Be a Business Leader, Not a Number Cruncher

26 Oct 2017

"One day I was in Starbucks going through one of my books on accounting, and this beautiful young woman came up to me and said; 'My accounting book is different from yours.' Her name was Joyce, she had a background in finance and administration and ran a surgery centre. Within a short time we were married." - David Schweikert - (US Politician)

David's experience may be untypical, but you never can tell what new pathways may have been forged on Tuesday 24 Oct 2017, as Jason Nye (second from the right), Student Recruitment Manager at CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) came into LSBM to have a chat with our students about the many and varied places that an accounting and finance qualification that includes CIMA can take you.

Jason was at LSBM for the fourth of our Lighthouse Events at the invitation of Usha Mistry (third from the right), who as well as being the Head of Programme Development, is also the Course Leader for our BA (Hons) Accounting and Financial Management degree programme.

Jason is a regular speaker at LSBM, and we were pleased to welcome him back to talk to our students about the opportunities that CIMA provides. He has now worked for CIMA for nine-years and is always happy to share knowledge and enthuse students with facts and insights into the potentially exciting journey that they have set out on.


Changes at CIMA

CIMA is a global accounting organisation that boasts students across 177 countries, including a working presence in all of The Times 'Top 100 Best Companies' and all the 'Top 100 Global Brands', according to Jason's slides. 

As the Bob Dylan song goes, 'The Times They Are A Changin' though. Since 2011, CIMA has been developing an ever closer joint venture relationship with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and in June 2016 the members of both bodies approved evolving the joint venture through the creation of a new international accounting association. 

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants launched in January 2017, and both bodies are now in the process of working out 'synergies' which may result in significant changes in the future.

Jason said that the new organisation will represent 650,000 members and students and claimed that members will be represented in over 150,000 firms around the world. In addition, one significant benefit to CIMA members is that it will open up doors to the US market which may have previously been closed.


The Global World of Accounting

The new body is far from alone in the global accounting pantheon. Others Include:

ICAEW Chartered Accountants, ICAS, Chartered Accountants Ireland, AIA, CIPFA, CPA Australia, as well the ACCA who came in to speak to us two weeks ago.

That is just a few that Jason mentioned of the many dozens, a list of which you can find here.

But regardless of the exact numbers the new body will certainly become one of the biggest organisations representing accountants globally. Plus, the industry as a whole seems to be in generally good health. Accountancy Age reported statistics from the Financial Reporting Council's 'Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession' (PDF) report in July 2017 that;

"Between the years 2012-2016, membership of UK & Ireland accounting bodies grew by 3.2% worldwide and 2.4% in the UK & Ireland, making the total number of worldwide members over half a million and 335,000 in the UK & Ireland. The number of accounting students has also increased in the same period, by 0.7% in the UK & Ireland and 2.9% worldwide. The report showed that the ICAEW continues to have the largest number of members, with 125,087 members in the UK and Ireland, while ACCA continues to have the largest worldwide student membership."

(Note - The ACCA had 90,697 and CIMA 80,007 registered members and students in the UK and ROI for 2016. The report is a little vague in terms of specific numbers for other years, but clearly the ACCA and CIMA are both in the top three accounting bodies, behind the ICAEW, in terms of members and student members in the UK. These three are well ahead of all other accounting bodies in the UK in terms of membership numbers.)

It is also worth pointing out that exemptions to BOTH the ACCA and CIMA modules can be gained through studying the BA (Hons) Accounting and Financial Management courses at LSBM! Click on the links to find out further details for each.)


A Few Numbers...

There are over 400,000 qualified accountants in the UK, and the firms at which they operate are as diverse as the number of firms in the UK (over 5.4 million of them according to the latest figures available), and encompass everything from pure finance to general management.

One of the big selling points of CIMA over other accounting bodies is that they very much pitch themselves as building up your all-around business and management knowledge, rather than pigeon-holing you into a career in finance. In fact, Jason said that if an area such as auditing is where you think your talents may lie, that you may be better off joining someone else.

It is interesting to reflect on how this actually translates into where members of various accounting organisations end up working, because while all organisations have a certain marketing message they are looking to deliver, the actual employment statistics show how this translates into the real world.

In the case of CIMA, according to the latest Key Accountancy Facts and Trends Report from July 2017, for example, approximately 75% of both members and student members of CIMA work in Industry and Commerce, with only a tiny percentage of members (1%) actually 'Working in Practice' (the rest being taken up with 'Public Sector', 'Retired' and the slightly nebulous 'Other').

The numbers are a little different for ACCA with around 22% of members 'Working in Practice', around 60% working in 'Industry and Commerce', and the rest split between the other designations above.

What is interesting to consider though is that regardless of which route you plan to go down ('Financial' or 'Management' accounting) while a student. That there is probably a good 2/3rds chance that you will end up working in 'Industry and Commerce', rather than working in practice. In which case CIMA could be a great choice to actively pursue.


CIMA - Some Key Differences

Jason mentioned a number of large employers such as Sky, J.P Morgan, KPMG and Burberry who all offer specific roles that are targetted at CIMA graduates, and Jason made the point that there are;

Seven key ways that a management accounting education leads to benefits for employers such as this. Including:

  • An ability to guide critical business decisions
  • Provide valuable strategic advice
  • Combine financial expertise and business knowledge
  • Utilise knowledge to create growth opportunities
  • Provide strong leadership and managerial skills
  • Be able to successfully manage risk

The CIMA courses include training in areas such as strategic planning, innovating, generating ideas, problem solving skills, in-depth analysis and predicting future trends, in addition to financial accounting, which widens the scope of what many people traditionally think of an accountant as spending their time doing.

This all goes to show that there is no such thing as a 'typical' accounting career and that the sky is very much the limit as to where you could end up with an accounting qualification. Statistically, it is unlikely that you will end up working for a 'Top 7 Accountancy Firm' and plow that furrow (although it is possible). It is much more likely that you will utilize your accounting skills as a part of a wider management remit, and this is where the CIMA training excels, because it is designed from the ground-up to accommodate that reality.

Show Me the Money! (Jerry Maguire clip

How much all of this 'accounting dynamism' might end up earning you, is, of course, an area that everyone is interested in! Jason showed some average figures at different experience levels, based on this accountants salary calculator on their website, that ranged from £30,486 at 'Operational Level', to £101,921 at senior levels after being qualified for many years.

It may be an interesting exercise to take a look at the CIMA Salary Calculator, but don't get carried away! In practice, it depends greatly on who you are working for, where you are working in the country and the sector. So 'averages' tend to be little more than guesswork in reality unless you have firm ideas about those other three factors. 

Nevertheless, recent industry statistics do show that the income and average income per member/student of CIMA in 2016 was around the £58,000 mark (source), so clearly, as this encompasses both higher-flyers and first-job students, it is encouraging that there is a substantial potential upside in salary.

Jason also quoted the following salary statistic from July 2016 (though it should be pointed out that while he attributed it to 'Accountancy Age', in reality they were simply reporting on CIMA's own 'Annual Salary Survey', so you may wish to factor that in before getting too excited).

"Those in the process of gaining their qualifications report earning 22% higher than the national average wage, receiving an annual salary of £33,638."

Nevertheless, what does seem clear from a spread of representative data, is that the salaries of those who have qualified as accountants have done rather well over the last five years, and that the salary trend upwards looks to be positive for CIMA graduates.


The CIMA Syllabus

Jason spoke briefly about the CIMA syllabus which includes three main 'pillars' of study (the underlined ones are the ones that LSBM has successfully negotiated exemptions from, assuming you do the correct courses and pass them.)

Enterprise Pillar

E3 - Strategic Management
E2 - Project and relationship Management
E1 - Organisational Management
BA1 - Fundamentals of Business Economics


Performance Pillar

P3 - Risk Management
P2 - Advanced Management Accounting
P1 - Management Accounting
BA2 - Fundamentals of Management Accounting


Financial Pillar

F3 - Financial Strategy
F2 - Advanced Financial Reporting
F1 - Financial Reporting and Taxation
BA1 - Fundamentals of Financial Accounting


In addition, there is a foundational course: BA4 - Fundamentals of Ethics, Corporate Governance and Business Law

So, clearly, while there are still some exams to take to become CGMA qualified, it is clear that the CIMA exemptions we have negotiated for you are going to be a big help.

He also spoke about some of the practical considerations of taking the exams, such as having over 5,000 exam centres worldwide and the shortest exam time of any professional body. So, while you clearly will have to work hard to achieve the qualification, you won't have any problems finding somewhere to take the exam (and it will be over quickly!)

The 8 Benefits of the CIMA / LSBM Partnership

Finally, Jason summarised the benefits that LSBM students have over others because of the partnership that we have formed with CIMA. 

1/ Get a career head start - As well as a earning a degree, as a CIMA student at LSBM you may already be part qualified.

2/ CIMA My Jobs - Register and upload your CV on CIMA MY JOBS to find entry level roles with employers.

3/ Impress Employers with your commitment - Registering as a CIMA student before gaining employment shows dedication and commitment.

4/ Study Resources - Including; CIMAconnect, CIMA Publishing and CIMAstudy 

5/ Free / Discounted Local Branch Events - Access a host of local CIMA events.

6/ CIMA Grad Club Registration - A free online platform to find the latest undergraduate/graduate jobs/internships and work placement opportunities, as well as careers advice and networking events.

7/ Double your skillset - Graduate with both academic and business-ready skills

8/ Earn extra letters after your name - On top of your degree, you can graduate with the letter CIMA Cert BA, CIMA Dips MA, CIMA ADV Dip MA or CGMA after your name, depending on how far you get with the CIMA qualification.



We would like to thank Jason for once more taking time out of his busy schedule to come and have a chat with LSBM students about what CIMA has to offer.

CIMA is growing and changing and the new strategic partnerships it has forged bode well for those who have qualified, or are looking to qualify, under its banner.

We look forward to welcoming Jason back to LSBM soon!


Stuart Brown
Media and Content Manager


In the picture above you can see from left to right:
Ibrahim Ganiyu, Accountants in Organisations Lecturer at LSBM
Mariah Adumitroae, BA (Hons) Accounting and Financial Management, 3rd-year student
Dabir Ahmed, Senior Lecturer, Accounting and Finance
Usha Mistry, Course Leader, BA (Hons) Accounting and Financial Management and Head of Programme Development at LSBM
Jason Nye, Student Recruitment Manager at CIMA
Felix Grant-Rennick, BA (Hons) Accounting and Financial Management, 3rd-year student

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