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Difference between CIMA and ACCA


The Professional qualification of accountancy has become very important because of the complex business structures and the ever growing requirements of the industry. In a growing financial market, the professional accountants are not only required to deal with the business taxation or bookkeeping, but are also required to be the highly qualified financial experts. This is the reason why worldwide accountancy bodies are making continuous efforts to stay up to date with the recent advancements and changes in the world of finance and accounting. More and more career opportunities are now available for accountants who hold a professional certification because they are competent and have better knowledge of the profession.

Individuals, who want to begin their professional career in accountancy, have so many options to choose from. Two of the most talked about study options are ACCA and CIMA. Recent graduates and professionals usually face a problem of choosing between these two recognized professional certifications. They don’t know the difference between these accounting qualifications. Therefore, some of the differences are discussed below so that graduates and professionals find it easier to understand what these certifications offer and which one of the two qualifications they should choose. But before discussing the difference, it is important to know what ACCA and CIMA are.

What is ACCA?

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a professional body for accountants across the globe. It is a member of the International Federation of Accountants, also known as IFAC. The aim of ACCA is to offer a diversified qualification for professionals who seek professional growth and have the ability and goal to pursue a rewarding career in finance, management and accountancy. ACCA offers you an excellent opportunity to study a globally relevant qualification and polish your accountancy skills along with gaining a specialized knowledge based on your aptitude and the qualification you already have. It helps you build a successful career as a professional accountant.

ACCA strongly adheres to governance, ethics and professional values. The motive of ACCA is to act in the public interest by working with professional bodies, governments, employers and regulators to establish an accountancy profession worldwide.

What is CIMA?

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants or CIMA, on the other hand, is a professional accountancy body that offers a certification in management accounting and relevant subjects. It is a UK based professional body and mainly focuses on finance qualification for business. It is a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). Many professional certifications of accounting offer training in external audit, private practice and taxation issues. CIMA, however, prepare individuals to pursue a career in business. It enables individuals to develop skills in risk management and strategic decision making.

CIMA focuses on strategic management and business skills so that accountants can formulate business strategies, assess information to make business decisions, determine which information is required by management, and apply different accounting techniques in planning and budgeting. All the members and students of CIMA are required to adhere to the CIMA code of ethics and should practice objectivity and independence in making professional decisions.


Following are some of the differences between ACCA and CIMA:

Courses Offered


ACCA offers a total of 16 courses out of which students are required to take 14 exams. First nine courses are covered under Fundamental Level and the remaining courses are covered under Professional Level. Subjects include, F1 Accountant in Business, F2 Management Accounting, F3 Financial Accounting, F4 Corporate and Business Law, F5 Performance Management, F6 Taxation, F7 Financial Reporting, F8 Audit and Assurance, F9 Financial Management, P1 Governance, Risk and Ethics, P2 Corporate Reporting, P3 Business Analysis, P4 Advanced Financial Management, P5 Advanced Performance Management, P6 Advanced Taxation, and P7 Advanced Audit and Assurance. Last four courses are optional and students are allowed to take any two optional papers.

Once a student passes all the exams, he becomes an ACCA affiliate. However, affiliates are required to have three years relevant work experience in order to be an ACCA member.


There are four levels of CIMA and each level is designed for the continuous development knowledge and skills required for the business. Level one is Operational level and includes three exams, E1 Enterprise Operations, P1 Performance Operations, and F1 Financial Operations. Candidates, who have passed this level, receive a CIMA Diploma in Management Accounting. Level two is Management level and includes, E2 Enterprise Management, P2 Performance Management, and F2 Financial Management. After passing level two, students receive the CIMA Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting. Third one is Strategic Level in which a student has to take 3 examinations, such as, E3 Enterprise Strategy, P3 Performance Strategy, and F3 Financial Strategy.

The last level is Professional Level, which consists of two parts. In Part A, CIMA students are required to prepare and submit a career profile to assess their skills development and the practical experience they gain. Students are required to have a three years relevant experience to get CIMA membership. Part B is a case study based exam. It is a three hour exam in which a student is required to apply strategic management accounting techniques and make decisions under a simulated business environment.

Examination Structure


ACCA examinations are held twice a year in June and December around the world and students are required to register till 8 April for the June exam sitting, and the last date for registration is 8 October for December exams.


On the other hand, CIMA exams are globally held in May and November every year. Students are required to submit their exam fees till March of every year for May attempt, and for November attempt, the fees should be submitted till September.



ACCA professional accountants typically pursue a career in audit and taxation or as a financial expert. The purpose of ACCA is to harmonize the accountancy profession worldwide in order to streamline the accounting processes of the multinationals and local companies.


CIMA accountants mostly choose a career path in strategic based roles in businesses and industries. As discussed earlier, CIMA professionals focus on strategic management and business skills so as to formulate business strategies and make decisions after assessing the relevant information.

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  1. My son wants to do ACCA

  2. ACCA provides a way to work in accounting, finance, audit, and taxations. CIMA only related to finances field work. Your blog really clears our confusion related career and study.

  3. Is it possibly to do Acca and cima at both times or one after another

  4. ACCA is the best way to pursue your career in taxation and audit.

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