Difference Between CIMA and CAIA

CIMA is all about management accounting, whereas, CAIA is a certification in Alternative Investments (Private Equity, Hedge FundHedge FundA hedge fund is an aggressively invested portfolio made through pooling of various investors and institutional investor’s fund. It supports various assets providing high returns in exchange for higher risk through multiple risk management and hedging more, and more).

What if we say that you have a number of options to choose from in the finance industry? Yes, this is true; you definitely have a number of options. In this article, we compare the two well-known industry certifications – CIMA and CAIACAIAThere are two levels to the CFA® CAIA exam. Professional Standards and Ethics, as well as an introduction to alternative investments, are covered in Level I, while alternative investments and other integrated topics are covered in Level more.


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What is CIMA?

CIMA is a course that holds international recognition. It offers qualifications and training in management accountancy. CIMA is a professional body that is based in the UK. Yes, this is a UK based course. This institute has been known by various names in the past.

Starting with the ICWA or The Institute of Cost and Work Accountants when it was formed in the year 1919, it then changed to ICMA that is The Institute of Cost and Management Accountants in the year 1972; followed by its final name that is CIMA, which is now Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in the year 1986 after it was honored as Royal Charter globally recognized accounting qualifications by the commonwealth countries and countries based in the UK.

This organization sets a specific standard of examinations that need to be qualified by prospective members. By using publications and media-related activities, this board promotes local education of management accountancy and development operations with the help of new techniques that are developed post research, foundation, and practice publications. In the eastern zone countries, this CIMA has been actively taken initiatives in vocational and recent education.

CIMA is not just an educational organization. It is also a professional accounting body for versatile legal and statutory purposes for the UK government, along with a number of global governments.

What is CAIA?

After knowing the global body that is the CIMA, let’s look at CAIA. The Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst is a course that trains and candidates in alternative investments. Alternative investmentsAlternative InvestmentsA financial asset that is different from the conventional investment categories such as stocks and cash is referred to as an alternative investment. Private equity, hedge funds, venture capital, real estate/commodities, and tangibles such as wine/art/stamps are all examples of alternative more are investments other than investing in stocks and bonds.

You can also say that investments except for standard equity products and fixed incomeFixed IncomeFixed Income refers to those investments that pay fixed interests and dividends to the investors until maturity. Government and corporate bonds are examples of fixed income more products all fall in the bracket of alternative investments; this includes investments such as private equity, hedge funds, commodities such as precious metals and stones, antiques, etc., and also real estate.

Who offers this course? This course offered by non-other than the CAIA association and this association was formed by the Alternative Investment Management Association with the Center of International Securities and Derivative MarketsDerivative MarketsThe derivatives market is that financial market which facilitates hedgers, margin traders, arbitrageurs and speculators in trading the futures and options that track the performance of their underlying more in 2002. CAIA is not just a nonprofit organization; it is also a global independent organization. They are motivated and focused on creating professionalism by educating candidates in the field of alternative investments.

To clear this course, the candidate has to clear a good two-level examination. Not to forget these examinations is one of the most competitive examinations in the field of finance, business, and commerce. One of the best in its kind examination recognized for its class and standard spreads extreme knowledge, credibility in order to help candidates show their specialization in the field of finance.

CIMA vs. CAIA Infographics

Let’s understand the difference between these two streams with the help of this CIMA vs. CAIA Infographics.


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CIMA vs. CAIA Comparative Table

Organizing BodyThe organizing body for the CIMA exams is the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), UK.The organizing body for the CAIA exams is the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association, USA.
PatternThere is a basic qualification of Certificate in Business Accounting, and then there is the professional qualification that consists of three levels – Operational level, Management level, and Strategic level.The course consists of two sequential levels – Level I and Level II.
Duration of CourseThe candidates take around 36-48 months to clear both basic and professional qualifications.The candidates take around 12-18 months to clear both levels of the course.
SyllabusThe syllabus of the course primarily focuses on the following topics
• Management Accounting
• Business Accounting
• Strategic Marketing Management
• Finance Management
• Information Management
The syllabus of the course primarily focuses on the following topics
• Professional Standards & Ethics
• Alternative Investments
• Private Equity, Hedge Funds, Real Assets & Structured Products
• Volatility & Complex Strategies
• Due Diligence & Selecting Strategies
• Institutional Asset Owners & Investment Policies
Exam FeesThe cost of the course includes the study material cost along with the exam fees and the total falls in the range of £2,500 to £3,000.The cost of the course includes the enrollment fee and the exam fees and the total falls in the range of $2,700 to $2,900. The variation is due to the difference in time of registration. There are exam fee exemptions for AIMA company members and professional associations.
JobsSome of the common profiles include
• Business Analyst
• Management Accountant
• Forensic Analyst
• Project Manager
• Finance Controller
Some of the common profiles include
• Portfolio Manager
• Hedge Fund Analyst
• Investment Consultant
• Private Equity Analyst
DifficultyThe difficulty level of the exams is moderate. The pass rates for the exams conducted in May 2020 were

  • Operational level: 57%
  • Management level: 67%
  • Strategic level: 69% [Source: CIMA Global]
The difficulty level of the exams is quite high. The pass rates for the exams conducted in September 2020 were

  • Level I: 52%
  • Level II: 65% [Source: Wikipedia]
Exam DateThe schedule for the upcoming exams for the year 2021 is as follows

  • Certificate in Business Accounting: On-demand across the year
  • Operational level: Feb 10-12, May 12-14, Aug 11-13 & Nov 10-12
  • Management level: Feb 17-19, May 19-21, Aug 18-20 & Nov 17-19
  • Strategic level: Feb 24-26, May 26-28, Aug 25-27 & Nov 24-26
The schedule for the upcoming exams for the year 2021 for both levels is as follows

  • Level I: Feb 22–Mar 05 & Aug 30–Sep 10
  • Level II: Mar 08-19 & Sep 13-24





Exam Requirements


Of course, most professional courses have requirements. However, when it comes to CIMA, this course does not really have specific requirements. Your entry might depend on your last experience. The syllabus designed by CIMA is a step by step guide to help you develop your skills and your knowledge as you complete your qualification.

CIMA also has exemptions, just like other professional financial courses. For example, if you have cleared exams that exempt you from appearing for some CIMA exams, then you save you’re your time and hard work.

You are sure to receive an exemption if you have a degree that is relevant or a professional experience that is relevant. For example, if you have an AAT membership, you will be exempted from appearing the entire certificate level.

To start with, check the starting point of your CIMA examination to get a written confirmation of your examination exemption status.


This certification has no specific requirements, for they do include the base required to a successful professional as CAIA in their syllabus. If you only want to know that you are heading in the right direction and towards the right goal, you must have the following qualities.

  1. Basic of finance understanding and implementation
  2. Use or understanding of qualitative analysis
  3. If you feel you are interested in working as an expert in alternative investments under designations such as manager of risk, alternative investment analystInvestment AnalystAn investment analyst is an individual or firm that excels in the financial and investment research and have a keen knowledge of financial instruments and models. Such financial professionals include portfolio managers, investment advisors, brokerage firms, mutual fund companies, investment banks, more, manager of portfolios, financial advisor, financial consultant, a trader, etc., etc., etc.…
  4. Really interested in learning particularly alternative investments.

Why pursue CIMA?

CIMA is a qualification that gets you ready for business and the corporate world. The course of CIMA has real-life accounting skills that are not just theoretical but also practical accounting skillsAccounting SkillsAccounting Skills are the set of skills required to present business transactions comprising of financial and non-financial in the books of accounts as per prescribed Standards of Accounting (US GAAP, IFRS, Ind AS) and as a part of legal compliance and analysis of business outcome in an optimum more and competency included in its syllabus to make you ready for the corporate and the finance world. It includes vigorous studies and assessment methods.

The syllabus of CIMA is not only strong in accounting skills. It also includes Big Data, reliability, sustainability, focused reporting, and transformation of finance functions. Their syllabus also covers the study of risk, along with costing and cost management. The employer will understand that you have the knowledge of theory and practical if he sees that you have cleared each level.

The assessments of CIMA are mostly computer-based, and for objective type, questions will follow on demand. In fact, CIMA is the 1st education body that focuses on a combined assessment to examine their syllabus. This is to assure that technology is used widely in the field of education and the finance industry.

Becoming a member of CIMA, you get to be part of the globe’s biggest professional body of the management accountants. You can use this designation globally.

Why pursue CAIA?

CAIA members set a different and a very high standard in the field of alternative investments. This standard cannot be matched by candidates with a bachelor’s degree. Not to forget, the members also enjoy benefits associated with the designation of a CAIA. You can choose your domain within the field of alternative investments and work as your choice. You have a number of domain options such as Hedge Funds, Private Equity, Real Estate, Investment Banking, Commodity Exchange, etc.

You can share a number of investment and industry improvement ideas by attending and having access to various related events and conferences across the globe as a member of CAIA. These conferences have a number of benefits; however, two major benefits are

  1. They give you access to the knowledge and improvements of this industry and
  2. They give you an opportunity of interacting and socializing with people who belong to the same field of finance and maybe the same domains.

The association ensures that you get on to a good and a high designation that interest you along with ensuring you get all the benefits and perks associated with the designation.

By just completing two levels of examinations, you can achieve high standards in alternative investments along with creating and building your global community with international recognition. You also have the option of updating your knowledge and your skills all your life.

Yet this course is not going to be simple for you, and neither is it rocket science. Which means you can defiantly break through the examinations.


If accountancy is in your blood and you are also good at cost management and cost setting, CIMA is just the right course for you, and we would suggest you take up a course that interests you the most.

An alternative investment is a versatile topic. You would love alternative investments if you wanted to compare it with the investments in equities and bonds. CIMA is more about accounting and cost managementCost ManagementCost management is an integral part of business management that works on the basis of estimates, where various activities such as data collection, data analysis and mechanisms, process evaluation, and event reporting are carried out so that the decision-maker can plan and control the organization's budget requirements, allowing the decision-maker to make informed more, whereas CAIA is, as you know, all about alternative investments. CAIA is for you if you love making money sweat.

This has been a guide to CIMA vs. CAIA. Here we discuss the top differences between CIMA and CAIA along with infographics and a comparative table. You may also have a look at the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. Estil Lesky says

    Thank you so much for sharing this article and giving a brief knowledge on both of these certifications.

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