Why CIMA? Find Your True North

This is from “Accounting Makes Cents” podcast episode #1 released on Monday, 29 November 2021.

So if you’re joining me here for today, I’m guessing that you are either (a) already a CIMA student, (b) you have decided to study CIMA for the next months, years, or (c) you are still undecided but want to know more about what CIMA is or can bring you.

Since today is our first ever episode, I think it’s imperative to start off strong, with an important topic, something that will speak to all of us that have taken this journey or are still planning to take it. And that is to find and state your TRUE NORTH when it comes to what you are undertaking. This is essentially your internal compass, the fixed point that will help you stay on track.

Jump to show notes.


If you’ll be spending your next few months or years doing CIMA, the first thing to tackle is to understand what this question means for you.

Let me take the actual wording that CIMA describes itself on its website: “CIMA is the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants. CIMA helps individuals and businesses to succeed by harnessing the full power of management accounting – not just accounting for the balance sheet, but accounting for business.” (CIMA Website)

Well, that was a great introduction to CIMA. But I’m sure you’re thinking the same as everyone else, that most accounting bodies say this about themselves. Not in the same words but along the same lines. I mean, it would really be hard to find someone who’ll say “no, don’t come to us, we’re no good.” Yikes!

So, the next step is to find out what distinguishes CIMA out of the rest?

In the world of finance, as mentioned there are many designations out there. Most accountants will normally have a couple under their name, present company included. But I think it is important to know and realise what each gives you, not just in terms of benefits but also professional development.

When people ask, I always say that as accountants, we are more than what we’ve been classified previously, we are more than bean counters, number-crunchers, and all these other phrases that have been traditionally associated with accountants. Of course, it’s true we crunch numbers, we count beans figuratively, but as accountants, we also realise that our knowledge and expertise offer businesses much more than just being a walking human calculator. Much like doctors and lawyers and other professions, really, there exists many specialisation within accounting and finance. You can go into general accounting, internal audit, project management, risk management, tax advisory, etc.

Personal experience

CIMA is really a great professional accounting body. Personally, I found that everything clicked together for me when I decided to do CIMA many moons ago. I know that when I started, I felt that there was something much more than what I was doing and where I was at the time. I had also kinda reached some sort of ceiling and the only way I could see to move out past that was to get designated, to get connected with other like-minded professionals, to get news about what’s happening in the industry. CIMA was that for me. I also felt that out of the choices that were available to me, CIMA was the most aligned to what I wanted to focus on in my accounting career. It was really one way to be part of something big, like a network, that provided me with the relevant updates about my profession and the ever-changing business world. 

And of course, as a student turned associate, I know that getting accredited is not an easy task to undertake. I would say that: “If it was easy, then I’d seriously reconsider whether CIMA was the right one to undertake”. As accountants, no, actually as people, we shouldn’t necessarily think that the path to success is the easy route.

I’d like to put it to you, as students, to ask yourself, why CIMA? Look, we’re all striving for that designation, but designations are not really a “get rich quick” scheme, so there should be something more, a more meaningful reason to do this. It will be different for each student, but most will border along the lines of more opportunities, more direction, more open doors, more responsibilities, promotions, better pay (yes, this is a valid reason to pursue CIMA). It could be a mix of reasons why you are doing this, so be honest. Once you’ve determined what it is, I want you to write it down, on a piece of paper and put it up on a board somewhere. This will help remind you why you are on this journey. 

End note

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit antiquated and being a new age accountant, I should be asking you guys to type your true north out on a computer and make it into your desktop wallpaper or screensaver or something. This will definitely remind you why you are doing this.

As an end note, I’d like to just say that I personally feel proud when I write the ACMA, CGMA letters after my name because I know I worked hard for it and deserve it. And I can only wish the same things for all of you doing CIMA right now.

Anyways, that brings us to the end of this episode. I hope this has inspired you to start your CIMA journey. And for those who’ve already started, I hope you were able to find and state your true north. Don’t ever lose sight of that throughout your CIMA studies. It will certainly serve as your motivation when you wonder what have you gotten yourself into? And believe me, there will be those days.

Show notes simplified

Join MJ the tutor (that’s me!) on her inaugural podcast episode as she explores the meaning of True North and encourages students to find theirs when it comes to their CIMA aspirations. She also speaks about her “why”.

Resources and links mentioned on the show:
CIMA – https://www.cimaglobal.com/About-us/

“Ding Ding Small Bell” (https://freesound.org/s/173932/) by JohnsonBrandEditing (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1RImxnsbfngagfXd_GWCDQ) licensed under CC0 Licence.

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