CIMA syllabus targets Big Five

CIMA launched its new syllabus this week in a bid to increase its share of Big Five students.

The institute is hoping to capitalise on the news in last week’s Accountancy Age that Big Five and Group A firms have been discussing plans to abandon the English ICA’s training scheme in favour of the institute’s rivals.

The new syllabus updates the current framework, which was established in 1992. Dubbed ‘CIMA Beyond 2000’, it will start next September, with the first exams in May 2001.

Its new features include a case study exam, to encourage analytical management skills, and two new subjects – finance and systems and project management. There is also a greater emphasis on international accounting standards.

The syllabus, which has been in development for two years, draws on research conducted for CIMA by the Industrial Society.

Jake Claret, CIMA’s deputy secretary, said that although the new syllabus is largely aimed at meeting the demands of business employers, it would also appeal to Big Five firms that are considering training CIMA students: ‘The Big Five are beginning to try CIMA students within their consultancies. They have the same objectives as employers.’

Claret claimed the existing English ICA syllabus was torn between public practice and business areas of accountancy. He added that CIMA’s new syllabus reflected market demand for all-round business managers rather than just accounting specialists.

‘We are seeing the death of the accountant,’ he said. ‘Some students will specialise in information management and others will specialise in financial management.’


The new syllabus has 17 instead of 16 papers and is broken down into three levels – foundation, intermediate and final – instead of the current four-stage structure.

The foundation level offers the basics of accounting. It consists of five subjects, such as financial accounting and business law, and involves two three-hour papers and three two-hour papers.

The intermediate level, equivalent to the current stages two and three, offers the technical and managerial core of the syllabus. It has eight subjects, involving eight three-hour exams. This level has two new subjects, too: finance and systems and project management. Students will also be able to answer financial accounting and financial reporting papers in accordance with the latest financial standards.

The final level deals with management accounting in three areas: financial strategy, business strategy and information strategy. There are three, three-hour exams. In addition, there is a three-hour case study exam.

Students will be given some basic information about the company in the case study two to three months in advance of the exam.

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