FAQs for CIMA Candidates

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document has been prepared for candidates currently in the Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) certification process.

Q: How does the Investments & Wealth Institute keep CIMA, CPWA and its other educational offerings relevant?
A: The Investments and Wealth Competency Matrix is a framework designed to ensure that the organization’s advanced education remains on the forefront of an evolving profession.

The Matrix articulates: (1) investment knowledge competencies for professionals who manage money for individual and/or institutional clients, (2) wealth management knowledge competencies for advisors who work with clients with a net-worth of $5M and up, (3) General business, practice and client service knowledge for teams and independent practices, and (4) an ethics framework for investment and wealth professionals.
The body of knowledge is updated regularly by subject matter experts and through professional job analysis studies.

Q: What is a Job Analysis study?
 A job analysis defines a profession, occupation, or job in terms of the activities (or tasks) performed and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform those activities accurately and effectively.
The job analysis process utilizes subject matter expert group discussion, combined with a large-scale survey of financial advisors. The survey will ask participants to rate a series of knowledge and skill statements using a variety of metrics like importance, time spent performing a task, level of ability required for tasks, and relevance of certain knowledge required to perform the job.

Once completed, the survey data will identify the critical elements for initial and ongoing CIMA certification requirements. The CIMA exam requirements will be updated and refreshed to reflect the latest knowledge and skills required to deliver competent, ethical financial advice.

The last CIMA job analysis was conducted in 2013. The last CPWA job analysis was conducted in 2012.

Q: Who completed the CIMA Job Analysis?
A: More than 2,000 industry professionals worldwide completed the study. Respondents include financial advisors, registered investment advisers (or Investment Adviser Reps), investment consultants, asset management professionals and investment analysts.

Q: Will the standards required for CIMA certification change as a result of the job analysis?
A: The standards required for CIMA Certification will not change. In order to be certified, candidates must meet the “Four E’s” required by the CIMA Certification Commission.

  • Experience — Candidates must complete three-years of experience in financial services prior to certification.
  • Ethics — Applicants are tested on the Institute’s Code of Professional Responsibility, must disclose any potential or real violations to the Institute’s Code of Professional Responsibility, and Disciplinary Rules and Procedures, and must successfully pass comprehensive background checks prior to certification.
  • Education — All candidates must complete an executive education component through an approved registered education provider program prior to certification.
  • Examination — All candidates must pass a rigorous examination requirement administered at a third-party testing center prior to certification.
Once the four E’s are met, candidates must also electronically sign a license agreement and pay an initial certification fee to become certified and able to use the CIMA marks.

Q: What changes will be made to the CIMA Core Body of Knowledge as a result of the CIMA Job Analysis Study?
A: The knowledge and skills which were enhanced, added, reduced or deleted can be summarized as follows:
  • The CIMA Core Body of Knowledge was consolidated and simplified into five knowledge domains, culminating in a revised, “Portfolio Construction and Consulting process,” which now includes application of ethics and fiduciary principles and guidelines.
  • Substantial emphasis was placed on passive investment vehicles and strategies, including a new section covering Investment Philosophies and Styles.
  • A new topic area was added, which outlines “responsible investing,” including ESG, impact investing, and socially-responsible investing.
  • The exam weightings for behavioral finance were again enhanced, as it was in 2013.
  • The investments section “real assets” was moved to a new content section.
  • Additional emphasis will also be required through the education requirements (initial and ongoing) in the fields of tax and regulatory frameworks for advisory and consulting engagements.

Q: How will the changes to the CIMA Core Body of Knowledge be reflected on the revised, comprehensive CIMA examination?
A: The revised body of knowledge will address 469 topics organized into 22 sections, and five knowledge domains:

Exam % Domains Sections
15% Fundamentals Statistics and Methods, Applied Finance and Economics, Global Capital Markets
20% Investments Vehicles, Equity, Fixed income, Alternative investments, Options/futures, Real assets
20% Portfolio Theory and Behavioral Finance Portfolio theories and models, Behavioral finance, Investment philosophies and styles, Tools and strategies
20% Risk and Return Attributes of risk, Risk measurements, Performance measurement and attribution
25% Portfolio Construction and Consulting Process Ethics, Client discovery, Investment policy, Portfolio construction, Manager search and selection, Portfolio review and revisions
Q: How will the CIMA certification process change?
A: Currently all candidates must pass a 50-question Qualification Exam after acceptance into the program, but prior to attending executive education, and must also pass a 100-question Certification Exam following executive education but prior to certification.

Candidates and prospects who apply after March 31, 2018 will complete a revised CIMA certification process outlined below:
  • Step 1:  Admission — Candidates must complete an application for candidacy online.
    • A background check will be performed to ensure candidate meets eligibility before incurring education expense.
    • The examination fee will be paid in advance, and a membership in the organization will be created (for non-members), and access to the CIMA Candidate Resource Center will be created.
  • Step 2:  Education – Candidates must successfully complete an executive education requirement through an approved registered education provider.
  • Step 3:  Examination – Candidates must successfully pass a 140-question, five-hour comprehensive Certification Examination administered at a Pearson VUE testing center.
  • Step 4:  Certification –The final step in the certification process is completed online by the candidate. This step includes a final background check, ensures that candidates have met all required experience requirements, and that candidates acknowledge and understand ongoing recertification requirements including ethics requirements and CIMA marks usage. Once this procedural step is completed, a two-year certification period commences.
Q:  If I am currently enrolled in the CIMA Certification program, what do I do?
A:  All current candidates in the process, and all prospects considering CIMA certification, should work with Certification Department staff on a recommended timeline for completion of the existing requirements prior to May 31.
The benefit of completing the program under the existing requirements is that all of the current test prep resources, and all education programs available to candidates during the first half of the year address the existing exam structure and content.

Q: Without a qualification exam, how will candidates know whether they are ready for education and the final Certification Exam?
A: Commencing March 1, candidates will be encouraged to take the sample tests and pre-qualification assessment included in the CIMA Candidate Resource Center.   
Q: Will the examination requirement be easier?
A: The requirements to earn CIMA certification are not changing. In addition to an experience, ethics, and education requirement, all individuals who wish to be certified must pass a comprehensive examination requirement. The revised, comprehensive CIMA Certification Examination will be a 140- multiple choice question examination taken during a five-hour testing window.

Though 10 questions shorter than the current two-level exam requirement, the revised, consolidated CIMA certification exam administered in August will cover high-level knowledge of the CIMA Core Topics. Today, the Qualification exam is 50 questions, and covers more foundational application of topics in the CIMA body of knowledge.

Q: Will the new certification process take less time?
A: The new certification process will take the same amount of time to complete. Most candidates find that it takes about nine months from start to finish.
Q: What is the cost of the CIMA certification process?
A: The cost of the program has not changed. Detailed information on application costs and fees is available here. Please visit our registered education providers’ page for access to their details.
Q: How will these changes affect those already certified?
A: Revisions to the CIMA Core Body of Knowledge and certification process will not affect those already certified. The revisions advance and protect the integrity of the CIMA Certification marks, enhancing their value to the public, regulators, and the industry.

Current CIMA certificants must still complete and report a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education credit, including two ethics hours, pay a certification renewal fee, and complete the compliance requirement in order to maintain their credential.  Commencing in 2019, additional emphasis will be required through ongoing education requirements of certified professionals in the fields of ethics, fiduciary, tax and regulatory frameworks for advisory and consulting engagements.
Q: Will the CIMA certification name, logo, or marks usage be changing?
A: The CIMA Certification name will not be changing. There is a new CIMA logo and a revised Marks Use Guide.   
Still have questions? Send them via our online form.