What is CIMA?

CIMA logo and symbols

We have just introduced CIMA to our online learning portfolio, but what is it? In this guide, we’ll explain the qualification and hopefully inspire you to study.

What does CIMA stand for?

CIMA stands for The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. It’s the world’s leading, and largest, professional body of management accountants. The main focus of a management accountant is to analyse information to advise business strategy.

Why study CIMA?

CIMA is a globally recognised qualification, so it opens so many doors to you when you’re considering a career path. As a Chartered Management Accountant you’ll be looking at an average salary of around £65,000* once qualified, depending on where you work, and which industry you’re in. Not to be sniffed at.

How does the qualification work?

CIMA is made up of four levels and awards. You will be credited with an award when you finish a level:

  • Certificate in Business Accounting
  • Professional Operational
  • Professional Management
  • Professional Strategic

Certificate in Business Accounting is the very start of the journey if you’re new to accountancy. There are no entry requirements but you’re expected to have good Maths and English skills – ideally GCSE C/4 or above. At this level you’ll learn about the basics of business economics, management and financial accounting, and ethics. It takes about 12 months to complete, although as with any level you can go faster or slower than this. CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting is a qualification in its own right, and doesn’t necessarily need to be followed up by completing the Professional qualification.

Professional Operational is the first level of the CIMA Professional qualification. You can start at this level if you’ve done CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting, AAT Professional Level 4, or have a relevant accountancy or finance degree. If you have any questions about exemptions, you should get in touch with CIMA directly. At this level you’ll learn about managing finance in a digital world, costs and analysis used in production, and financial reporting and taxation. Again, this level takes about 12 months to complete.

Professional Management gives you the skills to do advanced management accounting and financial reporting tasks. You have to have done Professional Operational to start this level, unless you qualify for any exemptions. You’ll learn how to manage companies,using internal and external tools including business ecosystems, project management and investment appraisal. Most students complete this level in about 12 months.

Professional Strategic is the final level of becoming a Chartered Management Accountant. You’ll develop your leadership and management abilities, and learn about risk management and financial strategy. You can only do this level if you’ve passed Professional Management, or have completed CIMA Gateway, and it’ll take around 12 months to complete.

It is worth noting that to achieve the CGMA designation, as well as passing the exams, you will need to complete the practical experience requirements (PER). This is evidence of work based skills and competencies. This is all managed and approved by CIMA, so if you have any questions please get in touch with them.

From start to finish, how long does the qualification take to study?

If you were to start with Certificate in Business Accounting then it would take around 4 years to complete. Starting at Professional Operational level, it’ll take about 3 years. But it’s completely up to you. Go as quickly or as slowly as you need. There’s no pressure – learn on your own terms.

Is CIMA better than ACCA?

Both qualifications are fantastic, and have their benefits. CIMA is focused more on business skills, management, and strategy and has a focus on industry. ACCA is based more on traditional accountancy and accountancy practice, with technical accounting knowledge as the primary focus.

To decide between the two you need to think about what you want to do as a career and where you see yourself in the future. Roughly speaking, those with ACCA tend to go down a career path of financial specialist, and general practice including audit and insolvency,. Those with CIMA tend to go into management and strategic roles in business and finance including business partnering

If you’re considering which one has the least exams, they’re pretty similar. CIMA has 16 exams, whilst ACCA has 14.

Looking at potential earnings, here’s a quick comparison of job roles and average salaries:

ACCA

Typical ACCA qualified careers in the UK, per year (average salaries**):
Financial consultant – £37,500
Banking – £39,000
Auditing – £42,500
Business management – £42,500
Taxation – £52,500

The average UK ACCA salary overall is £42,500 – but can go up with experience, and it depends on the role.

CIMA

Typical CIMA qualified careers in the UK, per year (average salaries**):
Financial analyst – £42,500
Financial controller – £47,500
Financial manager – £47,500
Business analyst – £52,500
Chief financial officer – £57,500

The average UK CIMA salary overall is £65,000 – but this can go up with experience, and, like ACCA, it depends on the role, industry and location.

Interested in studying CIMA and becoming a Chartered Management Accountant?
If all this has inspired you, and you want to know more, have a look at our CIMA course pages for how to study on subscription and get your learning started.

*Source: https://salary.aicpaglobal.com/
**Source: totaljobs.co.uk salary checker