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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.