Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales (also generally applicable to ICAS and ICAI)
The ICAEW is the largest professional accountancy body in Europe, with 128,000 members. It’s members qualify while working in practice and on qualifying, either stay in practice or move into industry. The majority of trainees come from university, but it is possible to come straight from A-Levels, if your results are good enough. Trainees must obtain a training contract with a firm of accountants.
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
The CIMA qualification focuses on accountancy for business and it is the only qualification that qualifies accountants solely for business. CIMA accountants qualify while working in industry and are not qualified for audit. It is less usual to find a CIMA accountant working in practice. This is because the qualification is geared towards strategic financial management and it’s members chose CIMA because they work in industry. CIMA also has the largest student base worldwide.
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
ACCA is the largest accountancy body worldwide. It’s members qualify either while working in practice or in industry.
Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
CIPFA accountants qualify while working for public sector organisations. Their qualification is uniquely geared towards public sector work. Until recently, only CIPFA accountants could be s151 officer. The preference for CIPFA qualified accountants still persists within many public sector organisations, because only the CIPFA syllabus covers the statutory requirements of accounting for public bodies in any great detail. However, recently the NHS chose to train its new finance mangement recruits for the CIMA qualification.