Difference Between CIMA and CFP

CIMA stands for Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and this course emphasizes more on business ethics, asset allocation, investment policy, performance assessment, and risk analysis whereas CFP stands for Certified Financial Planner and this course focuses on offering strategic advice on various topics that falls under the purview of taxes and investment.

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 the 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 the scope of both the courses. Below is the structure of what we are going to understand in this post.


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CIMA vs. CFP Infographics

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


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CIMA vs CFP – Comparative Table

Organizing BodyThe CIMA exams are managed and controlled by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), UK. The CFP exams are managed and controlled by the Certified Financial Planner Board (CFP Board) of Standards Inc., USA.
PatternThe basic qualification has just a single level – Certificate in Business Accounting. The professional qualification, on the other hand, is divided into 3 levels


  • Operational level
  • Management level
  • Strategic level
 The CFP qualification is a single level course.
Duration of CourseThe candidates usually take around a year to complete each level. Hence, both basic and professional qualification can be completed in a span of 3 to 4 years. The candidates usually take around 3 years to complete the course.
SyllabusThe syllabus of the course covers the following topics


  • Management Accounting
  • Strategic Marketing Management
  • Finance Management
  • Business Accounting
  • Information Management





 The syllabus of the course covers the following topics


  • General Principles of Financial Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Retirement Savings & Income Planning
  • Education Planning
  • Tax Planning
  • Risk Management & Insurance Planning
  • Professional Conduct & Regulation
Exam FeesThe cost of the entire course comes to be in the range of £2,500 to £3,000, which includes the cost of study materials along with the exam fees. The cost of the entire course varies based on the time of registration. The exam fees for early, standard and late registration are $825, $925, and $1,025 respectively.
JobsSome of the common profiles include


  • Finance Controller
  • Project Manager
  • Management Accountant
  • Business Analyst
  • Forensic Analyst
 Some of the common profiles include


  • Tax Consultant
  • Investment Planner
  • Estate Planner
  • Retirement Planner
  • Risk Manager
  • Legal Financial Manager
DifficultyThe difficulty level of the exams is moderate. The pass rates for the exams conducted in May 2020 for the Professional qualification were:


  • Operational level – 57%
  • Management level – 67%
  • Strategic level – 69%
 The difficulty level of the exams is moderate as indicated from a historical pass rate of more than 60%. The overall pass rate for the exams conducted in 2019 was 62%, while that for the first time exam takers was 66%.
Exam DateThe upcoming exams for the year 2021 are scheduled to take place from May 14 to May 28, from August 11 to August 27, and from November 10 to November 26. The upcoming exams for the year 2021 are scheduled to take place from March 09 to March 16, from July 06 to July 13, and from November 02 to November 09.

What is the 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 to 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 an Investment Consultant. The administering committee IMCA also keeps a close eye on the record of ethical conduct of the candidates appearing for CIMA. Continuing education of 40 hours is required to be obtained every two years so as to maintain the certificate.

What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

The certification exam of Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is organized by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Students, Inc. This certification involves all-around studies of financial planningFinancial PlanningFinancial planning is a structured approach to understanding your current and future financial goals and then taking the necessary measures to accomplish them. Because this does not begin and end in a specific time frame, it is referred to as an ongoing more 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 a full-time financial planner or equivalent part-time experience. This certification requires continuing education of thirty hours 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 analysisRisk AnalysisRisk analysis refers to the process of identifying, measuring, and mitigating the uncertainties involved in a project, investment, or business. There are two types of risk analysis - quantitative and qualitative risk more, 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, stockbroking, 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 a 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 increasing your knowledge by studying further.

Why pursue CFP?

There is an adverse need for quality financial planners in today’s world. Being a CFP, it broadens your thinking skills and helps you in achieving the financial goals of your clients in a better way. Becoming a CFP can make your financial planning 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 they are relying more on your technical abilities. Along with increased financial prospects, one also experiences 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 exams can be taken at any qualified testing center, and you have to clear this exam in one go; otherwise, you’ll have to wait for another 30 days to pay the retake fee. After clearing the qualification examination, you have to register for a registered education component, and then you are eligible to appear for the certification examination.  A certificate examination for CIMA is a four-hour exam that is hosted by AMP testing centers. Subjects that are covered under this certification are Fundamentals of management accounting, fundamentals of financial accountingFinancial AccountingFinancial accounting refers to bookkeeping, i.e., identifying, classifying, summarizing and recording all the financial transactions in the Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement. It even includes the analysis of these financial more, fundamentals of business mathematics, fundamentals of business economicsBusiness EconomicsBusiness Economics defines the economic issues faced by an entity. It determine how much is the impact of a certain change in an economic factor on the profitability or revenues of a given business and uses this analysis in steering the firm’s more 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 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 that are covered under CFP examination are establishing and defining the client-partner relationship, gathering information necessary for fulfilling engagement, analyzing and evaluating the client’s current financial status, developing the recommendations, communicating the recommendations., implementing the recommendations, monitoring the recommendations, and practicing within professional and regulatory standards.


Both 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 allocationAsset AllocationAsset Allocation is the process of investing your money in various asset classes such as debt, equity, mutual funds, and real estate, depending on your return expectations and risk tolerance. This makes it easier to achieve your long-term financial more, then you should pursue the CIMA certification.

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

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