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ACCA vs CIMA

Updated on April 8, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

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 concerning management accountancy and various other related subjects.

Both ACCA and CIMA are reputed certifications in accounting and finance. However, CIMA is little more than just accounting as it also helps in honing decision-making skills because it is a mix of accounting and business management. Hence, both certification programs cater to specific job profiles, and the candidates need to decide based on their career aspirations.

ACCA vs CIMA

ACCA vs CIMA Infographics

Let’s see the top differences between ACCA and CIMA.

ACCA vs CIMA Infographics

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Comparative Table – ACCA vs CIMA

Section ACCA CIMA
Organizing body Association of Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA) Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
Pattern Divided into three levels
  • Knowledge Level
  • Skills Level
  • Professional Level
Divided into four levels
  • Operational Level
  • Management Level
  • Strategic Level
  • Professional Level
Duration of course Three years Three years
Syllabus
  • Accounting & Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Financial Management
  • Financial Reporting
  • Ethical & Professional Standards
  • Business Accounting
  • Management Accounting
  • Information Management
  • Finance Management
  • Strategic Marketing Management
Exam Fees £1,500 – £2,000 £2,500 – £3,000
Jobs
  • Management Accountant
  • Business Analyst
  • Forensic Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Finance Controller
Difficulty Moderate Moderate
Exam Dates
  • Mar 07-11, 2022
  • Jun 06-10, 2022
  • Feb 09-25, 2022
  • May 11-27, 2022
  • Aug 10-26, 2022
  • Nov 09-25, 2022

ACCA vs CIMA – Which is Better?

It is a very common question, and sadly there is no easy answer. There is no doubt that both certifications help secure some of the most sought-after jobs in the finance and accounting domain. ACCA emphasizes 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 prepare for the business side of accounting with a flair of management expertise.

Skills Obtained

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.

Duration

Both courses require a similar amount of time for completion. For ACCA, candidates need to clear 14 professional exams and three years of supervised accountancy experience. If the candidates can manage their work and studies simultaneously, they can complete the ACCA qualifications in three years. On the other hand, CIMA candidates must complete 16 papers and three 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.

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. In addition, both ACCA and CIMA qualifications require the candidate to have three years of relevant work experience. Finally, it is to be noted that candidates are eligible for exemption from papers based on their educational background [can retrieve more details on this from the respective official websites].

Syllabus

Besides core subject areas of accounting, auditing, and taxation, the ACCA course covers business studies, financial reporting, financial management, law, and ethical & professional standards. On the other hand, the CIMA qualification focuses on developing business skills. Its subjects are business accounting, management accounting, information management, finance management, strategic marketing management, etc. The ACCA syllabus has 13 exams, 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, increasing to £129,000 at senior levels.

Fees and Passing Rates

CIMA is slightly more expensive than ACCA in terms of the examination cost. 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 we can see that the Professional level is the most difficult while the Knowledge level is the simplest one [Source: ACCA Global].

ACCA QualificationMar – 20
Applied Knowledge 
     Accountant in Business82%
     Financial Accounting73%
     Management Accounting65%
  
Applied Skills 
     Corporate and Business Law83%
     Taxation46%
     Financial Reporting44%
     Performance Management35%
     Financial Management44%
     Audit and Assurance36%
  
Strategic Professional – Essentials 
     Strategic Business Leader47%
     Strategic Business Reporting51%
  
Strategic Professional – Options 
     Advanced Audit and Assurance33%
     Advanced Financial Management33%
     Advanced Performance Management32%
     Advanced Taxation44%

The below table captures the outcome of CIMA exams conducted during May 2020. Except for the Professional level, all other levels are of equal difficulty in terms of passing rates [Source: CIMA Global].

CIMA QualificationMay – 20
Operational57%
Management67%
Professional27%
Strategic69%

Exam Availability

The ACCA exams are conducted in March, June, September, and December, while the CIMA exams are conducted in February, May, August, and November. The exam dates of the upcoming ACCA exams are Mar 07-11, 2022 and Jun 06-10, 2022, while the CIMA exams are Feb 09-25, 2022, May 11-27, 2022, Aug 10-26, 2022, and Nov 09-25, 2022.

How to Enroll?

If a candidate is interested in pursuing ACCA, they should visit the official website of ACCA Global for process guidance. On the other hand, if a candidate wants to pursue CIMA, they should register at the official website of CIMA Global.

Recommended Articles

It has been a guide to ACCA vs. CIMA. Here we discuss the difference between ACCA and CIMA, infographics, and why to pursue them. We also discuss their exam requirements. You may also have a look at the following articles –

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. imane says

    can you please give information about the difference between CIMA and ACA thank you

  2. imane says

    can you please give information about the difference between ACA and CIMA thank you

  3. Beatrice Bakwena says

    thank you for the information!! Very helpful

  4. margie quennell says

    Thank you so much for your amazing blog. You are a start!!!
    I started CIMA in England. I love business strategies and risk management so, I am sure CIMA will help me very much when I start working on those fields.

  5. Jaxon Reece says

    Very informative and knowledgeable blog. Thanks for posting. Actually I was searching for CIMA Exam dates for this year 2017 but I didn’t found the same, I guess you have not yet updated the dates for CIMA exam 2017. I hope you will update it very soon.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks Jaxon for the feedback. Will update about CIMA 2017 shortly. Will update you soon.

  6. Thomas Drake says

    Nice one. I have also seen the related article which you have mentioned below in this blog, they all are very useful and helpful but I was also looking for the article about the differences between CFA and ACCA which you have not mentioned this blog. Please if you have any kind of case study on CFA VS ACCA then plz let me know.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks. To know the comparisons between CFA and ACCA, you can take a look at this article here CFA vs ACCA. Happy Learning!!

  7. Effiom Effiom says

    thank you. pls i need to know the 1st step

  8. Basel Alasa'ad says

    dear MR Dheeraj
    I hope you are well
    I am interesting to study both of them, but I need to know how can do it especially when I am leaving in Syria.
    can I study them by using internet.
    thank you

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