As a CIMA - Chartered Institute of Management Accountants - pupil, I make up one of the lucky 650,000 students and members worldwide. When training to be an accountant, you start to realise that the working week from Monday to Friday extends to Sunday with weekend college courses. Whether you like it or not, your best friend is Microsoft Excel.
After 6 years of working in finance teams in Manchester and 23 exams later, people tend to assume that I should now be a qualified accountant. If only! Qualifying as an accountant is a long and sometimes testing journey. Of the 23 exams I’ve passed, 19 are in relation to AAT (The Association of Accounting Technicians) and the other 4 make up the operational level of CIMA from the below structure:
The CIMA syllabus comprises 9 separate subjects that are organised into 3 pillars and 3 levels:
The operational level focuses on the implementation of strategy and reporting that fundamentally enables senior employees to make important business decisions. The focus of this is short-term.
The management level translates this strategy at higher levels and communicates it to lower levels for implementation. This level also covers the corrective action that should be taken when required. The focus of this is medium-term.
The strategic level concentrates on making strategic decisions and providing context for those decisions. This requires a long-term focus.
Fast Web Media: a supportive organisation
It can be hard juggling a work/life balance, especially when you’re also studying at the same time. Without the help of a supportive organisation, the journey to becoming a qualified accountant is even more difficult. At Fast Web Media, assistance is offered to me in many ways. Fast Web Media aid me:
Training is often very costly. Fortunately, Fast Web Media invests in its staff, giving employees the opportunity to progress and grow their knowledge and experience base. In return for this support, Fast Web Media acquires an - eventually - experienced, knowledgeable and grateful accountant (me!) who will contribute to the long-term mission of the company and continue to develop and thrive alongside the business.
Having previously worked in larger organisations, it’s clear the priorities of bigger companies often lie with efficiency, which has a detrimental impact on studiers such as myself. The idea of “pigeonholing” employees appears to make more practical sense as individuals have clear duties, albeit restricted ones, which ultimately contributes to a common goal.
Fortunately for me, Fast Web Media is an SME (small & medium-sized enterprise), operating with a small - but mighty - finance team. Therefore, I’m able to gain a greater insight into every aspect of accounting, which also helps aid my knowledge for upcoming exams.
This may sound obvious, but being given a clear progression plan motivates you! Fast Web Media has outlined what is expected of me over the next 3 years and I will work hard to achieve that! It’s fair to say that I have gained more accounting experience at Fast Web Media in the past 18 months than my previous 4 years in other roles.
There’s a lot more than just passing exams to become a qualified accountant. Luckily, in my manager and fellow CIMA member, Joeline, I have a tutor within the organisation who has experienced a similar training path to myself. CIMA, as a qualification, ensures that you are more than just an accountant. You are also commercially focused.
Having joined Fast Web Media in May 2016, I had a limited knowledge of the digital marketing industry, resulting in a patient approach from Joeline and other members of the business. Patience and guidance has been encouraged and received from day 1 at Fast Web Media, which has enhanced my knowledge of the business and the industry; allowing me to add value where I can.
To see what a financial controller actually does day-to-day, read Joeline’s article ‘An Introduction To: Financial Controllers’.
Nobody likes exams. You probably remember the stress you underwent at 15 or 16 years-old, completing your GCSE’s. Things like revision is made even more exhausting when you’re working full-time, that’s why it’s important to capitalise on one action: preparation. The key to passing CIMA exams is preparation.
With 60 questions in 90 minutes, with the required pass mark being 70%, you’ve got to be on the ball at least 2 weeks before you step into the exam!
Currently, I’m studying with the help of iCount Training in Manchester, where the emphasis of preparation is ingrained in every lesson. After recently passing my final operational exam, it’s safe to say that there is a successful formula:
Being successful and qualified is the most important thing to me, but it’s equally as important to ensure that achieving this doesn’t hinder my workplace productivity and my lifestyle. There have been sacrifices so far (my Saturday nights!) and there will be plenty more in the future, however, with the backing and encouragement from all the team at Fast Web Media, I have all the tools behind me to succeed.
Training and support is offered to all Fast Web Media employees, across all departments. If you’re interested in working for an exciting company and growing your skills whilst you’re at it, check out our vacancies!