Difference Between CIMA and CPWA

CIMA is the short form used for the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and this course can be cleared by qualifying all the three levels (operational level, management level and strategic level) whereas CPWA stands for Certified Private Wealth Advisor and this course is a one-level certification exam.

So are you tired, searching for certifications which you think goes well with your personality? Wish to know if either CIMA qualification or CPWA exam could help? I must tell you that you are not the only one. Don’t worry! Through this article, let me guide you on whether it should be CIMA or CPWA.


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In this article, we will discuss the following –

  1. What is CIMA?
  2. What is CPWA?
  3. Infographics
  4. Entry Requirements
  5. Why pursue CIMA?

What is CIMA?

CIMA stands for Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, a UK-based premier body dedicated to the promotion of industry-wide best practices and knowledge dissemination in the field of management accountancy. The institute offers a comprehensive CIMA certification program aimed at validating the skills and capabilities of professionals with varying levels of expertise. It is a 4-tier certification program including:

  1. CIMA Certification in Business Accounting
  2. CIMA Diploma in Management Accounting
  3. CIMA Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting
  4. Member of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

Starting with an entry-level certification and culminating with an expert-level accreditation, this certification program is designed to accommodate the diverse learning needs of students as well as professionals working in the field of management accountancy.

What is CPWA?

Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA) Certification is specifically meant for wealth managers working with high-net-worth individuals, keeping in mind their specialized needs. This certification program is intended to help financial planning professionals learn how to identify the unique challenges faced by these high-net-worth individuals and develop strategies aimed at efficient tax management, maximizing growth, and discovering suitable avenues for investment.

Investments & Wealth Institute (IWI) offers this certification program to introduce relevant topics like behavioral finance, portfolio management, and risk management to 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 professionals dealing with high-net-worth individuals.

CIMA vs. CPWA Infographics


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Entry Requirements


There are no special entry requirements for the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting. It is an entry-level certification for which little to no knowledge of accounting is required. Instead, only a good grasp of mathematics and English are needed along with an interest in accounting to qualify for this certification.

The professional-level qualifications offered by CIMA are divided into operational, management, and strategic level studies. To pursue CIMA Operational Level studies, professionals need a basic level of proficiency in accounting or business studies. This requirement can be met if the candidate holds any one of these qualifications:

  • CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting
  • Master’s in Accounting or MBA
  • Membership of ICWAI, ICMAP or ICMAB
  • Membership of an IFAC body

Any relevant qualification to get an exemption from the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting

To pursue Management Level studies, one should have successfully completed CIMA Operational Level studies as well as Operational Case Study.

To pursue Strategic Level studies, one should have completed both operational and management level studies successfully along with their respective case studies.


Professional prerequisites:

  • A candidate must hold a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university or hold one of the following designations or licenses:
  • CIMA, CFA, CIMC, CFP, ChFC or CPA License
  • Must have five years of professional work experience in the financial services sector or of serving high-net-worth clients
  • A professional record of ethical conduct, as cross-checked by IMCA’s Admissions Committee

Educational prerequisites:

The candidates must complete a six-month pre-study education program culminating with 5-day in-class learning at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

CIMA vs – CPWA Comparative Table

Organizing BodyThe course is offered by the  Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), UK. The course is offered by the Investments & Wealth Institute (IWI) in partnership with the Yale School of Management and The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
PatternThe course is divided into Certificate in Business Accounting and Professional qualification, which includes 3 levels


  • Operational level
  • Management level
  • Strategic level
 This is a single level course that concentrates on 4 domain knowledge


  • Human Dynamics
  • Wealth Management
  • Legacy Issues
  • Specialty Client Services


Duration of courseThe candidates take around 1 year to complete each level. Hence, the entire course takes around 3 to 4 years. The candidates are able to complete the course in a span of 6 to 9 months.



SyllabusThe syllabus primarily includes


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


 The syllabus primarily includes


  • Ethics
  • Behavioural Finance
  • Tax Planning
  • Portfolio Management
  • Risk Management
  • Estate Issues
  • Wealth Transfer
  • Retirement Management
Exam FeesThe cost of the course lies in the range of £2,500 to £3,000, which includes the exam fees as well as the cost of study materials. The cost of the course varies based on membership status. The cost for non-members, new members, and existing IWI members are $7,995, $7,390, and $6,995 respectively.
JobsSome of the common profiles include


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


  • Private Wealth Advisor
  • Private Wealth Manager
  • Financial Planner
  • Financial Advisor


DifficultyThe difficulty level of the exams is moderate. During May 2020, the pass rates for Operational, Management, and Strategic levels were 57%, 67%, and 69% respectively



 The high pass rate in the recent past suggests that the difficulty level of the exam is fairly reasonable. During Jun-Sep 2020 quarter, the pass rates for the first-time testers and re-testers were 87% and 86% respectively. Please note that the historical pass rates are not so high
Exam DateThe schedule for the upcoming exams during the year 2021


  • Feb 10-26
  • May 14-28
  • Aug 11-27
  • Nov 10-26
 The candidates can appear for the certification exam once they complete the required education according to the program selected either by the Yale School of Management and The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Key Differences

  1. CIMA is organized and offered by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Institute. CPWA is organized and offered by the Investments & Wealth Institute (IWI).
  2. There are three levels of exams that an individual must appear and qualify in order to attain a CIMA degree. These levels are strategic level, management level, and operational level. In the case of a CPWA degree, an aspirant will only need to qualify for one round of exams since the course is a single-level exam.
  3. The subjects that are focused on a CIMA course are management accounting, organizational management, project and relationship management, advanced management accounting, management accounting, and financial reporting and taxation. The subjects that are focused on a CPWA course are wealth management strategies, legacy planning, client specialization, and human dynamics.
  4. The job titles that an applicant with a CIMA degree can apply for are management accountant, internal auditInternal AuditInternal audit refers to the inspection conducted to assess and enhance the company's risk management efficacy, evaluate the different internal controls, and ensure that the company adheres to all the regulations. It helps the management and board of directors to identify and rectify the loopholes before the external more manager, financial analyst, and finance manager. The job titles that an applicant with a CPWA degree can apply for are private wealth managers and private wealth advisors.
  5. Individuals that are interested in making a career in finance can choose to pursue the CIMA certification course, while individuals that are interested in making a career in wealth management can go for the CPWA certificate course.
  6. An applicant must have at least basic knowledge in accountancy as well as business studies to apply for the CIMA certification program. The applicant must hold a qualification in any one of the degrees like membership of ICMAP/ ICWAI /ICMAB, Masters in Business Administration or MBA, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants certificate in BA (business accounting), and such other relevant qualification.
    An applicant willing to pursue the CPWA course must necessarily have a bachelors’ degree (graduation degree) from a reputed university, a minimum of 5 years of professional experience in serving clients with a high net worth, at least one license in CIMA/CIMC/CFA/ChFC/ or CIPA.

Why Pursue CIMA?

Those studying management accountancy or professionally engaged in the field can benefit a great deal from the CIMA certification program. Students can opt for CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting, a foundation-level accreditation aimed at helping them become acquainted with the basics of management accounting and related areas. This would help them gain a foothold in the industry and bring greater credibility in the eyes of prospective employers.

The next 3 levels of accreditation are meant for professionals at the beginner, middle and advanced stages of their learning curve and are designed to not only let them test their capabilities and work on improvement areas but also earn more respect and credibility in the eyes of prospective employers. An increasing number of employers are on the lookout for accredited professionals and are more comfortable entrusting them with positions of responsibility.

Why Pursue CPWA?

CPWA offers specialized knowledge of wealth management for professionals serving high-net-worth clients. Earning this credential can help them acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for the purpose as high-net-worth individuals deal with quite a different set of problems as compared with any average investor.

Another big reason is added credibility, as an increasing number of employers, as well as clients, tend to go with professionals who have higher credentials and work experience. This credential can make a value addition to the profile of a wealth manager who is looking to optimize his or her skills in terms of serving high-net-worth clients.

Recommended Articles

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

Reader Interactions


  1. Crystal Zayden says

    Brilliant work I must say, you always bring something new to readers, must really appreciate your hard work and passion. i just want to know the CIMA exam dates of 2017. Please share me the details.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for your kind words. i will soon let you know the dates for CIMA exam in 2017.

  2. Nell Fernandes says

    Awesome comparison between these two certifications. I also want to know everything about CPWA. I was about to search this information on some other website but as I was going through your website I found this article which was really good enough, but I would like to know more about CPWA. Please help me to learn more. Thanks in advance.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Many thanks. CPWA is designed by the volunteers of IMCA in such a way that it can address the challenges faced by professionals in managing the wealth of high net-worth individuals. Here there is one article CPWA CERTIFICATION EXAM which will cover everything that you need to know about CPWA.