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Support while studying for CIMA exams?

#1 Support while studying for CIMA exams?
21/07/2008 19:04


Hello all

I am graduating in 2009, and want to pursue a career in finance consulting. So I am considering studying CIMA or ACCA.

I’ve looked into it, and it seems like a long and an expensive slog (about £6k over 3 years). Ouch!

Obviously, I’d like an employer to support me in this, but who offers the best study package, and how does it work? Do you usually have to pay a proportion, or do they refund you when you pass? Also, how much study leave can you get at each stage? Do you have to repay it if you leave soon after you pass your exams?

Lots of questions, but I hope someone out there can help

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#2 RE: Support while studying for CIMA exams?
21/07/2008 20:33

H to Newbie (#1)

You should visit your university careers service and pick up one of the guides to accounting careers that you'll find there. Or visit one of the graduate careers websites, such as:

A third source of this information is the CIMA ( and ACCA websites.

As a tip, you will not have much luck looking for this information under consulting careers - your principal "search term" should be accounting careers.

Good luck with your final year and finding a job - you'll need it!

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#3 RE: Support while studying for CIMA exams?
21/07/2008 20:47

asun to H (#2)

So what course should one do to get a job in MC?

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#4 RE: Support while studying for CIMA exams?
21/07/2008 20:48

anon to Newbie (#1)

If you want to go into finance, you should first try to go for the ACA. It's far superior to either CIMA or ACCA.

You'll probably have to work as an auditor for the three year study period (at PWC, KPMG, etc.), but it'll be worth it. The job opps for ACAs are much better (along with the money). Plus, you'll probably find it more difficult to reach the higher echelons of a finance function with CIMA.

Go into consulting after qualifying if you still want to.

If you're at all interested in finance, go for ACA at a Big 4 as your first stop. You can't go wrong. ACA at a smaller firm is still better than CIMA at reasonable blue chip.

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#5 RE: Support while studying for CIMA exams?
22/07/2008 11:09

z to anon (#4)

The original poster said they wanted to get into finance consulting.

Assuming by that they mean F&PM, finance function consulting stuff then working in Industry and studying CIMA is a better choice. The reason for that being that you will actually work in a finance function rather than just being someone who rocks up to a company every 6 months and is hidden away in a room with a set of accounts to look through. Blue chip firms are usually great at supporting studies too, just as the Big 4 are.

To say that doing an ACA at a small firm is better than CIMA at a FTSE 100 is frankly laughable and would severely limit your chances of getting in to Big 4 / IBM / Acn / Cap F&PM teams.

Don't get me wrong, doing an ACA at a Big 4 also gives you the opportunity to make the move but it's wrong to portray it as the best or only way.

Essentially I'd say the choice between Big 4 ACA and FTSE 100 CIMA comes down to a personal decision on a) the kind of work you want to do - does working in a finance function appeal more than an audit team? b) cash - you'll get more at Big 4 and c) location - on a finance grad scheme in Industry you'll probably be based regionally whereas Big 4 you'll be city based and travel to clients

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#6 RE: Support while studying for CIMA exams?
22/07/2008 11:54

Ned Flanders to z (#5)


Firstly, well done for thinking ahead.

I thought I'd try and answer some of your questions first:

1. Very few people take on a qualification like CIMA, ACA ACCA or similar without the sponsorship of a firm.

2. Sponsorship will usually mean: work for your employer 85% of the time - have study leave 15% of the time.

3. Study leave will usually be just enough to get you pass the exam. Some employers (especially Big4 - so ACA and ACCA) can be very strict on the resit criteria - ie, fail once and you'll be out. Smaller outfits will be more lenient usually.

4. You don't usually pay anything (unless its a resit). Your salary will probably be lower than say other grad jobs (probably not by much) and they'll pay your college hours, books, study leave and exam fees.

5. You rarely have to pay back any money to your employer if you leave early (unless you're taking the mick, but even then its rare they chase you) - you'll usually want to stay on long enough to time qualify (2.5/3 years) - after that its quite common to leave.

Hope that helps!

Ned Flanders

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#7 RE: Support while studying for CIMA exams?
23/07/2008 21:19

anon to z (#5)


I stand by my original point. ACA is considerably superior to CIMA or ACCA. Big4 ACA wins hands down. Admittedly, it is probably closer between smaller practice ACA and blue chip CIMA, but I'd still take the former.

Your suggestions of how the original poster should make his/her decision are rather short-sighted. Yes, they've said that they want to go into consulting, but that's rarely a career that lasts forever (not even sure you can join as a graduate into F&PM consulting?). ACA will serve you better if you switch to industry side.

btw, I've worked in both an F&PM unit and industry finance.

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#8 RE: Support while studying for CIMA exams?
24/07/2008 10:13

z to anon (#7)


Where did I say they should join an F&PM team as a grad?

I've also worked in Industry previously and now is an F&PM team and - whether you like it or not - non Big 4 ACAs with experience of auditing Bloggs and Son Shoe Repairers don't get a look in. Those with CIMA and experience of working in a FTSE100 finance function, on the other hand, are in demand.

And if ACA would serve you better on the Industry side, why do they all run CIMA programmes?

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#9 RE: Support while studying for CIMA exams?
25/07/2008 11:43

cons to z (#8)

Agree that Big 4 ACA is (in your early 20s) the best thing to do if you want a career in finance. However, no consulting house will pick up an ex auditor at experienced hire level straight of the back of being ACA qualified. Much better to start in consulting/business and do the CIMA option and get (nearly) the best of both worlds.

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#10 RE: Support while studying for CIMA exams?
19/12/2008 11:14

Harry to cons (#9)

I work in finance in a bank. I would like to move to F&PM consultancy. In response to the last post, clearly need to keep my job given markets, should I do the CIMA option where I am - as in I do not think my role covers getting a "start in consulting/business ... best of both worlds" ?

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#11 RE: Support while studying for CIMA exams?
31/12/2008 17:49

bob to Harry (#10)

I am in my final year at uni. Along with my final year stuff I am doing CIMA as it gives me a different aspect to business.

I personally think its an excellent course, it will surely help me out when graduating.

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