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In a recent interview with IBEX, Javeria Hassan the country manager of CIMA , Pakistan describes the expertise of CIMA graduates.
Please tell us about your professional background?
I am a Chartered Certified Accountant Affiliate by education and also hold CIMA advance diploma in management and accounting. I have been working with CIMA for the last five years, before that I was a lecturer for chartered accountancy courses.
Tell us about CIMA and its operations in Pakistan?
When we started our first office in Karachi in 2009, the accountancy market was quite mature as ACCA was already present since 1998 and then Chartered Accountancy was also present in the market. There was however a need for management accountants which was then covered by CIMA. Students are interested in acquiring the qualification as it provides them with real business exposure and global recognition. This is the reason why demand of CIMA is increasing in Pakistan. We are not only preparing our students to serve Pakistani market but are educating them to work in the global market too.
Please share your working model as to how do you collaborate with different institutes, conduct exams and set courses & criteria?
The qualification is open for students who are over 16 years of age, have completed O, A levels or intermediate and are enrolled with our learning partners. In Karachi, we have two quality learning partners and several listed learning partners around Pakistan. In Lahore specifically we have SKANS, PDLC, Universities like Superior University and LCWU. We have collaborated with these colleges for student training, the students register with CIMA and are studying with these learning partners. The learning partners are trained by CIMA. Recently, we had a lecturers conference in Colombo and lecturers from all over Pakistan gathered in SriLinka where they met with other lecturers from the South Asian Region. We arrange events like these to train them . We have collaborated with universities and are working with employers as well who are also upscaling their staff to acquire CIMA skills. The classes are also being arranged through in-house online revision sessions and online crash courses and sometimes the lectures are even delivered from Srilanka.
Can you tell us something about your curriculum?
Our curriculum is based on Anthony’s hierarchy with strategic level, management and operational level. At operational level , we teach what an account officer needs to know or what the
people working at lower level of an organization would want to know. At management level, we give them managerial skills for example what a person would do at the middle management of an organization and at strategic level we teach them how to formulate, monitor and implement a strategy. Thus , we make them ready for senior management position.The curriculum also is designed to cover three important pillars of business . We are teaching them enterprise pillar, performance pillar and financial pillar. Enterprise pillar mainly covers the HR and organisation management part which a student would typically study in MBA from Oxford or Harvard. At the finance pillar, we teach what a student would usually study in a pure accountancy qualification, at performance pillar we bring in the CIMA expertise which includes budgeting , cost accounting, management accountings, ethics and risk. This is the reason why we say that we are not producing just accountants but business leaders as we are giving them knowledge of all areas of business. We recently held events which were organized across Pakistan to launch our upgraded 2015 professional qualification curriculum. The curriculum is upgraded every 5 years to stay relevant to the business needs of today and is in consultation with employers around the globe.
How well is CIMA recognized by local academia e.g HEC?
We have already sent our curriculum to HEC. There are certain procedures which HEC also wants to follow for example CIMA equivalency in other countries like in India. We do not have an equivalence to a local qualification by HEC in India which is why we have not fulfilled the HEC requirement in Pakistan. We have entered into relationships with universities where we are getting equivalences from Universities in Pakistan. I am sure we will get local equivalence but it will take some time.
What is the difference between CIMA and ACCA graduates?
Not all accountancy qualifications are the same. CIMA and ACCA are both accounting qualifications targeting different accounting sectors. The ACCA(association of chartered certified accountants) is an international organization for professional accountants focusing on Financial accounting, Financial reporting, Ethics, External audit and principles of taxation while CIMA(chartered institute of management accountants) is a membership body offering internationally recognised professional management accounting qualifications. With employers identifying the need for finance professionals to be valuable right across the organization, CIMA’s unique blend of management accounting, financial accounting and business focused subjects continues to produce competent and confident Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) professional who can lead their organizations to sustainable success.
What are the major issues you face in terms of courses, students and day to day operations?
As i have said earlier, when we entered Pakistan the market was quite mature. The first issue which we faced was delivery because colleges already had a large number of students studying CA and ACCA. The first challenge was to penetrate into colleges. We were lucky to get huge support needed from the institutions and now we have high quality of institutions available who are teaching CIMA. At the moment , our concern is local equivalence. We are also working on creating a differentiation between a CIMA qualified professional and other accountancy qualified professionals . For this, we are conducting events like business leaders summits, business briefs and curriculum launches to promote the difference between CIMA and other qualifications.
Which regulatory body does CIMA Pakistan comes under?
CIMA has a head office in UK and there is a regional office in Sri Lanka. Basically, we are a branch office of CIMA UK but when it comes to reporting the management , I report to regional director in Sri Lanka and then he reports to the UK office. It is a divisional structure and there is no external regulation but CIMA as a whole is a chartered body. We have a royal charter.
How many students graduate every year and what percentage of CIMA graduates are females?
When we started in 2009 , we had13 graduates a year but last year in 2013, we had more than 60 graduates. Out of 60 graduates , 10 percent were females. We have on average 1300 students enrolling with us every year.
What is the growth potential for CIMA graduates as compared to a student who has done MBA in Finance?
Today’s world is all about technology advancements, technology is growing at a rate faster then we blink. The moment we learn something, something new is there and there is no end to it. I think the only survival for students is innovation. If you want to survive in this world you have to learn, create and innovate. Our updated 2015 professional curriculum is a result of CIMA responding to the needs of businesses which are in response to fast changing technology and the needs of Generation Y. Our objective is to produce competent and confident management accounting professional who can guide and lead their organizations to sustainable success.
Tell us about the diploma in Islamic Finance which CIMA offers?
CIMA offers a qualification in Islamic finance namely CIMA diploma in Islamic finance and CIMA advance diploma in Islamic finance. We also have four certificates courses. The certificates are designed to give two significant market advantages, the professional recognition of CIMA international qualification and demonstrable expertise in complex and fast growing world of Islamic Finance. We have started to promote Islamic finance qualification in Pakistan and are working closely with some of the leading banks of Pakistan who are getting their staff to study CIMA Islamic finance diploma as it carries global recognition.
Tell us about CIMA approved employers?
Globally , we have thousands of companies who are training CIMA students and in Pakistan we have multinational firms like Porche, Coca Cola, Zong, Telenor who are hiring CIMA students and training them. They are providing them with internship opportunities and job placements as well. We have a list of training partners who are supporting, training and hiring CIMA qualified students.