proficient in the English language
  • Competent in Microsoft Excel.

How much does ACCA FIA cost?

The typical tuition fee for the ACCA FIA course is between RM10,000 and RM15,000, depending on the institution one chooses. Additionally, you’ll need to pay ACCA registration and exam fees for each exam paper which amount to about RM4,000.

Where to study ACCA FIA in Malaysia?

The demand for chartered accountants is expected to increase substantially due to economic changes, mushrooming organisations, and the wealth of company shareholders. As such, Malaysia needs to produce more than 60,000 professional accountants per year to sufficiently meet the expected growth in the Malaysian economy. 

However, Malaysia’s Accountants Act of 1967 stipulates that to be a qualified accountant, one must attain at least 3 years of practical accounting working experience with a recognised training entity.

Fortunately, one can study ACCA FIA at UOW Malaysia, a leading provider of high-quality learning for ACCA students in Malaysia. As an ACCA Approved Learning Partner (ALP), UOW Malaysia’s FIA program offers the most efficient pathway to achieving world-class, globally recognised accounting qualifications.


The global tech-driven landscape empowers new businesses’ development and expansion of existing ones. However, the workings of most business organisations are fast becoming more complex due to technology initiatives, growing composite business demands from government agencies, and a highly competitive business environment. 

As such, the availability of sufficiently competent accounting professionals is becoming mission-critical to managing and documenting business activities.

ACCA FIA offers the ideal way to attain a deep understanding of business finance, opening up new career possibilities.

ACCA FIA’s modules have built-in flexibility to allow one’s skills to be specially tailored to meet dynamic business needs and environments. Furthermore, they provide even greater access to the ACCA Qualification by allowing individuals to choose from a flexible range of qualifications to help them cultivate the relevant technical knowledge and practical skills necessary to outperform in any accounting technician role.


06 March 2023