Earning the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designation is a great way to take your career in finance to the next level. The Investments and Wealth Institute, the issuing organization behind the CIMA certification, describes CIMA as “the peak international, technical portfolio construction program for investment consultants, analysts, financial advisors and wealth management professionals.”
That said, it does require time, money and energy to complete and maintain the certification. To earn the CIMA designation typically takes 9 to 12 months to complete and requires candidates to meet a range of experience, education, examination, and ethics guidelines.
Application and Background Check
If you are seeking the CIMA designation, you must first complete and submit the CIMA Certification Program Application along with the application fee. The application will ask for detailed contact information, work experience, and any record of complaints or regulatory actions. You should be notified of your acceptance into the program within 10 business days.
Educational Class and Exam
To earn the CIMA® designation, you must successfully complete an executive education program at one of the Investments and Wealth Institute’s four registered programs:
- University of Chicago Booth School of Business
- Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
- Yale School of Management
- Investment Management Research Program – Australia
The courses are generally two to four days in length, concluding with their own “final” examination. While the costs of these course offerings vary greatly, expect the courses – in addition to travel and lodging – to be a sizable expense of $4,500 or more.
Pro Tip: Yale offers an online option for the CIMA executive education program.
After completing your course, you are then ready for the CIMA designation’s certification exam, which is administered year-round at Pearson VUE testing centers. The certification exam is five hours long, with 140 multiple-choice questions: 125 scored and 15 non-scored pretest questions. Preparation for the exam is entirely self-study, with exam pass rates of roughly 57 percent for first-time testers as of 2019.
Pro Tip: Plan to study for around 150 hours to pass this examination.
Documentation and a Second Background Check
Lastly, after completing your exam and education course, you’ll have to document your professional experience – a minimum of three years of verifiable financial advisory work is required – and complete a second background check before you can hold the CIMA designation. You must also sign and promise to abide by the Investments and Wealth Institute Code of Professional Responsibility.
No More CFA Challenge Option
Previously, CFA charterholders were not required to take the educational course in order to sit for the CIMA certification exam. However, this option is no longer available as of June 30, 2019.
Maintaining CIMA Certification
To maintain the CIMA designation, you are required to complete three certification renewal requirements during each certification renewal period. More information about those requirements can be found in the CIMA Renewal section of the Investments and Wealth Institute’s website.