Are you in that stage of life where you have to decide which career path to follow in order to fulfill your dream to become a successful finance professional? Well, it is a very critical situation where most of us question ourselves that which finance qualification is most likely to land me the most sought after job profile in the industry. Let me make it crystal clear to you that for most of us “most sought after job” is the euphemism for a job that pays well. Nevertheless, if you wish to build a career in the financial sector, then you have to get a relevant degree or credential for requisite knowledge and skills as it has become almost a hygiene factor for the industry at present. In fact, there are a plethora of certification courses available for students, freshers or entry-level professionals as well as experienced professionals. The courses are designed in such a way that it can help, both freshers and the experienced alike, by nurturing their specific capabilities to prepare them for a successful financial career. Some of the popular financial bodies that offer you the perfect launching pad are CFA® Institute (CFA®), Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). The courses offered by these institutes are specialized certification programs of international repute and open doors for you to diverse global opportunities. So, let us look at some of the career opportunities that you can pursue based on the courses offered by each of the institutes in more details below:
Career Scope: As a Chartered financial analyst, popularly known as CFA®, you will have the opportunity to work at various positions in a wide range of industries. You may be working along with other finance professionals in managing the fiscal objectives of a company. In fact, most CFA® charterholders usually land with jobs in asset management, equity research, fixed income securities, etc. Some of the common job profiles of CFA® charterholders are investment banker, portfolio manager, and equity research analyst.
Expected salary: CFA® charterholders with less than one year of experience earn in the vicinity of $50,000 per annum, while someone with one to four years of experience can earn something in the range of $70,000 to $80,000 per annum. On the other hand, CFA® charterholders with more than 10 years and 20 years of experience can earn annually in excess of $110,000 and $150,000 respectively. According to a report by efinancialcareers, jobs specifying a CFA® qualification pay £88,000 per annum on an average.
Career scope: ACCA is the preferred qualification in countries that follow the IFRS guidelines for accounting. [However, if you are looking for an opportunity in the US, then CPA is the more preferred qualification as they still follow the US GAAP regulations for accounting]. In fact, ACCA qualification is recognized in most of the developed countries like Canada, Australia, UK and many more and as such if you are an ACCA qualified professional, then you are eligible to apply for jobs in these countries. As an ACCA qualified candidate, you will be in demand for many banking finance functions or various other job profiles that include risk advisory, accounting advisory, corporate finance, internal audit, audit & assurance, taxation, investment advisory, etc.
Expected salary: As per Karen Young (Director at Hays Accountancy & Finance), the average remuneration of an ACCA trainee starts at around £19,300 per annum, while that of an ACCA part-qualified and ACCA finalists can go up to £25,800 per annum and £30,700 per annum respectively. As per the efinancialcareers survey, jobs specifying an ACCA qualification pay £64,000 per annum on an average.
Career scope: If you are a CIMA qualified candidate, then you are likely to be working in management accounting roles in some banks. Most of the CIMA qualified candidates land with strategy based roles that require forward thinking because the CIMA course molds you in such a way that you become capable of handling such tactical roles in any organization in any industry, be it taking financial decisions or making strategies. Some of the major job profiles that CIMA candidates apply for are that of management accountant, business analyst, forensic analyst, project manager, finance controller, etc.
Expected salary: Typically, a candidate with professional CIMA qualification, irrespective of the level of experience or role, can earn up to £62,000 (bonus included). The salaries for CIMA qualified professionals at senior levels can start at £46,000, which can go in excess of £129,000. As per the efinancialcareers survey, jobs specifying a CIMA qualification pay £66,000 per annum on an average.
So, it can be said that all the above-mentioned finance qualifications can help you land your desired job profiles in the finance and accounting industry. However, each of the course caters to certain specific job profiles and so you have to choose the right one for yourself based on your desired profile. Although based on the given expected salaries for each qualification, it seems jobs requiring CFA® qualification is more lucrative, you must understand that salary is not the only criteria that should drive your career choice. In fact, the average salary metric can be misleading at times due to skewed data and many other factors. The career choice should primarily take into account your interest and passion, and that will eventually take care of your paycheck in the long run. I hope this article has given you some perspective about the career scopes and expected salary for CFA®, ACCA, and CIMA.
Click here to read more: Difference between CFA® and CA