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ACCA vs CIMA: What’s the Difference?

Published by on Dec 02, 2020, 11:47 am

Are you interested to become an accountant in the future? Good for you! The accountant is one of the most lucrative careers out there thanks to its high demand among various sectors in the world. Now that you’ve made your decision, you just need to enrol yourself in an accounting diploma or degree programme, and voila, you’re set!


Not exactly. If you plan to become a really good accountant, professional qualifications will help you to be ahead of the race. Some of the more popular accounting professional qualifications are CIMA and ACCA. But what’s the difference between these two qualifications and which one you should pursue? Today, we’ll break it down just for you.


What is ACCA?

ACCA, which stands for Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, is a body for professional accountants and is recognised globally, with over 227,000 members in 176 countries.

The ACCAs provides a strong foundation in core principles of accounting, as you will gain technical knowledge in the field of accounting and finance as well as other areas such as organizational management and strategy. The ACCA tends to be more focused on financial accounting and technical practices of accountancy which is why industry evidence suggests that the ACCA will give you a stronger grounding in accounting principles.


What is the duration of ACCA?

Between 2-4 years.


How many papers are in ACCA?

Consisting of a series of 13 professional exams that you need to pass, ACCA also recommends you do the practical experience along with passing your exams if you can.

Upon completion of ACCA’s Ethics and Professional Skills module, their Strategic Professional exams plus 3 years of relevant working experience, you will be a Chartered Certified Accountant. This is a term only ACCA members can hold.


Careers prospects under ACCA?

With the ACCA, you can embark on a journey to be a:


What is CIMA?

CIMAs, on the other hand, is a combination of MBA and CA. CIMA stands for Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and reported 281,467 students and 106,095 members in 2017.

CIMA focuses on solid accounting concepts but because business skills are at the heart of the CIMA qualification, it also covers business and management accounting subjects, information management, strategy, strategic marketing & management and finance management.


What is the duration?

Between 2-4 years.


How many papers are in CIMA?

Launched in November 2019, the new CIMA syllabus comprises 16 exams (depending on exemptions), three of which are case studies. While the case studies can only be sat quarterly, the remaining 13 exams are on demand, giving you greater flexibility about when to study.

The CIMA qualification combines exams at four stages with three years of practical experience.


Career prospects under CIMA?

With a CIMA qualification under your belt, these careers will suit you well:


So, Which One Should You Choose?

It's a tough choice because both CIMA and ACCA are both international qualifications that are globally accepted and highly regarded qualifications in Finance and Accounting. It all depends on your personal career aspirations and fit for job profiles. would recommend ACCA for graduates looking for a career primarily in practice, audit or tax with a flair for numbers and compliance. Meanwhile, CIMA would be a best fit if you're looking for a career primarily in business and industry with a flair for strategy and commercial awareness and possessing good interpersonal skills


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