The CIMA Finance Leadership Program (FLP) is creating a buzz in the industry. Whether you're already a CIMA student or considering becoming one, it's worth understanding all your options - and CIMA'S FLP route is one such option.
In this article, we'll take a deep dive into CIMA FLP and provide you with a comprehensive overview of this exciting program. From its benefits and structure to its eligibility criteria and application process, we'll cover everything you need to know to make an informed decision about whether CIMA FLP is the right choice for you.
So, let's get into it!
What Is CIMA FLP?
The CIMA Finance Leadership Program is an innovative digital option for students to complete the CIMA qualification and earn the prestigious CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant) designation. This program is designed for students who prefer a self-directed approach to learning, allowing them to complete the program in a self-paced digital environment.
What are the objectives of CIMA FLP?
The program's primary objective is to enhance your strategic thinking and problem-solving abilities. CIMA uses theoretical and practical training, interactive sessions, and case studies to achieve this goal. Through these methods, participants are encouraged to assess business challenges critically, identify the key drivers of success, and suggest creative solutions.
Another goal of theirs is to foster a global mindset among the participants. In today's interconnected world, it is vital to appreciate the effects of global trends and cultural sensitivity. The program offers a range of international perspectives, enabling participants to comprehend global business dynamics better and acquire a broader outlook on business challenges. This exposure to diverse perspectives helps prepare participants to be more effective in various business settings. 
What Are the Benefits Of CIMA FLP?
The CIMA Finance Leadership Program (FLP) offers a range of potential benefits for young finance professionals looking to advance their careers. Here are some of the key advantages of the program:
#1 Enhanced Skills
The CIMA FLP covers a broad range of topics, including financial management, business strategy, leadership, and more. By completing the program, participants develop a wide range of skills highly valued by employers in the finance and the advanced management accounting industries. (To clarify: this is also one of the benefits of the traditional CIMA professional qualification route!)
#2 International Recognition
CIMA FLP is recognised by employers and professional bodies around the world, including the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). This recognition is a testament to the program's quality and its high standards.  (Again, this also applies to the traditional CIMA professional qualification route)
#3 Professional Network
Participants in the FLP program have the opportunity to build relationships with other working professionals from around the world. This can be a valuable resource for career advancement and professional development.
#4 Practical Learning
The program allows participants to develop a deep understanding of the concepts and principles that underpin the finance profession. By engaging in real-world scenarios and problem-solving exercises, participants can put their knowledge into practice and develop the skills and competencies needed to succeed in their roles.
Moreover, practical learning helps participants build their confidence and increase their ability to communicate effectively with stakeholders. By engaging in simulations, participants can develop their communication skills and learn how to convey complex financial information clearly and concisely.
Difference Between CIMA FLP and the CIMA Professional Qualification
The CIMA Financial Leadership Programme (FLP) is a new, alternative route to becoming CIMA qualified that sits alongside CIMA's Professional Qualification. The FLP is a digital-first learning program similar in scope and rigor to the Professional Qualification but offers a different approach to acquiring the CGMA designation.
The FLP replaces Objective Tests Questions (OTQs) with an online learning environment, allowing students to learn independently and receive feedback from experienced finance professionals. It also includes assessments such as case studies and simulations designed to evaluate students' ability to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios.
What are the Disadvantages of CIMA FLP?
While some students will undoubtedly appreciate the structure provided by CIMA's FLP platform, and the replacement of the Obective Test exams with ongoing assessments, there are potential downsides to pursuing the FLP route. Below we cover some of these potential disadvantages.
Perhaps the most obvious, is cost!
#1 Higher Cost
One potential downside is that the CIMA FLP route may be costlier than certain alternatives. For instance, students who wish to study for CIMA independently may find more cost-effective alternative study routes (for example, by using a tuition provider such as VIVA Financial Tuition!). What costs are acceptable of course will vary from student to student, and may also depend on how much financial support the student has access to.
You can find a full overview of the FLP costs here on CIMA's website (simply scroll down to the pricing tables). As you can see, if you choose a one year subscription, it can range from £1,920 for the "Skills Core" option to £3,600 for the full "Skills Premium" option. It's important to note also that only the Skills Plus and Skills Premium options include the exam fees for the Case Study exams - which are still compulsory under the FLP route.
The two- and three-year subscription options do constitute some savings over paying the subscription on a year-by-year basis (the 3-year Skills Plus option costs £6,120 while the 3-year Skills Premium option costs £9,180).
Below you can find a screenshot of CIMA's various FLP subscription options with the 1-year pricing for each. Click on the image to explore the full pricing regimes.
(Note all prices above and below are valid as of March 6th, 2023)
#2 Case Study Support
While opinions on whether a certain level of tuition or support is "enough" are somewhat subjective, we have heard from some students that they needed to seek additional Case Study exam support outside of what was included with their FLP subscription in order to pass their exams. Some students felt the need to pay for additional Case Study tuition from third party providers to help them pass their Case Study exams. This is another potential cost to factor into your calculation of whether or not to pursue the FLP program.
#3 Objective Tests and Preparedness for Case Study Exams
Again, some students found that, having completed full Objective Test (OT) courses and exams, they were better prepared theoretically when it came to the Case Study exams at that level. Now while this may differ from student to student, the consensus certainly seems to be that the OT exams are more challenging overall than the ongoing assessments incorporated into the FLP program. Correspondingly, students who pass their OT exams have expressed then feeling better equipped when approaching the Case Study exams - which involve application of E, F and P knowledge to the Case Study scenarios.
How Do I Register for the CIMA FLP?
First, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements for the program (see below).
Once you've determined that you meet the criteria for registration, it's time to get started. During registration, CIMA will review your status, location, and other relevant information to ensure you are eligible for the program. After providing your details, your country representative will contact you with further instructions on registering.
The FLP includes learning modules and assessments designed to help prepare you for the CIMA qualification exam. You'll also gain access to business simulations and finance skills certificates as part of the program.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for CIMA FLP?
The CGMA Finance Leadership Program welcomes individuals with bachelor's degrees or diplomas in technical accounting, finance, or business. Irrespective of age and experience, the program is accessible to all with these qualifications. This is the general guideline for your ideal entry point:
Bachelor’s degree with a major in accounting or finance = Management Level
Bachelor’s degree or higher with a major in business = Operational Level
If you already hold a professional qualification or credential from an accredited accounting body, you may be eligible for an accelerated entry into the CGMA Finance Leadership Program. This means you can skip certain parts of the program and complete it in a shorter time. The CGMA Finance Leadership Program recognises several professional qualifications and credentials verified against the CGMA Competency Framework.
What Is the Estimated Timeline for Completing CIMA FLP?
The estimated timeline for completing the CGMA Finance Leadership Program can vary depending on factors such as your prior knowledge and experience, the amount of time you can dedicate to studying, and whether or not you have any exemptions based on prior qualifications.
Generally, it takes around 12 months to complete the program, but this can vary depending on how quickly you can work through the material. You have the flexibility to find a learning provider that fits your needs, timeline, and preferred learning format.
It is also important to consider that the Case Study exams are available quarterly. It is advisable to allocate 4 to 6 weeks to study the pre-read materials for exam preparation. After the exam, the results will typically be released around 7 weeks later.
The Finance Leadership Program Structure
The FLP is structured into three progressive levels, each building on the knowledge and competencies acquired in the preceding level. If you hold a related prior qualification or degree, you may qualify to skip some of the program's levels, thus enabling you to achieve your CGMA designation faster.
Operational Learning Level
This covers topics such as data analytics, budgeting, regulatory frameworks, cost accounting, and finance technologies. Participants will learn how to apply these concepts and gain valuable experience in short-term decision-making. The exam for this level is the Operational Case Study Exam.
Management Learning Level
On this level, learners will focus on translating long-term decisions into medium-term plans. They will build on what they have learned at the operational level to gain knowledge and skills in cost management, financial statement analysis, business performance, people management, and leadership.
Strategic Learning Level
This is designed to ensure that finance professionals have the knowledge to understand risk and finance strategies to succeed in the global economy. The course covers topics such as financial objectives, risk oversight, internal controls, regulatory compliance, strategy formulation, and execution. The exam for this level is the Strategic Case Study Exam.
What Is the Pricing Structure Of CIMA FLP?
The CGMA Finance Leadership Program is available in three active subscription options: one year, two years, and three years. Each subscription option provides candidates with adequate time to complete the program, depending on their pace and circumstances. The program's flexibility in subscription options allows candidates to choose the option that best suits their needs, ensuring they can complete the program without feeling rushed or pressured.
CIMA has provided a pricing breakdown with three options for purchasing their services (linked above). Let's say you opt for a one-year "Skills Plus" subscription because your entry point is at the strategic level - that will cost you £2,400 ($2,500). If you are eligible to commit to two years due to a management level entry point, the total cost of that same option will be £4,080 ($4,250), and if you need to go with a three-year contract and have an operational level entry point, it will cost you £6,120 ($6,375). These prices include tuition fees, case study exam fees, and membership fees.
Again, please note that the prices mentioned are subject to change, so visiting the CIMA website for the latest and most accurate pricing information is recommended. You also should know that special pricing is available for CPAs.
Best Way To Prepare for CIMA FLP
Preparing for the CIMA FLP (Finance Leadership Program) requires a structured and strategic approach to ensure success. Here are some of the best ways to prepare for the program:
Review the Program Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the requirements, ensure you meet the eligibility criteria before applying, and determine if the program fits your career goals and aspirations.
Develop a Study Plan: Create a study plan and ensure adequate time for exam preparation by determining the CIMA exam dates and schedules for each level of the CIMA FLP.
Students should also regularly examine their progress, revise their study plan, identify areas requiring more attention, and alter their study goals and timetable appropriately.
Utilise Study Materials: Use study materials provided by CIMA or other reputable sources to supplement your learning, including textbooks, study guides, online resources, live classes, pre-seen materials, and practice exams.
Attend Information Sessions: Information sessions are conducted by CIMA experts who deeply understand the program's requirements and expectations. They can provide valuable insights into the program and answer any questions students may have.
It also provides an opportunity for candidates to connect with other learners who are preparing for the CIMA FLP. This helps candidates to build a network of peers who can support and encourage them during the program.
Build a Support Network: Studying for the CIMA FLP can be challenging, and candidates may sometimes feel overwhelmed. An extra support network can provide emotional support and encouragement to help candidates stay motivated and handle exam day nerves.
A CIMA student can also collaborate on assignments with members of their support network, which can help them learn from each other and improve their understanding of the material.
Practice Time Management: Develop good time management skills to ensure that you can balance your work, personal life, and studying effectively, which may involve setting realistic goals, prioritizing tasks, and managing your schedule efficiently.
Focus on Developing Key Competencies: The CIMA FLP requires candidates to demonstrate a wide range of competencies to complete the program successfully. By focusing on developing these corresponding areas, candidates can ensure they meet the program requirements and are prepared for the challenges in the business world. 
How VIVA’s All Access Pass Can Help You
The VIVA CIMA/FLP All Access Pass is the ideal tuition companion for students who choose to go the FLP route. VIVA's All Access subscription perfectly parallels the FLP subscription structure. For one low yearly fee of just £399, you can unlock all of VIVA's award-winning CIMA study materials - mock exams and solutions, live webinars, on-demand video lectures, applied theory videos, OT theory revision lectures, downloadable course notes and more - for 365 days from the date of purchase.
The All Access Pass includes access to VIVA's complete standard Case Study courses across all levels (Operational, Management and Strategic) and across all 4 yearly exam windows. Access your study resources anytime, anywhere to work to your personal study schedule. You will also gain access to VIVA's vibrant, exclusive tutor-moderated student communities for the Case Study exams.
The CIMA FLP route is certainly an interesting proposition for some CIMA candidates! The online platform, structured learning and streamlined theoretical assessment track certainly have their appeal. Whether or not the program is for you will depend upon your own needs, educational attainments, budget and goals.
Whatever your decision - whether the traditional CIMA Professional Qualification or CIMA FLP route - VIVA's All Access subscription can help you to accelerate your learning and career journey. Sign up today and experience the benefits of comprehensive syllabus coverage, live and on-demand learning, and the support of a community of like-minded CIMA students and expert tutors.