ICAEW CFAB is not just a stepping stone on the way to the ACA; this highly valued qualification can take your career in a whole new direction.
For many students, the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB) is the first step on the path towards becoming a Chartered Accountant. But it’s also a globally recognised standalone qualification for anyone working – or interested in working – in business. As well as giving a good grounding of essential knowledge and practical skills, it’s a great introduction to the world of finance, opening your eyes to the wealth of opportunities available, and new doors in your career. We spoke to two people who completed the ICAEW CFAB qualification to see where it has taken them.
Oliver Spicer, Technical Expert – Intensive Supervision Team, Gibraltar Financial Services Commission
“I studied a broad set of topics at university: politics, philosophy and economics. Like a lot of people, at that time I didn’t really have a clear idea of what I wanted to specialise in – it can be difficult to know what you’re going to be good at, or what value you can bring. After my degree I went on to do a master’s, then joined Deloitte’s graduate scheme in Gibraltar. I originally intended to complete the ACA, but soon after accepting the job offer at Deloitte I found out my mother was terminally ill, which made studying very difficult.
“Nonetheless, I actually found working through the ICAEW CFAB modules to be very straightforward – it was good to have bite-sized pieces of the puzzle to go through. Once I had completed the ICAEW CFAB, I decided I wanted to specialise in insurance. I had done quite a lot of statistical analysis in my master’s degree, and a role came up at Advantage Insurance Company working on their internal model, which gave me an introduction to the Solvency II EU Directive – and that’s been my speciality ever since.
“I really recognise the solid grounding and foundation that the ICAEW CFAB qualification provides. It gave me a lot of transferable skills, and facilitated my move to what I’m currently studying: the Advanced Diploma in Insurance with the Chartered Insurance Institute. I’m also an Associate of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment. There’s a snowball effect: the more you study, the more comfortable you are studying! And despite not having a degree in finance, I am now very comfortable looking at finance-related matters. Given that I now supervise insurance firms at a very detailed level – we are also the regulators for a wide variety of different sectors including audit firms in Gibraltar – the ICAEW CFAB qualification was a great stepping point. It allows me to understand the outputs coming from those firms and have a very open dialogue with them, which then enables me to more intelligently identify areas of risk.
“You may not be a finance person, but after doing the qualification you may appreciate how you could be, and how that could actually support your career. It’s not just bookkeeping; there are a number of areas that you may then want to get involved in from a strategic perspective. There is a world of finance to consider.”
Minh Tu, Junior Analyst, McKinsey & Company, Vietnam
“I actually wanted to be a lawyer originally – I loved watching the American legal drama Suits when I was in high school. In the US you need a bachelor’s degree in any subject before you can apply to law school, and I thought finance would be a good first step. I studied accounting at the VNU University of Economics and Business in Hanoi, and during my junior year applied for a range of intern positions. I expected to work at a smaller firm first and then hopefully move on to the Big Four, but I got an offer from PwC.
“I stayed on at PwC after my internship, and worked in public accounting for a year. It was during that time that I completed the ICAEW CFAB qualification. What appealed to me most about the qualification was the level of support and extracurricular activities on offer from the ICAEW Vietnam community. It’s more than just textbooks and knowledge; it’s about mindset and connection. I switched my career path to consulting, and felt that the foundation that ICAEW CFAB had given me was enough.
“Of course, the ICAEW CFAB qualification gave me knowledge and skills, but more importantly it helped me build confidence in my work when I was starting out. I’m now a junior analyst at McKinsey, and work mostly with Vietnamese banks, providing targeted expertise to drive meaningful insights and industry analysis. A big part of my work is dealing with financial data, which I’m very comfortable with thanks to my background. I plan to keep doing what I love, and hopefully it will make a positive impact on the world. I don’t have a specific goal in mind anymore – life is full of options that we don’t know yet.”
We have a range of resources to support you on your ICAEW CFAB journey. Find out more about what you can do after completing the ICAEW CFAB qualification, such as applying for our Business and Finance Professional (BFP) designation or going on to study the ACA to become a chartered accountant.