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CIMA vs. ACCA

FinTram-Global

Are you looking for International career in Finance? Find out whether a CIMA or ACCA would suit your career ambition best…

There are certain stereotypes when it comes to becoming an accountant, but accounting bodies have made significant improvements to their qualifications so that accountants can help professional firms thrive.

So, if you’ve decided to take the first step to become a Global Accountant, and are confused between CIMA and ACCA, then let’s take a look at what both these courses can offer.

Both qualifications are highly appreciated all over the map, with hundreds and thousands of students currently pursuing one or the other.

Let’s take a look at the differences between the two to make an informed decision on which is right for your career.

Choosing CIMA or ACCA

The decision to choose CIMA or ACCA likely comes down to your long-term career ambitions. Each qualification gives you an option to specialize in different areas of accounting.

But they are professional exams, so there’s no difference between the difficulty or the time they take to complete.

CIMA Careers

CIMA is generally associated with a more business-focused career that will help prepare for future leadership and strategic roles.

CIMA involves passing 14 exams, although you could be exempt from some depending on your degree. It covers management accounting, business strategy and financial strategy.

CIMA vs. ACCA - FinTram Global

You should expect the CIMA qualification to open doors to a broad range of roles within the firm involving strategy and financial decisions.

Typically CIMA graduates go into a chartered management accountant role initially. This role varies depending on the company, but examples of responsibilities include:

  • Prepare financial statements that cover budgets, P&L accounts, cash flows and variance analysis
  • Monitor spending to keep it in line with budget
  • Inform major strategic decisions and formulate business strategies
  • Advice on business decisions and their financial implications
  • Analyze financial performance and contribute to medium and long-term business forecasts
  • Negotiate on big projects, loans and grants
  • Implement corporate governance procedures, risk management and internal controls.

The sky’s the limit for roles with excellent qualifications. And there are many CEO’s that are CIMA qualified to prove that it is not just limited to the finance area.

ACCA Careers

In contrast, ACCA’s Course traditionally emphasized auditing and compliance.

Like CIMA, there are 13 exams and exemptions available depending on your degree. It’s generally thought that ACCA gives you a good grounding in accounting principles than CIMA, but at the cost of management accounting principles.

ACCA affiliates are demanded in every sector by the Big Four accounting firms (which including, KPMG, PwC, E&Y, Deloitte) and multinationals like Citicorp, Nestle, JP Morgan, Microsoft, Siemens, Accenture and others.

ACCA members tend to join the private practice as consultants or move into areas involving financial assessments, planning and management. They are also demanded in the Public Sector, Banking, Financial Services, or the Corporate Sector.

Roles suited to an ACCA Qualified Professional:

  • Financial Planner
  • Financial Controller
  • Financial or Business Analyst
  • Management Accountant
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

In addition, recent syllabus changes to ACCA have expanded skillsets to offer pathways into companies that are not necessarily finance-based.

An ACCA Course provides you with real-world challenges allowing you to demonstrate a blend of technical, practical and professional skills and help solve problems that arise in the modern business era.

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ACCA & CIMA Salaries

An ACCA Qualified Professional in the United Kingdom can earn an average starting salary of £30,000 to £50,000 per annum while in India, this will be Rs. 4,00,000 to Rs. 8,00,000 per annum. This will be AED 48,000 to AED 84,000 in UAE.

For CIMA, the starting annual salary for newly qualified professionals in the United Kingdom, on average, ranges between £28,000 and £55,000 depending on job title and position.

These salaries will also increase depending upon your experience level.

Which accounting qualification is right for your Career?

Now you understand the two qualifications, how do you choose the right one for you?

You might want to base part of that decision on any benefit you get from your existing qualifications.

Both professional bodies will give a certain amount of exemptions, based on the credit; they give to your previous education. One or both may grant significant exemptions that shorten the time and expense of completing the remaining exams.

Another consideration is the time it might take, this is driven by exemptions and whether you will be a full-time or part-time student. Depending on the level of exemptions, they could take 2 to 3 years to complete. Both require 3 years of relevant work experience, with the completion of all the required exams.

Finally, you need to look out for your future career and which qualification might be more likely to get you there. One way is to identify the ideal job and look at the skills you think are required to reach that level.

Then consider which qualification you believe gives you the best path to getting there.

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