Difference Between CIMA and CFA®
CIMA course (Chartered Institute of Management Accountant) offers training and certification pertaining to management accountancy and business management, whereas, CFA exam (Chartered financial analyst®) provides detailed knowledge in investment management and prepares candidates for roles in Investment Research, Portfolio Management and analysis.
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The article is articulated in this order:
- What is the CIMA qualification?
- What is CFA?
- Key Differences
- Why pursue CIMA?
- Why pursue CFA®?
What is CIMA?
Founded in 1919, CIMA has evolved over the last 100 years to become one of the world’s leading professional bodies of accountants. In 2017, CIMA and AICPA joined hands together to form the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, representing a large network of more than 650k members and students. If you complete the CIMA qualification, you will become part of this huge professional community.
- This is a different type of accounting course for business. CIMA concentrates on accounting as well as the strategic part and the risk mitigation of the business. CIMA believes that as a business executive, one should have a helicopter view of the business. Thus this course adds value to the students in a comprehensive manner.
- CIMA is not an easy course to complete. Even if it’s convenient in terms of exam windows per year, students need to put an arduous effort to clear it. First of all, students need to clear all six papers at the operational and management level, and then only they can sit for a strategic level. The pass mark is 50%. The course is designed so that students can first learn about the foundations of business, and then they can go on and study strategy and risk in business.
What is CFA®?
The CFA® Program focuses on investment management. The top employers of shareholders include the most respected financial corporations globally, e.g., JPMorgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, UBS, and Wells Fargo, to name a few.
- Many of these are investment banks, but the CFA® Program focuses on the knowledge and skills most relevant to the global investment management profession from a practitioner’s standpoint. Investment professionals who hold the CFA® designation (or CFA® charter) meet rigorous educational, work experience, and ethical conduct requirements.
- Only those who complete three graduate-level examinations, four years of work experience, and annual membership renewal (including ethics and code of professional conduct attestation) are permitted to use the CFA® designation. Complementary codes and standards (such as the Global Investment Performance Standards and Asset Manager Code) help enhance this professional distinction.
CIMA vs CFA ® Infographics
Key Differences Between CIMA and CFA®
Even if both professional qualifications are the best in the world, there are significant differences between them. Let’s have a glance at the key differentiators which separate CIMA from CFA®.
#1 – International Recognition:
Students who have completed CFA® argue that CFA® is the most internationally recognized professional course. At the same time, students at CIMA demands that CIMA is more globally relevant. But it’s generally seen that CFA® is more recognized globally, and CIMA has a magnificent reputation in the UK, but not so much in the world.
#2 – Salary differences:
Even if CFA® is a topmost globally recognized course, if we compare compensation after completing CFA® with CIMA, it’s much less.
CIMA qualified professionals get an average salary of around £62,000 per annum, while CFA charter holders’ median salary is around $95,000 per annum.
#3 – Perspective:
There is a significant difference between the perspective of CIMA and CFA®. Even if CIMA is one of the top-rated management accounting institutes, the course’s focus is not only management accounting, but hardcore business. This course understands the value of three levels of business and gives equal emphasis on each. Thus, students who pass out after completion can immediately join as the chief executive officer or managing director.
Whereas the emphasis of CFA® is completely different. It’s about investment banking and finance. Students who are keen on making their careers around finance should join CFA®. But if you think you are more interested in business and the overall process of how things work in the organization, then CIMA is perfect for you.
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#4 – Examination:
In this case, both of the courses understand the value of assessment, and both of the institutes take the assessment via two formats where one succeeds another. In both qualifications, the emphasis on objective tests and case studies is equal, and once the students clear the objective test, only then can they sit for case study exams.
This way, the assessment can be done thoroughly, and only the creams come on the top. All the mediocre students get filtered out.
#5 – Convenience:
If you do the course under CIMA, there is more convenience, and the administration is also very active. Whatever information you require, you would get it on their website. And if we talk about an exam, the objective tests are on-demand, and the case study exam is organized four times a year. Thus the opportunities for students are much more.
But in the case of CFA®, the first level of exam happens twice a year and the next two levels once in a year. This exams arrangement makes it difficult for CFA® students to clear the exam quickly (if they want to). So, doing CIMA is more convenient than doing CFA®, not in terms of value, but regarding the difficulty of obtaining the degree.
#6 – Examination Fees:
The cost of CIMA and CFA® qualifications are quite comparable. The total cost of the CFA® program is in the range of $2,550-$3,450, which includes exam fees of $700-$1,000 (based on the time of registration) per level and a one-time registration fee of $450. On the other hand, the CIMA qualification cost is in the range of £2,500 – £3,000.
#7 – Applicability:
This is the biggest advantage of CIMA. Depending on your previous qualifications, it’s applicable for any students who want to pursue a business and accounting career.
CFA® is not for everyone. Students who are from hardcore finance can attempt to pursue CFA®.
#8 – Foundation:
Both of the qualifications, CIMA and CFA®, need a strong foundation in two subjects (mainly) – Mathematics and English. If you have a strong background in both of these subjects, pursuing CIMA and CFA® would be easier than students who lack the foundation and efficiency in these subjects.
In CFA®, you need an additional knack for finance so that you can understand complex subjects like portfolio management. As CIMA is a complete course in business and regarded as almost equal to a master’s degree, you need to have a passion for learning and applying business techniques and fundamentals.
|Organizing Body||The exams are organized by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), UK.||The CFA Institute, USA, conduct the exams.|
|Pattern||The course consists of 4 levels.
||The course is divided into 3 levels.
|Duration of course||On average, a candidate can complete the course in 3 years.||If a candidate can clear all the exams in his/ her first attempt, then the course can be completed in 4 years.|
|Syllabus||The syllabus revolves around
||The syllabus revolves around.|
|Exam fees||The overall cost of the course lies in the range of £2,500 to £3,000.||The overall cost of the course lies in the range of $2,550 to $3,450.|
|Jobs||Some of the common profiles include
||Some of the common profiles include|
|Difficulty||The exams are moderately difficult. During May 2020, the pass rates for Operational, Management, Professional, and Strategic levels were 57%, 67%, 27%, and 69%.||The difficulty level is very high. During June 2019, the pass rates for Level I, Level II, and Level III were 41%, 44%, and 56% respectively. [Source: CFA Institute]|
|Exam Date||The schedule for the upcoming exams during the year 2021
||The schedule for the upcoming exams during the year 2021
Why pursue CIMA?
If you want to have a strategic advantage over other accounting courses, you should pursue CIMA.
- CIMA is not as recognized as CFA®, but if you think about compensation, it’s much higher than a CFA®. But CIMA is more popular in the UK than in other countries.
- CIMA is as good as a master’s degree. When every country is popularizing MBA for their business students, CIMA is certainly one step closer to bridge the gap between learning and employability.
- CIMA is much relevant to the current scenario of business. As it takes a case study approach to teach the subjects, it becomes much more relevant than any other accounting course.
Why pursue the CFA® designation?
The differentiating benefits of earning the CFA® designation include:
- Real-world expertise
- Career recognition
- Ethical grounding
- Global community
- Employer demand
The sheer demand for the CFA® charter speaks to the difference it makes. More than 245,000 global candidates registered for the June 2020 CFA® exams scheduled to be held in 193 cities across 95 different countries.
For more information, refer to- CFA® Programs.
CIMA and CFA® both are courses of great value. But you need to choose which one is yours to pursue. You may also pursue both courses if you want as CFA® is considered as a degree level course, whereas CIMA is considered as a master’s degree.
This has been a guide to CIMA vs CFA®. Here we discuss the top differences between CIMA and CFA® along with the infographics and comparative table. You may also have a look at the following articles –
- ACCA or CIMA?
- CFA® or MBA – What should you consider?
- CFA® or CFP – What’s better?
- Claritas vs CFA® Exam
- CIPM vs Claritas
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