CIMA vs CFP – Which Credential is Suitable?

CIMA vs CFP –  Which Credential is Suitable? – Choosing between CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst) and CFP (Certified Financial Planner) is a tough choice because both the options are equally good in their own right. They can help give your career a desired boost.  However, the course must fit into your career ambition. So to help you choose the right course for your bright career aspirations, we analyze the courses in detail highlighting scope of both the courses. Below is the structure of what we are going to understand in this post.

CIMA vs CFP Infographics

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Lets understand the difference between these two streams with the help of this CIMA vs CFP Infographics.

CIMA vs CFP Infographics

What is CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst)?

CIMA is known to be the most prestigious course when global business is taken into context. This course is offered by The Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA). Being CIMA certified gives you the knowledge to undertake critical strategic decisions in any business.  Those who want to reach up the level of advanced investment consultants pursue CIMA. Their major role is to provide sound guidance to international investors. CIMA certification ensures that you have undergone 3 years of extensive practice as Investment Consultant. The administering committee IMCA also keeps a close eye on the record of ethical conduct of the candidates appearing for CIMA. A continuing education of 40 hours is required to be obtained after every two years so as to maintain the certificate.

What is Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

Certification exam of Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is organized by Certified Financial Planner Board of Students Inc. This certification involves all around studies of financial planning and tends to cover a range of topics like stocks, bonds, taxes, insurance, retirement planning and estate planning. Certified Financial Planners work closely with individuals to help them in assessing their financial decisions to achieve maximum profits. Educational qualifications required for CFP are a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and three years’ experience as full time financial planner or equivalent part time experience. This certification requires continuing education of thirty hours after every two years.


In order to draw a comparison between both the courses we must, first, understand the scope of both the courses. While CIMA focuses more on asset allocation, business ethics, risk analysis, investment policy and performance assessment CFP course revolves around providing strategic advice on the topics that fall under the category of tax and investments. Pursuing a CFP certification also opens the option of leading a career in various sectors including banking, wealth management, advisory services, stock broking etc. Thus it can be said that for a more holistic approach towards a career in business, CFP is the course that will help you achieve it.

Why pursue CIMA?

CIMA is an important certificate considering today’s client demands sophisticated solutions for their business prospects to maximize their profits. CIMA certification is organized by IMCA which is all about business ethics hence CIMA ensures that you have undergone rigorous ethical code of conduct and if found guilty then you will be handled by a professional review committee of peers. CIMA certification enhances your professional stature and opens up the opportunity to work with imminent clients and depicts that you are committed to increase your knowledge by studying further.

Why pursue CFP?

There is an adverse need of quality financial planners in today’s world. Being a CFP, it broadens your thinking skills and helps you in achieving financial goals of your clients in a better way. Becoming a certified Financial Planner can make your financial career to grow exponentially. According to a survey CFP Professionals 26 percent more in compensation than other financial advisors. CFP certification creates a positive impact on clients and strengthens their trust and their rely more on your technical abilities. Along with increased financial prospects one also experience a satisfaction in their career.

To obtain a CIMA certificate one has to clear the qualification examination and certification examination which are conducted online and are proctored. Qualification exam can be taken at any qualified testing center and you have to clear this exam at one go otherwise you’ll have to wait for another 30 days to pay the retake fee. After clearing qualification examination you have to register for registered education component and then you are eligible to appear for certificate examination.  Certificate examination for CIMA is a four hour exam that is hosted by AMP testing centers. Subjects which are covered under this certification are Fundamentals of management accounting, fundamentals of financial accounting, fundamentals of business mathematics, fundamentals of business economics and fundamentals of ethics, corporate governance and business law.

For CFP certification, you have to complete a CFP Board registered program. The CFP certification exam is administered in a computer based testing (CBT) during a 5 day testing window each year, with one testing window available each March, July and November. The exam comprises of 170 multiple choice questions including scenario based questions along with standalone questions. The exam comprises of two three hour sessions separated by a scheduled 40 minutes break. Major domains which are covered under CFP examination are establishing and defining client partner relationship, gathering information necessary for fulfilling engagement, analyzing and evaluating client’s current financial status, developing the recommendations, communicating the recommendations., implementing the recommendations, monitoring the recommendations and practicing within professional and regulatory standards.

Pro Tip

Both the courses have individual benefits and scope in the business industry and can be pursued for prospering career options. If you don’t want to limit yourself to a few finance related sectors then you should go for CFP and if you want to specialize in sectors such as Investment policy and asset allocation then you should pursue the CIMA certification.

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