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CIMA® After CA: Worth The Effort for Another Designation?

To know, is it worth having CIMA® after CA, let us understand what CIMA® actually is? It stands for Chartered Investment and Management Accounting (CIMA®) and is one of the top American qualifications for Accounting professionals issued by the CIMA Institute, American Council of Professional Accountants.  This certification qualifies one with dual specializations – one in Investment Accounting and another in Management Accounting.

So for a qualified CA, the biggest value CIMA® brings is to additionally equip the professional with investment accounting and management accounting knowledge and qualification. These additions serve to open up additional opportunity for a CA with CIMA® to work with specialized industries such as investment banks, hedge funds, mutual funds, brokerage firms etc. and differentiates them from the rest of the professionals who have only the CA qualification.

Another important aspect is that the CA curriculum neither covers the highly specialized investment accounting, nor management accounting sub-disciplines in as much detail as accountants today must necessarily know. Not to be missed at all, CIMA® USA is entirely woven around global accounting standards, preparing CAs for global roles and assignments.

CIMA® thus serves to enhance career opportunities for chartered accountants equipping them for diverse industries and roles cutting across virtually all leading accounting domains – financial accounting; management accounting and investment accounting. To summarize, from a specialist in disclosure accounting addressing merely the statutory stakeholders, the CIMA® qualification transforms a qualified CA into a prized financial intellect of high strategic business value for employers.

Empirically, their investment accounting knowledge prepares qualified CIMA® USA professionals to work with specialized industries such as investment banks, hedge funds, mutual funds, brokerage firms etc.,  whereas, their knowledge in management accounting opens doors even across diverse non-finance industries.

Generally Chartered Accountants work either as a Financial Accountants in organizations or practice as Auditors or Tax Experts in CA Firms, or have their own CA firms offering financial accounting, tax management and audit services to clients for statutory purposes.

However, with the advent of advanced software applications, the conventional statutory and financial accounting roles are increasingly automating, challenging the relevance of conventional public accounting or chartered accounting. Hence for going beyond this, accounting professionals, CPAs and CAs require additional knowledge – be it in financial planning, or financial analysis, or investment accounting, management accounting or even risk management.

That’s exactly where qualifications like CIMA® help. With additional qualification like CIMA® (USA), finance and accounting professionals significantly expand their career landscape and can look at roles of investment accountant or management accountant. As a practicing CA, you can harness your CIMA® qualification to enlarge the scope of services you can offer to clients and employers beyond auditing, tax management and financial accounting across more diverse industries. 

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The CA  – CIMA®  Synergy

The CA program focuses on developing knowledge in the area of audit and assurance, financial accounting and reporting, business and applied finance, cost accounting and taxation, whereas CIMA® (USA) focuses on more strategic areas that generate financial intelligence for organizations. Important CIMA® attention areas include investment accounting, management accounting, investment analysis, business and finance strategy, financial market and asset valuation, global business, planning and risk management; forex risk management; global financial reporting and transfer pricing management.

While this may indicate some coverage overlap between CA and CIMA® to some, a detailed comparison of the knowledge themes of the two programs clearly differentiate them as very distinct, and yet complementing each other. However, the fact that the CA is woven around India tax, accounting and corporate laws; and CIMA USA is an out and out global qualification hinged on international accounting standards – this synergy makes CIMA® an ideal companion qualification for qualified chartered accountants.


If you are a Chartered Accountant then CIMA® (USA) offers exam-exemptions in 7 modules (out of 20). Also, the chances of a qualified CA passing the CIMA® (USA) is very high, thanks to a strong base in accounting, economics and finance. It is much easier for qualified CAs to prepare for the CIMA® exam as background concepts and skills of many CIMA® knowledge themes match with those of courses in the CA syllabus. Do not forget that under the special CIMA pathway, if you are a qualified CA then you are required to qualify only one, unified Professional Pathway exam covering only  13 of the standard 20 knowledge areas. The standard CIMA® program otherwise has two exams – Level 1 and Level 2.

Going by the above, you can confidently go ahead to top your well-earned CA with the career-powering, double-specialization CIMA® USA qualification.

CIMA® (USA) and CA, both provide their unique benefits, and it’s not a matter of one credential being better than the other, but a matter of which one is better for your career and interests.

The CA in India is considered as a professional degree and is Indian Accounting professional license, while the CIMA® is a globally recognized certification in investment accounting and management accounting.

The CA is most appropriate for professionals seeking to work in public practice work such as:

• Accounting and tax services

• Auditing and other attestation services

• Consulting services

CIMA® certification is more appropriate for professionals seeking work in multinational corporations, investment banking, brokerage firms, mutual funds, hedge funds etc. , and also other business entities. People may choose a different field of work based on their interest and overall other industry experience.

A person who gets a CA degree and the professional license typically begins work as a public accountant (generally in tax and auditing), while a person who gets a CIMA® certification often works as a investment accountant and as management accountant but may work in a wide range of other fields as strategic adviser.


One of the first career decisions accounting students and accounting professionals make is whether to pursue their CA (Chartered Accountancy) or CIMA® (Chartered Investment & Management Accounting)— but who said you have to choose one or the other? Particularly for CAs, dual certification can be immensely rewarding.

Here are a few reasons why:

1. Differentiate yourself from your colleagues

2. Command an even higher salary

3. Better serve your clients and add value to your employer

4. Pave a path to management

5. Prepare for both exams efficiently with overlapping content

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