5 things you need to know about a CIMA qualification

By Robert Half 18th October 2016

Securing a qualification through the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) can undoubtedly give your finance career a real boost. Becoming CIMA qualified shows you have the skills and knowledge needed to work in various business and finance roles, not just accountancy jobs. Being a member of the world’s largest professional body of management accountants - with more than 229,000 members and students in 176 countries - gives you extra credibility and status as a professional. With the new association with the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) asssociation, there are added benefits of being part of a world-wide communication of over 600,000 finance professionals.

If you have a CIMA qualification, or deciding whether to choose a CIMA vs ACCA qualification, here are five key points to remember:

1. Employers rate CIMA qualifications

CIMA is highly respected among employers, as they recognise the high-calibre of management accountants who emerge from the body's training programme. As a student, you develop analysis, strategy, risk management, planning and communication skills, ensuring you have a broad range of attributes. Using the CGMA Competency Framework as the foundation to ensure the right mix of financial expertise alongside business-focused knowledge, CIMA’s robust assessment methods mean the real-life skills and competencies employers need are woven into the syllabus. This is why CIMA members are often on a hiring manager's wish list when recruiting financial business leaders.

2. CIMA qualifications should be on your CV

If you hold a CIMA qualification, this should be clearly documented on your CV. Always include full details, including your dates of study, in the professional qualifications section. Gaining your CIMA qualification shows that you are serious about career development and have the skills and knowledge associated with a top management accountant. If you are currently studying towards your CIMA qualification, you should still document this on your CV. This shows prospective employers that you are actively trying to develop your career.

In the skills section on your CV, you may wish to include some of the attributes you have gained or improved by studying for your CIMA qualification. You need to explain how these attributes enable you to add value to the business, providing examples where possible. This should be with a view to differentiating yourself from other job candidates, including those who have a CIMA qualification or have studies with another professional accountancy body.

3. CIMA career options

As a CIMA qualified accountant, there are multiple career options available to you in a variety of finance and business roles. As well as strong accounting fundamentals, the CIMA professional qualification teaches strategic business and management skills. By passing your assessments, you have proven the ability to grasp both theory and practice, which can be applied in a range of business settings. Your training in business management means you are capable of advising on strategy and risk management.

Many CIMA qualified accountants pursue commercial and strategy-based roles, such as commercial analysts and financial analysts. In such positions, you will operate across teams and departments, providing a link between finance and operations. An alternative is to look for financial management positions, such as financial manager or financial controller. These roles potentially put you on the path to becoming a finance director or CFO in the future.

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4. You can reach the top in business

Professionals with a CIMA qualification have the commercial skills and knowledge to work in senior board-level positions, making the big decisions which drive organisations forward. Many professionals rise through the ranks into senior roles, either remaining in the finance function or taking on more general or project-specific briefs. The most talented and ambitious can become the chief executive officer or managing director. The FTSE 100 CEO Tracker has shown that having a finance background is a clear advantage for professionals looking to reach the CEO's chair -- more than one in two FTSE 100 CEOs have a background in finance.

5. CIMA can help you earn more

With a CIMA qualification you stand a greater chance of securing the top jobs. You've also got more bargaining power when it comes to negotiating pay. Research conducted by CIMA revealed that qualified members earned more than twice the national average in 2016, average earnings among qualified members reached £64,011 in 2016 (an increase of 1.9%), £36,411 more than the current average UK wage. Looking across industry, members within the banking sector were found to receive the highest average annual wage in 2016 (£85,334), followed by the Construction & Property and Professional Services industries. In contrast, students within the legal sector were paid the highest average amount (£42,603) followed by Banking and Education (calculate your salary here). To assess potential salaries for finance and accounting jobs, regardless whether you have a CIMA qualification yet, consult the Robert Half Salary Guide. This resource allows you to compare your earnings to other professionals working in the industry.

ACCA qualified and looking for career advice? Check out these 5 essential points to boost your career.

*The article has been updated and was originally published in April 2015.

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