Difference Between ACCA and CIMA
ACCA certification (Association of Certified Chartered Accountant) equips students with skills in accounts handling, management accounting, taxation, auditing, etc while CIMA certification (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) provides adequate training and degree with respect to management accountancy and various other related subjects.
Both ACCA and CIMA are reputed certifications in the field of accounting and finance. However, CIMA is little more than just accounting as it also helps in honing skills for decision making because it is a mix of accounting and business management. Hence, both certification programs cater to some specific job profiles, and it is the candidates who need to decide based on their career aspirations.
ACCA vs CIMA Infographics
Let’s see the top differences between ACCA and CIMA.
Comparative Table – ACCA vs CIMA
|Organizing body||Association of Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA)||Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)|
|Pattern||Divided into 3 levels
||Divided into 4 levels
|Duration of course||3 years||3 years|
|Exam Fees||£1,500 – £2,000||£2,500 – £3,000|
ACCA vs CIMA – Which is Better?
This is a very common question, and sadly there is no easy answer to it. There is no doubt that both certifications help secure some of the most sought after jobs in the finance and accounting domain. ACCA emphasises advanced taxation principles and external auditing and prepares candidates to work independently or in finance-specific private firms. On the other hand, CIMA helps candidates to prepare for the business side of accounting with a flair of management expertise.
After becoming a certified ACCA, a candidate gains a deeper understanding of the technical side of financial accounting. On the other hand, a CIMA passed out candidate develops excellent strategic and business management skills.
Both courses require a similar amount of time for completion. For ACCA, candidates need to clear 14 professional exams coupled with 3 years of supervised accountancy experience. If the candidates can manage their work and studies simultaneously, then they can complete the ACCA qualifications in around 3 years. On the other hand, CIMA candidates also need to complete 16 papers and 3 years of relevant work experience to complete the CIMA qualification successfully. So, even in CIMA, candidates can complete the course in 3 years if they balance their work and studies well.
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Eligibility or Experience Required
A candidate needs to pass high school to be eligible for the ACCA examination. In contrast, the CIMA exams need a candidate to graduate in any discipline from a recognized university. Both ACCA and CIMA qualifications require the candidate to have three years of relevant work experience. It is to be noted that candidates are eligible for exemption from papers based on their educational background [more details on this can be retrieved from the respective official websites].
Besides core subject areas of accounting, auditing, and taxation, the ACCA course covers subjects pertaining to business studies, financial reporting, financial management, law, and ethical & professional standards. On the other hand, the CIMA qualification is more focused on developing business skills. The subjects it covers are business accounting, management accounting, information management, finance management, strategic marketing management, etc. The ACCA syllabus has 13 exams in total, while the CIMA has 16 exams.
Career Opportunity and Salary
An ACCA qualified professional usually starts in the job profiles of Accountant, Financial Consultant, Tax Manager, Finance Manager, and Internal Auditor. On the other hand, a CIMA qualified professional is best fitted in Management Accountant, Business Analyst, Forensic Analyst, Project Manager, and Finance Controller.
The ACCA trainees start with an average salary of £19,300 p.a., while the ACCA finalists and ACCA part-qualified can earn up to £30,700 p.a. and £25,800 p.a. respectively. On the other hand, CIMA qualified professionals get an average salary of £62,000, which can go up to £129,000 at senior levels.
Fees and Passing Rates
In terms of the cost of the examination, CIMA is slightly more expensive than ACCA. The cost of ACCA qualification comes around £1,500 – £2,000, while that of CIMA qualification is in the range of £2,500 – £3,000.
Given the historical passing rates, it is fair to say that both courses are moderately difficult. The below table captures the outcome of ACCA exams conducted during March 2020, wherein it can be seen that the Professional level is the most difficult one while the Knowledge level is the simplest one [Source: ACCA Global].
|ACCA Qualification||Mar – 20|
|Accountant in Business||82%|
|Corporate and Business Law||83%|
|Audit and Assurance||36%|
|Strategic Professional – Essentials|
|Strategic Business Leader||47%|
|Strategic Business Reporting||51%|
|Strategic Professional – Options|
|Advanced Audit and Assurance||33%|
|Advanced Financial Management||33%|
|Advanced Performance Management||32%|
The below table captures the outcome of CIMA exams conducted during May 2020, wherein it can be seen that except Professional level, all other levels are equal difficulty in terms of passing rates [Source: CIMA Global].
|CIMA Qualification||May – 20|
The ACCA exams are conducted in March, June, September, and December during a year, while the CIMA exams are conducted in February, May, August, and November. The exam dates of the upcoming ACCA exams are Mar 01-05, 2021 and Jun 07-11, 2021, while the of CIMA exams are Feb 10-26, 2021, May 14-28, 2021, Aug 11-27, 2021, and Nov 10-26, 2021.
How to Enroll?
If a candidate is interested in pursuing ACCA, then he/ she should visit the official website of ACCA Global for process guidance. On the other hand, if a candidate wants to pursue CIMA, then he/ she should register at the official website of CIMA Global.
This has been a guide to ACCA vs CIMA. Here we discuss the difference between ACCA and CIMA along with the infographics and why to pursue them. We also discuss their exam requirements. You may also have a look at the following articles –