Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on August 03, 2023

Get Any Financial Question Answered

In the finance industry, there are different professions from which you can choose. One profession is a Certified Investment Management Analyst or CIMA.

The other one is a Certified Financial Planner or CFP. Both of these roles have their own set of responsibilities and offer many opportunities to those who dedicate themselves to this field.

Deciding between CIMA and CFP? Click here.

What Is a CIMA?

A Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) is a professional designation that serves as an assurance to the public and potential employers of the holder’s knowledge in investment management.

A CIMA candidate needs to prove to the Institute of Certified Investment Management Analysts (ICIMA) that he or she possesses an expertise level in areas such as financial analysis, portfolio management, and investment ethics.

The CIMA designation is awarded after a candidate successfully passes examinations. In order to be eligible to take the CIMA examinations, you must be employed as an investment analyst yourself or by a firm that provides investment consulting services.

In addition, you need to have at least two years of experience in the field. If you meet these requirements, applying to take CIMA examinations will cost approximately $900.

What Is a CFP?

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation is awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards after candidates pass examinations designed to test their knowledge of financial planning.

To be eligible to take the CFP Board exams, you need to have at least three years of experience in the field.

This period of time must include two years as a financial planning practitioner along with 26 hours of continuing education throughout this time period. If you meet these requirements, applying to take the CFP examinations will cost about $1,000.

Why Do I Need to Choose One Over the Other?

The main purpose of a CIMA is to manage your clients’ money and investments effectively and responsibly.

If you plan on working for a financial investment firm or becoming an investment manager, this designation will be essential for gaining credibility in the field.

On the other hand, a CFP is designed for those who want to work as financial planners and create financial plans for their clients.

These professionals will be responsible for ensuring that their client's money is invested well and that all of their needs are met as they progress toward their goals.

Which Degree Will Be Most Beneficial For Your Career Goals?

If you want to be involved in the investment management industry, then obtaining a CIMA designation will be highly beneficial for your career.

On the other hand, if you plan on working as a financial planner, getting the CFP certification is beneficial since it shows clients that you are knowledgeable about financial planning and can help them reach their financial goals.

The Pros and Cons of Each Degree

Both of these professions are beneficial for your career, but it’s important to note the differences between them.

Pros of Having a CIMA:

  • You will be able to work in companies that deal with investments and financial analysis.
  • You will be certified in core competencies that are essential for this career field.
  • You will gain a fundamental understanding of the investment management industry.

Cons of Having a CIMA:

  • This designation does not prepare you for working as a financial planner or adviser.

Pros of Getting a CFP:

  • It prepares you to work in the financial planning field, which is expected to grow faster than other industries during the next decade.
  • You will be able to work as a financial planner or adviser.
  • You will learn how to help clients meet their financial goals by working closely with them.

Cons of Getting a CFP:

  • Many companies are not willing to pay higher salaries for CFP professionals because this designation is relatively new and has not been widely accepted within the industry.

Knowing these distinctions, along with evaluating your career goals, will help you make an informed decision about which degree to obtain to ensure that you can achieve your dreams and be successful in your chosen career path.

The Bottom Line

Both of these designations can help you achieve your goals, but it’s important to consider the differences between them.

If you want to work in investment management, get a CIMA designation. However, if your goal is to be a financial planner or adviser get a CFP designation.

Before choosing either one, make sure that you know which degree will be most beneficial for your career.


About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.

Meet Top Certified Financial Advisors Near You

Find Advisor Near You