Finance and management are becoming increasingly intertwined. According to recruitment firm Robert Half, a quarter of FTSE 100 CEOs are qualified accountants.
CIMA – The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants is also constantly evolving. And while MBA degrees provide students with a holistic view of business, MBA grads are taking the CIMA qualification in order to stand out in a competitive job market.
“CIMA helped me get the role I’m currently in,” says Emma Lambden, who struggled to secure a job in finance after studying for an MBA via the Open University.
Conscious of the need to secure a formal accountancy qualification, she turned to CIMA’s Master’s Gateway, a fast-track route for MBA holders which exempts them from 12 exams. Soon after, she landed a multi-faceted commercial management role at IT services firm Redstor.
“CIMA gave a good understanding of the links between operational finance and strategic decision making,” she says. “[And] studying the Masters Gateway opened up opportunities in the job market.”
For Dr Noel Tagoe, executive director education, CIMA, this comes as no surprise. CIMA is the largest professional body of management accountants in the world, with over 200,000 students and members in more than 170 countries.
The CIMA qualification extends beyond the scope of traditional accountancy programs, covering both technical accounting and modern, management-focused topics, from big data to sustainability and leadership. CIMA students are assessed through task-based case studies which reflect today’s working environment.
“Our syllabus focuses on employability,” Noel explains. “CIMA members are armed not only with financial competence in the traditional accounting areas, but also competence in the wider business environment.”
Thus, CIMA is preparing accountants for a profession in which management skills are increasingly necessary. And MBA holders can profit from a globally-recognized professional qualification which better prepares them to meet employers’ ever-changing needs.
“MBA students who are also CIMA members are committed to continuous professional development keeping their knowledge and skills up to date,” Noel continues. “And employers can be assured of the same high quality professional qualification being undertaken wherever our members qualify across the globe.”
For Emma, the CIMA qualification complemented her UK-based MBA perfectly: “It makes you take a step back from the MBA to think on a more functional level,” she says.
“The MBA simply cannot teach you all CIMA can,” she continues. “It takes what you have learnt on your MBA and grounds your knowledge further with the theories, concepts and technical abilities that are needed to work in finance.”
Jerry Pu, an MBA graduate from the University of Hong Kong who took part in an exchange year at London Business School, agrees.
“We learnt accounting during the MBA, but it’s not comprehensive enough,” he says. “[With] CIMA, you get into the details of operations and mergers and acquisitions, and you truly understand the fundamentals that drive business.”
Accountants today, are no longer seen as “bean counters” but as financial services professionals with wider management responsibilities.
Jerry has worked in a variety of positions at global telecommunications firm Lebara, including head of customer insights and a special strategy consultant to the CEO role where he was closely involved in all aspects of the business.
“You need accounting knowledge for all the positions you work in,” he says. “Whether or not you have an MBA degree, if you really want to understand business operations and finance, the CIMA qualification is the one.”
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