Are you considering a career as a management accountant? If so, you will likely know the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and its practical experience program. But what exactly does this program entail, and how can it benefit your career growth?
This article will provide a comprehensive guide to the CIMA Practical Experience Requirement (PER), covering everything from eligibility requirements to the application process and the advantages of completing the program. Whether you're a recent graduate or a working professional looking to enhance your skills, this post will help you navigate the world of CIMA's PER and take your career to the next level.
What is CIMA Practical Experience?
The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) and Associate Chartered Management Accountant (ACMA) designations are highly sought-after professional qualifications that require applicants to have verified relevant professional experience.
This Practical Experience Requirement, or PER, is administered by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
The PER assesses an applicant's professional competence, credibility, and practical skills in management accounting. To become a CIMA-qualified professional, applicants must undergo an assessment by an approved supervisor and document their experience.
Completing the CIMA Practical Experience program is a critical milestone in the journey towards earning the CGMA designation and opens doors to many career opportunities.
CIMA PER Application Criteria
Your practical experience, skills, and achievements can begin at any point in your CIMA qualification journey. Candidates can submit their membership application after passing all objective test exams or if they have received exemptions. FLP students can submit their applications once they have completed all strategic-level competencies.
CIMA Practical Experience Requirements
The work experience should be relevant to management accounting or a related field and should demonstrate the application of knowledge and skills in areas such as:
- Management Accounting
- Finance Business Partnering
- Financial Accounting
- Professional Services and Consulting
- Financial and Management Reporting
- Financial Management
- Financial Planning and Analysis
- Performance Management
- Business Intelligence and Data Analysis
- Audit and Assurance
- Risk Management
CIMA recognises that its students and members have diverse job titles, so there isn't a set list of acceptable job titles. However, CIMA emphasises an individual's daily work activities and ensures that these align with the requirements for qualifying as a management accountant.
Additionally, CIMA requires individuals to have acquired the necessary professional skills and behavior expected of CIMA members. To determine if you are eligible for CIMA membership, your finance role should enable you to frequently exhibit the majority, if not all, of the following traits. The framework consists of six knowledge areas which are:
Technical Skills - Robust technical accounting skills are required to manage performance and implement strategies, create financial and non-financial information for decision-making, and provide trustworthy advice to colleagues within and outside the finance function.
Business Skills - Demonstrate an understanding of the business environment and offer insights and recommendations that add value to the business.
People - Building and maintaining relationships both within and outside the organisation, collaborating to achieve objectives, and communicating complex technical information effectively to accounting and non-accounting stakeholders.
Leadership Skills - Take ownership of workload and designated projects, effectively manage time, provide leadership to peers in finance and business partners, and serve as a role model.
Digital Skills - Use data and digital tools to analyse financial and non-financial information for managing performance and decision-making and adapt to digital work environments.
Ethics, integrity, and professionalism - Maintain the highest standards of professional competence and conduct, and apply ethics, integrity, and professionalism to all work activities.
Choosing Your CIMA PER Supervisor
The role of a CIMA PER supervisor is to offer direction, assistance, and evaluation to most CIMA students or members as they fulfill their practical experience requirements. The supervisor is accountable for ensuring that the individual acquires the required expertise and proficiencies to qualify as a professional management accountant. To select the best CIMA PER supervisor, one must take into account the following factors:
Experience - Look for a supervisor who has significant experience in the finance industry and has supervised CIMA PER candidates before. They should have a deep understanding of the CIMA program's existing requirements and expectations.
Availability - Choose a supervisor who is available and committed to providing regular feedback and support throughout the PER process. They should be accessible for meetings and discussions as needed.
Compatibility - It's important to choose a supervisor with whom you have a good rapport and can communicate effectively. They should understand your learning style and be able to provide guidance tailored to your needs.
Industry and Job Relevance - Select a supervisor with experience in a field relevant to your job or career aspirations. They should be able to provide practical advice and guidance relevant to your situation.
Choosing the right CIMA PER supervisor is vital to meet the practical experience requirement successfully. Your supervisor must offer the guidance and support you need to develop the skills and competencies necessary to become a qualified accountant.
Duration of the CIMA Practical Experience
The PER consists of activities or competency categories that must be documented over a period of at least 36 months. These activities should demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities in areas such as financial management, strategy, operations, risk management, decision-making, and stakeholder relationships.
In addition, CIMA suggests that it is vital for individuals to regularly evaluate whether their current practical experience meets the required standards, approximately every six to twelve months. They can use the self-reflection questions and examples provided by CIMA during their development discussions with their supervisor to identify any areas where their skills and experience may be lacking.
Keeping CIMA Practical Experience Records
CIMA provides a STAR format that enables candidates to move beyond merely logging or describing their experience and actions. This format assists them in discussing the impact of their actions and how their work contributes value to their organisation.
Situation - In order to demonstrate professional achievement, it's important to briefly describe the context of a significant and challenging situation that you have encountered. This will enable you to choose a suitable example that showcases your accomplishments.
Task - Emphasise your particular roles and obligations within the scenario. CIMA will evaluate your performance, so it's necessary to discuss how you exhibited the core activity, skill, or behavior.
Action - Provide an account of the steps you took to fulfill your responsibilities and how these demonstrate the specific skill or behavior that CIMA is assessing.
Result - Explain how you used your expertise to offer insights and affect the situation's outcome, and emphasise the resulting impact on your organisation.
It is recommended to have a word count between 500-600 words for each STAR template and to follow the prompt questions carefully to ensure that all essential details are provided.
Record of Employment History
The form is divided into two distinct sections in this particular segment. Separating these sections allows for a more organised and structured approach to the task at hand, making it easier for candidates to understand and complete the form.
A. Verified experience
In this particular section of the assessment form, you must provide a concise summary of each of your roles, along with their respective responsibilities. Additionally, you are also asked to furnish an overview of the organisation(s) you have worked for, which includes its purpose, the products and/or services it offers, the sector and/or industry it operates in, as well as the size and structure of the organisation.
Furthermore, you should also include a link to the organisation's website, as this will provide valuable context and background information for the subsequent 'Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR)” templates that you will be required to complete later in the assessment. Although your PER supervisor(s) may already be well-versed in the context of your work and the organisation where you are currently or were previously employed, it is important to note that your assessment will undergo additional scrutiny and quality assurance checks by CIMA assessors.
B. Additional Employment History
Candidates have two options: they can either provide a link to their LinkedIn profile or fill out a table with a summary of their employment history beyond the roles they are using to claim verified relevant experience. It is important to note that candidates do not need to provide the same level of detail for these additional roles as they would for verified experience, and they do not need to identify a PER supervisor for these roles.
This information is useful for the assessors to better understand the candidate's overall employment history and to gain context for their verified experience. Providing this information may also give candidates an opportunity to showcase other relevant experiences that may not have been included in their verified experience.
Record of Professional Achievement: Core Work Activities
The core activities for experience evaluation refer to the work tasks that you should be consistently performing in a relevant position towards the end of your PER period, which is typically after three years into your finance career. These core activities have a direct correlation to the core activities evaluated in the Management Case Study exam, presenting a clear connection between your studies, assessments, and practical application of these activities in a real-world scenario.
To prove that you have fulfilled the core requirements, you need to showcase that you have accomplished three out of five essential activities. It is advised to select the three that best match your past experience, allowing you to provide strong examples from recent times to support your choice.
- I am capable of assessing prospects to enhance value.
- I am proficient in executing strategic choices.
- I possess the skills to control costs and performance to support value generation.
- I am capable of gauging performance.
- I can proficiently manage both internal and external stakeholders.
Record of Professional Achievement: Skills and Behaviors
Management accountants have developed skills and behaviors that support work activities and are vital for finance professionals to succeed at all career stages. These skills and behaviors will be utilised and enhanced during their professional development. Five critical skills or behaviors have been identified for initial professional development, and each includes a set of self-reflection questions to help individuals think of activities that could contribute to the success of their organisation.
- Ethics and integrity
- Leadership Skills
- Growth mindset
- Professional skepticism
Assessing CIMA PER Achievement
Assessors will utilise a set of criteria along with the core activity and skill/behavior descriptors to evaluate the required professional achievements. This evaluation will be conducted by PER supervisors and CIMA Assessors, and candidates should keep these criteria in mind while answering the assessment questions (STAR template). The criteria should be used as a checklist to ensure that candidates provide relevant and comprehensive information in their submissions.
By doing so, candidates can ensure that they provide sufficient information to meet the standard for each professional achievement, as judged by the assessors. It's important to remember that they are looking for evidence that demonstrates a clear understanding of the core activities and required skills/behaviors, so candidates should focus on providing relevant and specific details to showcase their achievements.
- The selected task is unsuitable, either too small or insufficient to showcase professional achievement.
- The task does not exemplify the assigned core activity or skill/behavior.
- The task description is either missing or too brief.
- The individual role and responsibilities within the task are not clearly defined.
- The description of the actions taken to complete the task is insufficient, and it may describe team actions rather than individual actions.
- The outcome of the candidate's actions is not adequately discussed, with no insight into how those actions impact business outcomes or contribute value to the organisation.
- The task is substantial and demanding enough to showcase professional accomplishment.
- The task effectively illustrates the assigned core activity or skill/behavior.
- The task is accurately defined.
- Clearly defined role and responsibilities of the individual within the task.
- Individual actions taken to complete the task are explicitly stated.
- A thorough discussion of the outcomes of one's actions demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of how actions impact business results and contribute to organisational value.
CIMA Practical Experience Submission Process
Before submitting your application, you must save your completed Record of my Practical Experience along with all PER supervisor forms in a single PDF file. The application should be sent to email@example.com. After submitting your application, it will take approximately eight weeks to receive confirmation of your CIMA-certified status.
It's important to keep in mind that the associate membership application fee of £180 must be paid beforehand, and to make your payment, you can either:
- Call CIMA global 24/7 payment hotline with a debit or credit card
- Based in the UK: 0208 602 0861, or 0844 292 0240
- Outside of the UK : +44 0208 602 0861
- Send a cheque, money order, UK postal order, or sterling bank draft. Write your contact ID on the back of your cheque made payable to CIMA and send it to: CIMA, The Helicon, One South Place, London, EC2M 2RB, United Kingdom
Completing the CIMA practical experience program is a critical milestone toward earning the CGMA designation and provides a wealth of career opportunities in management accounting. Eligibility requirements for the program include relevant work experience that demonstrates technical, business, people, leadership, digital, and ethical skills. To meet the requirements, applicants must undergo an assessment by an approved supervisor and document their experience, which should include activities or individual competencies that demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
If you have any further inquiries regarding the CIMA qualification, feel free to contact us at VIVA. We are committed to providing you with the necessary assistance and resources to ensure your success as a CIMA student.
Start learning from as little as £34 per CIMA course.