11 Sep 2017 | 10.32 am
Accountancy Career Path: CIMA
Roger Acton explains the entry routes
11 Sep 2017 | 10.32 am
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) stresses inclusivity as one of its USPs. You don’t need a degree to start with CIMA’s entry level qualification, the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting. All that’s required initially is a good grasp of maths and English. For people with undergraduate qualifications, any degree is welcomed by CIMA. For graduates with degrees that are relevant to the CIMA syllabus, such as accounting or business, exemptions to exams may be available.
In 2016, CIMA Ireland launched an updated CIMA Certificate (Cert BA) in Business Accounting, assessments for which began in January 2017. The Cert BA 2017 was devised to serve as an entry route to the CIMA qualification and as a standalone qualification to give anyone – not just those in a finance role – a solid grasp of the fundamentals of business and finance.
Roger Acton (pictured), head of CIMA Ireland, explains that there are many routes to gaining the CIMA qualification, from the entry level Certificate in Business Accounting to those with more experience and other qualifications, such as the fast-track route for MBA holders and a one-year full time MSc in Strategic Management Accounting offered by UCD Smurfit School.
“If you’re new to business or accounting studies, you will first need to work towards gaining the CIMA Cert BA,” he adds. “This will then enable you to move on to the CIMA professional qualification. Those who have previously studied business or accounting may be entitled to exemptions or there may be an alternative route to entry.”
Twelve Exams In Three Years
CIMA also adopts a flexible approach to how students tackle the syllabus, allowing them to progress towards membership at their own pace. On average, students complete the 12 professional qualification exams in three years, says Acton. “Depending on the individual they can take as little as 18 months or longer than the average if they need to take the Certificate level first. There is considerable flexibility built into the study options and they can set the pace at which they study and take the exams.”
Face-to-face tuition is provided by Accountancyschool.ie in the Republic of Ireland and by the Richard Clarke Academy in Northern Ireland. There is a mentoring programme in Dublin and Cork with First Financial Training and the recommended online tuition provider is Kaplan Financial.
How Much Does It Cost?
The level of outlay depends on the study options and number of modules undertaken by the student and exemptions that may apply. “For example, an individual may decide to pursue the qualification solely through CIMA study.com, which provides an online eLearning platform,” Acton explains. “Others may opt for a blended approach, combining online with face-to-face tuition and tutorials, as well as purchasing hard copy text books and exam revision kits. However, assuming that there are no exemptions, the total outlay to complete the entire qualification of nine modules would be €3,773 over three years.”
The majority of people pursuing the CIMA qualification are in full-time employment, as the qualification is business relevant. “The CIMA Professional Qualification has been designed to enable this,” says Acton. “The CIMA 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.”
CIMA CASE STUDY
CIMA graduate Eoin McDonagh is an assistant manager, advisory, with EY in Dublin. He worked in a finance role for a couple of years before going back to do my B.A in Accounting & Finance at DCU in 2010. Following that, McDonagh decided to pursue a career in management consultancy and he wanted to bolster this ambition with a professional accountancy qualification.
“I chose CIMA as it offered so much more than a financial accounting qualification,” says McDonagh. “I gained very strong business acumen, which I apply everyday on client engagements, through studying the performance and enterprise pillars.”
McDonagh (pictured) became a CIMA member in May 2015 and is thankful for the study flexibility that helped him on his way in CIMA. “Due to the nature of my job, I can often move location and my hours are unpredictable at times. I completed all of my learning online right through from operational to strategic level. The most challenging aspect is definitely juggling work priorities with lectures and study. Choose an approach that works for you. Also, it is very important to keep the momentum. Once you get going with exams, keep powering through.”
McDonagh regards CIMA as an excellent qualification, not just for people wishing to become accountants, but for those looking to develop business acumen too. “Speak with people who are studying and have qualified to understand their experience. It is a professional qualification and therefore there is a significant level of work involved. Don’t be put off – it’s all worth it in the end.”