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Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)


Most accounting qualifications train people for private practice, working on external audit and tax issues. CIMA prepares people for a career in business. It teaches skills for strategic advice, managing risk and making key decisions. Our syllabus is designed to deliver a strong understanding of all aspects of business so our members can contribute in many areas of an organisation.

What is management accounting?

Management accounting combines accounting, finance and management with the leading edge techniques needed to drive successful businesses.
Chartered management accountants:

  • Conduct internal business audits.
  • Formulate business strategy.
  • Advise managers about the financial implications of projects.
  • Explain the financial consequences of business decisions.
  • Monitor spending and financial control.
  • Explain the impact of the  competitive landscape.
  • Bring a high level of professionalism and integrity to business.

The management accounting skillset

Our members are qualified to work across an organisation, not just in finance. In addition to strong accounting fundamentals, CIMA teaches strategic business and management skills:

  • Analysis – they analyse information and using it to make business decisions.
  • Strategy – they formulate business strategy to create wealth and shareholder value.
  • Risk – they identify and manage risk.
  • Planning – they apply accounting techniques to plan and budget.
  • Communication – they determine what information management needs and explain the numbers to non-financial managers.

Ethical code

CIMA members and students are required to comply with the CIMA code of ethics and to apply the fundamental principles of CIMA’s ethical code to their working lives. CIMA members are at the heart of business as its conscience, bringing judgment, independence and objectivity in addition to their professional qualification.

CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting The Certificate in Business Accounting is CIMA’s entry level accounting qualification for students with little or no accounting background. The certificate level gives you business experience beyond just financial accounting and you’ll gain insight into how the different areas of accounting relate to the business world.
It can be seen as a knowledge refresher course or a foundation to a career in business and finance. The Certificate in Business Accounting forms the basis of the CIMA Professional Qualification and is a valuable qualification on its own.

What do I need to get started?

You don’t need any formal qualifications to start this level. You will need a good understanding of both English and maths and a passion to succeed in business.
If you have any previous accounting experience you might be eligible for exemptions from subjects at this level.

What will I learn?

The certificate level consists of five subjects:






Fundamentals of management accounting

Fundamentals of financial accounting

Fundamentals of business mathematics

Fundamentals of business economics

Fundamentals of ethics, corporate governance and business law

You’ll achieve a solid understanding of basic accounting, management accounting and business principles. You’ll gain skills in preparing financial reports, forecasting performance and data analysis among many others.

How does it work?

This level offers a lot of flexibility to suit your personal circumstances. You can study full-time or part-time meaning you can work and learn at the same time. There are different ways to study depending on what works best for you. While tuition providers give students the best chance of passing, you can also study online with or by using official CIMA textbooks from CIMA publishing.

Exams can be taken in the order and combination you choose and at your own pace. Exams can be sat all through the year at over 5,000 computer based assessment (CBA) centres around the world. After passing all five exams you are awarded the Certificate in Business Accounting qualification. You can then proceed to the CIMA Professional Qualification, starting at the operational level.

See exam fees
Designatory letters
By completing the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting, you can gain the letters CIMA Cert BA after your name.

Professional qualification (2015 syllabus and assessment)

CIMA introduced an updated syllabus for its professional qualification and new assessment methods in January 2015.
What changed?
This updated syllabus and assessment bridges the skills gaps of newly qualified finance professionals worldwide, meeting the employability needs of both business and people. Our objective is to produce competent and confident management accounting professionals who guide and lead their organisations to sustainable success.

SYLLABUS 2015 Competency framework
Following comprehensive global research with employers of various sizes and in different sectors, we have developed a framework which shows the skills, abilities and competencies finance professionals need to drive the success of their organisations. New focus
The 2015 syllabus is competency-based; retaining the 2010 syllabus structure with its pillars and levels. It remains as strong as ever on the core accounting skills. We have added new material such as ‘Big Data’, sustainability, integrated reporting and finance function transformation. We have strengthened existing themes on costing and cost management, and carried the topic of ‘risk’ through all levels of the syllabus. We have also adjusted the weightings of some syllabus topics. Assessment
CIMA is the first global accountancy body to pioneer a combination of computerised assessments to examine our syllabus. Each subject is assessed not only by an objective test, but also by a case study which combines the knowledge and learning at each level of the qualification – resulting in nine objectives tests and three case studies. With all exams being computer-based, objective tests are available on demand, with four case study exam sittings per year.


WHY HAVE WE UPDATED THE QUALIFICATION? Our aim has been to ensure the syllabus remains relevant and the learning experience of candidates matches the real world of business. We have worked closer than ever before with employers, members and students around the world to make sure we deliver the necessary changes. Our focus has been on how to increase 'employability'.

For students, we have completed a rigorous update that will make them more employable.

For anybody thinking of enrolling with CIMA, we have created a business-ready qualification.

For employers, we have ensured the content remains relevant to global business so their employees have the skills and competencies needed to deliver sustainable success for their organization.

The many partners we work with – such as tuition providers – welcome our focus on assessment and the faster progression this brings.