The Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB)
The Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB) is an internationally recognised qualification developed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
As a world-renowned membership organisation, the ICAEW provides development and support services to the chartered accountancy profession. Its CFAB course consists of six modules of study designed to deliver a rounded overview of the fundamentals of finance, accounting and business.
The CFAB qualification is designed for anyone wanting to develop their understanding of, and skills in, business operation.
Successful completion of the course can act as a starting point for further professional development, provide a solid grounding from which to launch your career or expand your horizons with increased employment opportunities.
Why Should I Consider the CFAB?
The CFAB qualification is aimed at anyone wishing to gain a good understanding of the business world. It can be taken at any point during an individual’s professional development.
The course does not follow an academic year. Participants can begin their study at any time and can combine it with full-time employment or additional academic study, such as a university degree.
Studying for the CFAB qualification brings many professional benefits – whether you are looking to boost your career prospects after graduation, develop your skills within existing employment or set up on your own.
Here are a few such benefits:
- Recognised qualification – The ICAEW CFAB is an internationally recognised certificate. Employers worldwide acknowledge the skills gained through successful completion of the CFAB course.
- Gives credibility – As a globally recognised leading body in the finance and accountancy profession, an ICAEW qualification gives added credibility to your skills and knowledge.
- Improves your CV – Whether you are a graduate job-seeker, looking to switch career paths or improve your promotional prospects, adding the CFAB qualification to your academic achievements will boost your CV and, subsequently, your employability.
- Transferable – The knowledge and skills acquired through the CFAB course are relevant to a wide range of roles within any business organisation.
- Flexibility – The course can be taken alongside full-time employment or study commitments, and several study options are available to suit your circumstances.
- Demonstrates commitment – Studying for your CFAB qualification alongside a university degree or existing employment shows motivation and dedication to your career.
- Further progression – Successful completion of the CFAB course provides an entry route for the Association of Chartered Accountants qualification (ACA) and a career in chartered accountancy.
In addition, the CFAB course offers valuable knowledge of the fundamentals of business, finance and accounting for anyone interested in setting up and running their own business.
Entry Requirements and Fees
The CFAB is open to anyone who wishes to undertake the course and no formal qualifications are required for entry.
The course can be taken on its own or alongside a university degree or existing work commitments.
Whilst there are no qualifications required for entry, those that have undertaken previous academic training may be exempt from certain areas of study.
The CFAB course is made up of six individual learning modules. However, if you already hold or are working towards a relevant qualification, you may be exempt from certain topics.
This is referred to as credit for prior learning (CPL) and can be applied to the following five subjects:
- Business and Finance
- Principles of Taxation
- Management Information
To qualify for CPL, your degree or professional qualification must be listed on the ICAEW CPL directory and you must meet certain eligibility criteria.
Applications for CPL should be made on registration for the CFAB course.
The course also consists of an accounting module, which is compulsory unless you meet the following criteria:
- You are a university graduate and have passed your ACA Financial Accounting module or your ACA Financial Accounting and Reporting module.
- You are ATT qualified and have passed your ACA Financial Accounting Top-Up module.
There are various fees associated with the CFAB qualification which will vary depending on your circumstances:
- Registration fee – This one-off cost currently stands at £165. Students still at university are exempt from this fee, instead making a one-off payment of £20 if they join the ICAEW’s University Student Scheme (USS).
- Study materials – For those who take a self-study option, learning materials must be purchased at £32.50 per module.
- Tuition fees – If you choose to study through an approved learning provider, there will be an additional cost, variable by your method of study (online or classroom), your location and your chosen provider. As a general rule, this cost will be inclusive of all relevant study materials.
- Exam fees – Each module is assessed through a computer-based exam. CFAB exam fees are currently £70 per exam (including resits).
- CPL fees – If you are eligible for CPL, you will need to pay a fee of £70 for each module, against which you can claim credit.
How to Apply
Whilst the CFAB course can be studied anywhere, assessment is carried out through computer-based exams taken at ICAEW approved centres.
So, the first step in the application process is to check there is a test centre within a reasonable distance from your location.
If you choose the self-study option, you will need to locate your nearest test centre before you apply. The Pearson Vue network lists all approved ICAEW CFAB exam centres.
If you’re taking your CFAB qualification through a learning provider, it should have an exam centre on-site or work with an external centre close by.
When choosing your training provider, it is important to consider the course structure and timetable to ensure it fits in with any existing commitments. Taking the CFAB through classroom-based tuition may also require you to study the modules in a particular order.
All approved training providers can be found through the ICAEW website.
The next step is to register online as a CFAB student with the ICAEW. You will then receive a website login and your unique student number. You can then begin your CFAB study.
How Is the CFAB Course Structured?
The CFAB course covers the fundamentals of finance, accounting and business through six modules of study:
- Business, Technology and Finance
- Management Information
- Principles of Taxation
1. Business, Technology and Finance
This module offers guidance on the world of business as a whole. You’ll learn about different business structures, functions and objectives, how external factors can impact business, and the role of the accountancy profession.
2. Management Information
In this module, you’ll focus on business management in terms of finance (budgeting, forecasting, costing and pricing) and operation (performance and decision making).
This module gives insight into the fundamental principles of business accounting. You’ll learn how to prepare, maintain and adjust financial records and statements.
In this module, you’ll study how civil and criminal law can impact business operations and the provision of services, and will gain an understanding of company and insolvency law.
The assurance module focuses on how to prepare a business for extenuating circumstances, covering the need for business assurance and the relative processes and controls.
6. Principles of Taxation
In this module, you’ll study the different types of tax associated with business operation, including income tax, national insurance, VAT, corporate tax and capital gains tax.
Each module also offers guidance on professional ethics relating to the specific topic of study.
As the course is designed to be accessible to all, there are also four study options available:
- Self-study. Study independently and at your own pace using the learning materials provided.
- Classroom tuition. Receive face-to-face tuition from an approved training provider with fellow students in a classroom setting.
- Online learning. Combine self-guided study with expert tuition via live and pre-recorded online sessions. You can find a list of ICAEW approved online learning providers here.
- Blended learning. Study each module through any of the options above, seeking tuition where needed and carrying out self-study for topics you feel confident in.
Additionally, you can choose to study any of the six modules that you feel relevant to your existing role or chosen career path.
On passing the exam for the module in question, you’ll receive the relevant individual certificate.
However, you will only receive the full CFAB qualification if you complete or gain credit for all six modules.
How Will I Be Assessed?
Regardless of your method of study, you will be required to sit a computer-based exam at the end of each module. You can do these at any time of year and in whichever order you choose.
Each exam lasts for 90 minutes and has a pass rate of 55%. The ICAEW allows you to attempt each exam a maximum of four times.
If you are taking your CFAB qualification as part of your employment, and your employer is paying for or making a financial contribution to your study, it may stipulate that you have fewer than four attempts.
Registered students will have access to exam support materials, including sample questions and study webinars for each topic. Be sure to view these before every exam as they will outline how you will be marked and offer guidance on how best to use your time in the exam.
There are multiple ICAEW CFAB exam test centres worldwide. Unless you are receiving classroom tuition with a recognised provider, it will be your responsibility to locate an appropriate test centre and book your assessment exam.
Once you have passed all six exams, you will receive your CFAB qualification.
What Happens Next?
While the ICAEW CFAB is an independent qualification, gained to improve your business knowledge, employability and career prospects, it also provides an entry route for further study and professional development.
ICAEW Association of Chartered Accountants Qualification (ACA)
The ACA is the ICAEW’s chartered accountant qualification, a respected certificate recognised by organisations worldwide.
The ACA is an on-the-job training programme, with 15 modules of study taken alongside employment and exam-based assessments for each. The first six of these modules make up the content of the CFAB course.
Successful completion of the CFAB allows those without any prior qualifications to continue onto ACA training and become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.
ICAEW Chartered Accountants are highly sought after by many businesses. They often achieve higher salaries during their careers than those without ICAEW affiliation.
ICAEW Certificate in Insolvency
The ICAEW Certificate in Insolvency offers an in-depth understanding of insolvency issues. It is an online learning programme designed for legal or finance professionals, or anyone wishing to pursue or develop their career in insolvency.
The Certificate in Insolvency can be taken as a stand-alone qualification. Those also working towards their CFAB qualification are exempt from paying the associated registration fee.
ICAEW Business and Finance Professional (BFP) Designation
Students that pass all six CFAB exams and receive the full qualification can apply for ICAEW BFP designation.
Gaining BFP designation demonstrates to potential employers or clients that you work to the standards of a leading membership organisation.
On completing your CFAB qualification, you will be required to take an additional ethics learning programme (completed online) and to prove that you have a minimum of 12 months work experience in a finance or business-related role. This work experience will need to meet certain criteria and be officially signed off to qualify.
You will then receive your BFP designation. This demonstrates your ICAEW affiliation and provides access to many additional professional support services and resources.