CIMA Professional Qualification

The CIMA Professional Qualification is recognised worldwide as the most relevant global finance qualification for a career in business.

By studying with CIMA you will be joining a global organisation powered by two of the world’s leading accounting bodies (AICPA – the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and CIMA). We work together to make management accounting the most valued profession in business worldwide.

On completion of the CIMA Professional Qualification, you will be awarded the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation, recognising your value and showcasing your professionalism, business and leadership skills, ethics and commitment.

As accountants in business, management accountants need to understand how businesses operate, how they are managed, how people work together and how strategy is formulated.

They also need to be able to provide the analysis which managers need to understand the economics of a businesses’ operations, to manage performance and to manage risk. These capabilities are in addition to the core technical financial accounting skills expected of a professional accountant.

Only the CIMA Professional Qualification can give you the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience needed add value to organisations and drive business success.

History

CIMA was founded in 1919 as "The Institute of Cost and Works Accountants" (ICWA). It specialised in the development of accounting techniques for use in the internal control of manufacturing, service and public sector operations. It developed a position as the leading professional body in the areas of product costing, budgeting, management accounting, investment appraisal and business decision making.

The institute changed its name from ICWA to the "Institute of Cost and Management Accountants" (ICMA) in 1972 and subsequently to the "Chartered Institute of Management Accountants" (CIMA) in 1986, after it was granted a Royal Charter, a globally recognised accounting qualification, based in the UK and particularly honored in Commonwealth countries. Its membership has grown from 15,000 in 1970 to 79,757 members and 92,909 students in 2009. It has played a role in founding fraternal professional bodies such as the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan, the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh, the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India and the Institute of Management Accountants (USA).

Structure of the CIMA Syllabus

The CIMA syllabus comprises nine separate subjects that are organised in three pillars and three levels.

THE PILLARS

The three pillars represent specific areas of knowledge. The content of each pillar develops as students move up the qualification. The three pillars are interlinked to provide a coherent body of knowledge that will equip successful students with the competencies they require.

  • The enterprise pillar deals with the formulation of strategy, as well as its effective implementation. It emphasises how change management, project management, relationship management and the structuring of organisations can help to successfully implement strategy.
  • The performance pillar uses the tools and techniques of management accounting and risk management to ensure that strategy is realistic and to monitor its implementation. It shows students how to use their understanding of costs to construct budgets, make decisions about prices and capital expenditure, manage costs and manage performance. It develops the ability of students to progressively identify, classify, evaluate and manage risk.
  • The financial pillar focus is the financial accounting and reporting obligations of the organisation. This includes an understanding of the regulatory framework and external reporting requirements, and the ability to construct and evaluate complex financial statements to show the financial position and performance of the organisation. The fundamentals of business tax are covered, as are the tax implications of financing decisions. It also looks at formulating financial strategy, which is linked to the formulation of organisational strategy in the enterprise pillar and assessing risk in the performance pillar.

The subjects in each learning pillar are designed to be sequential, from operational to strategic level, encouraging the progressive development of knowledge, techniques and skills.

The levels

The syllabus is also divided into three levels of achievement. Students progress from the operational level to the management level and finally to the strategic level. At each level students study subjects across the three pillars.

  • The operational level covers the implementation of strategy, as well as reporting on the implementation of strategy. Its focus is the short-term.
  • The management level translates the strategy decided at higher levels, and communicates it to lower levels for implementation. It monitors and reports on the implementation of strategy, and ensures corrective action is taken when required. It has a medium-term focus.
  • The strategic level concentrates on making strategic decisions and providing the context for which those decisions will be implemented. Its focus is the long-term.

Syllabus topic weightings

Each subject is divided into a number of broad syllabus topics. A percentage weighting is shown against each syllabus topic and is intended as a guide to the proportion of study time each topic requires. It is essential that all topics in the syllabus are studied, as all topics will be examined. The weightings do not specify the number of marks that will be allocated to topics in the examination..

Download our full syllabus

How can I study?

You can study either full or part time. There are different ways to study depending on what works best for you, including:

The full structure and assessment approach

The syllabus is split into three pillars and three levels, and comprises 12 exams: nine Objective Tests, and three Case Study exams.

Objective Tests are 90 minutes long, computer based and available on demand at over 5,000 Pearson VUE assessment centres worldwide.
Case Study exams are 3 hours long and available in four windows throughout the year, also computer-based and available at over 5,000 Pearson VUE assessment centres worldwide.

Educating for employability

The increasing complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity in the operating environments of organisations make it difficult for their leaders and employees to create and preserve value. Finance professional with high quality technical skills, deep understanding of their organisations, and the ability to influence and lead people can provide the insight those organisations need to craft and successful execute their strategies.

The CIMA Professional Qualification has been designed to enable this. Our syllabus and assessment bridges the skills gaps of newly qualified finance professionals worldwide, meeting the employability needs of both business and people and is aligned to the real world of business.