ICAG vs CIMA: Which should you pick?


For many accounting and finance undergraduate students, acquiring a professional qualification is a priority because it gives them more technical competence and an advantage in the ever more competitive job market.

There are many professional qualifications out there and therefore making the decision as to what one should pick can sometimes be difficult. Among the most popular ones are Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

I have already compared ICAG and ACCA in a post, and I recommend that you read that one if you haven’t before continuing with this.

Reasons to choose ICAG

  1. Recognition in Ghana. ICAG oversees the accounting profession in Ghana. You cannot have the designation Chartered Accountant or CA unless you are a full member of the Institute. You cannot do that with a CIMA qualification until you apply to become a member of ICAG and fulfill the requirements to be admitted into membership.
  2. Financial Reporting is your main focus. If your career goals involve audit, ensuring statutory and regulatory compliance or financial reporting, then ICAG is a better fit for you.
  3. Cost. ICAG consists of fourteen papers and fees range from GH¢100 – GH¢150 per paper. That is more competitively priced than CIMA, which costs about £45 – £166 (GH¢227 – GH¢839.96) per paper.

Reasons to choose CIMA

  1. International Recognition. Although ICAG is a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and is thus globally recognized, CIMA is more easily recognized outside the country as members all over the world share the same certification. Also, they have recently partnered with American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to introduce a certification called Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) open to only CIMA and AICPA members.
  2. Management Accounting and Finance is your main focus. If you wish to pursue a career that is more about producing financial information for management than for external parties, CIMA is the better choice.
  3. Flexibility. CIMA consists of 12 computer-based papers. 9 are Objective Tests and are available on demand. 3 are case studies offered in four windows in a year. In comparison, the 14 ICAG papers are offered only twice in a year and none of them can be taken on demand.

I hope this post has helped you in your decision. I believe that the importance of your professional qualification in determining your career path reduces the higher you climb in your career. So do not be too obsessed about getting a qualification that absolutely matches your career goals. Your commitment to improving yourself and keeping abreast of the latest strategies to give your employer an edge over competition is what counts in the end.



Jerome Kuseh

Accountant | Economist-in-Training | Finance Blogger

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  1. Very educative. I appreciate your efforts. I’ve just completed my MBA Accounting and warning up to go for ICA.But, by my nature, I prefer Management Accounting and Finance stuffs but my problem is that, since am in Ghana, I need ICA more. Your post however helped me to decide now more effectively. Thank you. We bless God.

  2. You did not talk on the level of difficulty for both exams. I know CIMA to be difficult than both ACCA and ICA (GH). What is your take on this?

    • I believe all of these certifications are difficult to get but achievable with the right combination of preparation and determination. As to which one is more difficult I believe that is a subjective thing.

  3. If you are not computer literate you can’t do CIMA. We are in an information age.. IT skills is very important.. In my office we do not use pen..

  4. CFA and CIMA which is moderate to obtain. Learnt there is an institute in Ghana providing CFA program. Charted institute of financial and investment Analyst. Please want to know whether its a credible institute.

    • CFA is awarded by the CFA institute so I assume the Ghanaian institution provides lectures. I think generally, CFA is a tougher certification to get not lease because it requires 4 year’s post-qualification experience.



    Thanks so much for this interactive platform. Your explanations to those issues are quite clear. However, the comparisons are not satisfactory enough to me, as there are some other areas not covered by orientations so far. One such in long silence is honour of degrees (1st and 2nd) to ICAG graduates or partly qualified students.

    Unlike ACCA, ICAI (India) and some others, ICAG’s MoUs with the Ghanaian universities could be best described as mere ceremonies on its part, and a gain to university graduates only, as the institute is so adamant about the befitting privilege of its trainee accountants to also obtain degrees. Entrants with academic qualifications have a minimum of four (final level) papers to qualify. Yet, there is no MoU for even an ICAG member to obtain any academic degree.

    You may be projecting ICAG, but there are still more you could, such as forwarding concerns on this particular case of “partial” MoUs.


    Abubakari Ibrahim Baabu
    ICAG-Level 2

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