The new CIMA CGMA Finance Leadership Program – all you need to know

CIMA-FLP

There’s something new and exciting in the world of CIMA, and it’s called the CIMA CGMA Finance Leadership Program (FLP).

Whether you’re an existing or potential CIMA student, trust us, you need to know more about it!

CIMA is now offering an additional route to qualification!

We’re guessing that the questions popping into your head about now are:

  • What exactly is the CIMA Finance Leadership Programme?
  • What will I learn if I choose to take the CIMA CGMA FLP?
  • How is the CIMA FLP route assessed, and is it easier or harder to pass than the traditional qualification?
  • What are the CIMA FLP fees?
  • Can I transfer to the CIMA FLP route if I’ve already started the traditional qualification?
  • Will the CIMA CGMA FLP qualification be valued as highly?

    And, you’re right to be doing your research as the path you choose could make a big difference to your exam success, the cost of your CIMA course and potentially your career.

    Let’s start at the beginning!

    1. What is the FLP?

    2. Similarities between the FLP and the PQ

    3. How’s the FLP different to the PQ?

    4. How will I be assessed?

    5. How much does the FLP cost?

    6. Benefits of doing the FLP

    7. Drawbacks of doing the FLP

    8. Will the FLP have the same value as the PQ?

    9. FLP vs PQ: Making your decision

    1. What is the FLP?

    The CIMA Finance Leadership Program is a new, alternative route to becoming CIMA qualified that will sit alongside CIMA’s Professional Qualification.

    You might be familiar with CIMA’s professional qualification already as it’s the way Chartered Management Accountants have traditionally qualified to become professional members – the course you may well be part way through at the moment.

    So why has the CIMA CGMA FLP been introduced? Put simply, it’s due to growing demand. People want more online learning and assessment, as well as more flexibility, and that’s precisely what the CIMA FLP route provides.

    It’s an entirely different approach to learning and assessment allowing you to study AND undertake assessments when YOU want!

    Free CIMA FLP Email Newsletter

    The Astranti team is working on something BIG, and you can be the first to hear about it…

    Joining our free CIMA FLP email newsletter mailing list, and watch your inbox over the coming weeks!

    2. Similarities between the FLP and PQ

    Although, as we’ve already mentioned the Finance Leadership Programme (FLP) is very different to CIMA’s Professional Qualification (PQ), there are some important things that are the same. It’s definitely worth considering these elements before commiting to a path!

    If you choose to study CIMA CGMA FLP, you will:

      • Learn the same material; the CIMA syllabus is the same for both routes
      • Sit the same CIMA case study exams as those on the CIMA PQ
      • Fulfil the same practical experience requirements (PER) for membership
      • Earn the same certificates, status and designatory letters; ACMA and CGMA
    CIMA Finance Leadership Program

    3. How is CIMA’s Financial Leadership Programme different from CIMA’s Professional Qualification?

    A: Skills Plus

    You’ll learn the content of the CIMA CGMA Finance Leadership Program Syllabus remotely, online, using a system designed and delivered by CIMA called Skills Plus.

    Skills Plus is a basic package that includes access to the online learning system that covers the OT equivalent learning, case study notes and entry to the case study exams.

    To support this, it also provides learning materials, questions, and video lectures on some subjects, and the package covers the case study exam fees.

    Skills Plus is only available to purchase from CIMA which means that you don’t have to study with a training provider.

      B: Premium FLP

      Premium FLP adds on further tutor support, additional videos, live lectures and a wider range of focused support materials.

      CIMA will provide this premium service, but so will some tuition providers.

      Premium FLP products will vary depending on the provider but will typically contain significantly more content and support than Skills Plus, particularly for the case study exams.

      At the time of writing, the full details of what a premium FLP product may or may not contain are still under discussion between training providers and CIMA.

        So, what can you expect from CIMA’s Basic Skills Plus FLP and the Premium FLP for Objective Test (OT)?

        OT - Basic Skills Plus FLP

        You can expect the following:

        • Text explanation of theory
        • Video summaries on many topics
        • Assessment of the CGMA Finance Leadership Program syllabus

        OT - Premium FLP

        You can expect the following:

        • Tutors available to answer technical questions
        • Student mentoring: study planning, monitoring and support
        • Online study groups so students can work with others in an environment of mutual support
        • Additional OT support materials

        …and what about the same for Case Study (CS)?

        CS - Basic Skills Plus FLP

        You can expect the following:

        • Brief case study analysis
        • Case study guidance
        • 7 mock exams, 2 marked

        CS - Premium FLP

        You can expect the following (we’ve used Astranti’s offering as an example):

        • 3 live masterclasses (4 hours each) covering:
          • the pre-seen
          • how to pass the exam
          • what to do prior to the exam – final lessons
        • Study text and video guides on how to pass the case study
        • Pre-seen support guides (produced specifically for each case study)
          • comprehensive 5-6 hours of video analysis of the pre-seen
          • strategic analysis of the case study pre-seen – written guide, plus video
          • top 10 issues guide which is a list of exam scenarios or topics that we think have a reasonable likelihood of appearing in the exam – written pack, plus video
          • industry analysis – 70-100 page analysis of the industry the case study business operates in, plus summary video
          • pre-seen quiz (knowledge test on key pre-seen facts)
        • 7 Astranti mock exams, with detailed solutions and marking guides
        • Option to have 3 mocks marked with detailed feedback
        • Tutor support
        • Student mentoring: a mentor to help you with study planning and provide support 
        • Online study groups
        • The 100-questions video with worked solutions (100 generic practice questions for all pre-seens)
        • Ethics pack (focused on how to pass ethics questions – a guide, video and questions)
        • Theory review course designed to revise key knowledge from the OTs in a way that applies to the case study
        • Key OT topics revision guides
        • Key OT topics video guides

        4. How will I be assessed on the CGMA Finance Leadership Program syllabus?

        This is the biggest surprise of all… you don’t need to sit your ‘Objective Test’ (OT) equivalent exams under exam conditions if you take the CIMA FLP route; in fact, you don’t take OT exams at all!

        CIMA FLP Course

        You will still have to take the 3 case study exams, but there are no more big, end-of-course, Objective Tests.  

        Instead, you will be assessed by how well you answer sets of questions embedded into the learning materials as you work through the course.

        The system automatically marks the questions, which provides automated generic feedback instantly.

        The CIMA CGMA FLP assessments are more frequent than OT tests in the traditional route but are much shorter and, of course, don’t have to be taken under exam conditions meaning you can use your notes to help you answer them.

        5. How much does the CIMA FLP cost?

        A: Skills Plus

        The CIMA FLP fees are subscription-based, and at the time of writing, the prices CIMA are quoting for Basic ‘Skills Plus FLP’ are as follows:

        1 year £2,400
        2 years £4,080
        3 years £6,120

        That includes everything you would need to qualify: tuition, assessments (including case study exams) and membership fees.

        You must be aware though, that this is only the estimated CIMA  FLP cost, so prices may change before the UK launch.

        Although the CIMA FLP fees sound like quite a lot of money, they include all costs; membership fees, learning materials and assessment and exam fees.

        And, as you pay on a subscription model, you’ll only pay for the time you need the materials, incentivising you to complete the CIMA CGMA FLP course at a reasonable pace. 

          B: Premium FLP

          As we’ve already mentioned, Premium FLP is the basic CIMA CGMA FLP system plus additional tuition materials and support.

          This option is available to purchase directly from CIMA or training providers. Premium FLP is more expensive than the Basic ‘Skills Plus FLP’.

          If you opt to study this way, it will cost £3,600 per year with CIMA, and you can expect to pay around the same for a course with a tuition provider.

          However, also look out for the possibility of the training provider allowing installment payments to spread out the cost and help support you to finance the CIMA FLP fees.

          If your training to become a Chartered Management Accountant is funded by your employer, they may have a preference as to which route you take so you might not have a choice.

          If they’ve not considered the FLP approach, email us at enquiries@astranti.com. We can send them our Training Manager’s Guide to the CIMA Finance Leadership Program so you can both consider the benefits and drawbacks of each approach to qualification.

            6. What are the benefits of studying the CIMA CGMA FLP?

            Benefit #1 - The only study timetable you have to stick to is your own!

            You can log on to the CIMA Finance Leadership Program learning platform as and when you want, only studying when you have the time and feel ready to learn. This has got to be a huge plus?

            After all, there’s nothing more demotivating than having to drag yourself to a class and sit through it when you’re not feeling in the mood, is there?

            Assessments won’t hold you back or dictate your study schedule either because you no longer have to book them in advance – you’re literally assessed as you learn!

            Though, let’s not forget you still have to sit the same case study exam. So, you might want to schedule it so that you have a goal to work towards if you think that will work better for you.

            CIMA says that you can schedule it anytime, but you must have completed all relevant learning from the CGMA Finance Leadership Program Syllabus 2 weeks before the exam.

            If you can plan, set goals, and are motivated and organised enough to work to deadlines, then the flexibility the CIMA FLP route offers is fabulous.

            Benefit #2 - It's easier to learn in bite-sized chunks

            You may well know that the traditional professional qualification’s approach is to study a whole course’s worth of content (e.g. F1 Finance Accounting), then sit an Objective Test.

            Therefore, you need to learn and remember A LOT of complex information and formulae before sitting a demanding exam.

            The CIMA FLP route is entirely different. It divides each subject into topics (formally known as competencies and skill-sets). Then, each time you log on, you can choose which subject and topic you fancy delving into, read and understand the relevant content, take the assessment questions and move on.

            The CIMA FLP route is perfect for you if you are busy as you can plan to make better use of your time. For example, perhaps you know that on a certain day you will have just enough time to read a bit of theory but enough time to tackle a longer and more complex topic on another.

            Benefit #3 - The testing and assessment process is far kinder

            Honestly, it really is. The CIMA CGMA FLP assessment questions aren’t necessarily easier, but the approach to assessment is easier.

            You do not have to learn by heart or recall from memory anywhere near as much material as you would before taking an OT exam.

            Because the assessment questions are embedded throughout the CIMA CGMA FLP course, the material is fresh in your mind when you come to sit them.

            Furthermore, you can refer back to notes or other learning materials during the assessment so, in turn, your overall workload is reduced as there is less need to revise subjects many times.

            Once you’ve completed the assessment questions, you will be provided with instant results and computer-generated feedback. If you don’t score highly enough to progress, you can re-attempt the assessment as many times as you like!

            There will also be a limited pool of assessment questions on each topic, so after resitting the tests a few times, the same questions will repeat. You’ll get on particularly well with this approach to assessment if you’re the type of person that is competent but really struggles passing CIMA’s tough Objective Tests.

            In our opinion, although the level of difficulty of the questions is the same, the benefits above make the CIMA Finance Leadership Program assessments easier to pass than the OT exams.

            Benefit #4 - You could save yourself some money

            If you purchase the traditional OT courses from a training provider, you’ll be paying a course fee and maybe even a revision course fee for each subject, as well as CIMA’s exam fees – this can add up to quite a lot! If you take the CIMA FLP route, everything you need is included in the CIMA Finance Leadership Program annual subscription fee.

            In addition, you can study as many subjects as you like within your subscription period, so if you progress quickly, the CIMA FLP route could save you a lot of money.

            Let’s summarise the benefits… CIMA CGMA FLP is the most flexible approach to a professional qualification that we know of.

            You’ll like CIMA’s online learning platform if you are suited to remote online learning and assessment.

            The assessment process is kinder, and it’s undoubtedly going to be much easier for you to pass each subject.

            If you’re keen to get through CIMA CGMA FLP as quickly as possible and you’re a fast learner, you could fly through the learning material in record time.

            7. What are the drawbacks of studying the CIMA CGMA FLP?

            Drawback #1 - Remote learning isn't for everyone

            If you need help with planning your studies, organising yourself, setting deadlines, and staying focused and motivated, you’ll likely struggle with the fully remote learning nature of the CIMA Finance Leadership Program.

            If this sounds like you, you could overcome this drawback by finding a mentor for support, such as a friend, colleague or tutor.

            But, if you thrive in the classroom study environment, or prefer the more focused online support provided for traditional exams, don’t forget you can also choose to study via CIMA’s Professional Qualification route, which may be better suited to you.

            Drawback #2 - Caught out at case study?

            CIMA’s Skills Plus is a great online learning platform for the content of the CGMA Finance Leadership Program Syllabus and provides you with basic preparation for the case study exam.

            And CIMA’s Skills Plus is certainly enough for stronger learners to pass the case study exams. 

            But, for some, the study/pass, study/pass learning approach may mean that they simply don’t retain the syllabus knowledge as well as some on the PQ route putting them at a disadvantage. The case study support is also much lower than people who attend a learning provider’s PQ case study course or, indeed, an FLP Premium course. 

            At this stage we are a little concerned about this, but only time will tell how students do that are on various routes. In the meantime, to be certain of the best case study support do consider an FLP Premium course, or just staying doing the PQ route.

            Drawback #3 - CIMA Skills Plus does not provide personalised support to individuals

            All testing within the CIMA Finance Leadership Program platform is auto-marked with computer-generated feedback.

            A computer can tell you whether your answer is right or wrong, and the feedback is based on this. If you make a few mistakes when calculating your answer, the auto-generated feedback might be sufficient to help you improve.

            However, if you frequently make multiple mistakes when calculating then it’s likely you’re going to need human intervention to help you understand where you’re going wrong!

            A tutor’s feedback is tailored to your individual needs and can significantly impact your performance next time. If you learn better with others or feel as though you would need tailored feedback to help you understand the content, you could feel quite isolated on the FLP if you’ve chosed the Skills Plus option, and not perform as well as you would like.

            To overcome this hurdle, you might need to consider purchasing additional CIMA Premium products, like CIMA’s own or Astranti’s, or studying in person on the traditional route.

            Drawback #4 - Budgeting for CIMA’s subscription fee

            The CIMA Finance Leadership Program is less accessible for those on a very tight budget. CIMA’s fees for the traditional professional qualification over three years average £2,281 compared to a three-year subscription to the CIMA CGMA FLP being £3,995.

            That’s quite a difference, isn’t it? The annual CIMA FLP fee has to be paid upfront every year as CIMA provides no option to pay via an instalment plan.

            If you’re self-funding, you may find this tricky, and if you progress slower than anticipated and have to subscribe every year, it could work out to be less cost-effective.

            Drawback #5 - No going back (at the moment!)

            If you start studying the professional qualification via the traditional route and find it doesn’t meet your needs, you can switch to the CIMA CGMA FLP.

            You will receive credit for the corresponding competency area for any objective test and case study exams you have passed. You will not be required to re-take anything you’ve already passed.

            However, if you decide you don’t like the CIMA CGMA FLP once you’ve begun studying, you cannot switch back to the traditional route at the moment (although CIMA hope to provide this facility from April 2023). So, you need to carefully consider what your needs are before making such a critical decision.

            Let’s summarise the drawbacks… CIMA’s FLP is fully remote so you may find yourself feeling isolated, undirected and stuck if you ordinarily need, or even prefer, the guidance and support of a training provider.

            There’s already evidence that FLP students are not performing as well in the case study, so it may well be that you need to purchase additional products and services from a training provider.

            You have to pay CIMA’s annual subscription fee, so any additional purchases come at an additional cost. Once you’ve transferred to start studying on CIMA’s FLP route, you can’t go back to the traditional route.

            8. Will the CIMA FLP route have the same value as the traditional route?

            Now, this is a big and quite rightly an important question! If the CIMA Finance Leadership Program does prove to be easier to pass, will employers start favouring staff who have taken the traditional exam route? CIMA thinks not, and we tend to agree.

            With an excellent and comprehensive syllabus and three tough barriers to qualification in the case studies, CIMA CGMA FLP is likely to be just as highly regarded as the traditional route. CIMA says they work closely with employers and sponsors and respond to their needs by constantly evolving and updating their professional qualifications and experience requirements.

            So, we can assume that the introduction of CIMA CGMA FLP has been led by the needs of businesses and their people. Furthermore, employers tend to take most notice of the qualifications people get at the end and not how they got there, and CIMA is a highly respected qualification that employers will continue to trust.

            Remember, employers are more interested in your ability to apply what you’ve learnt in your job to help the business achieve its goals than how you learnt it. So we don’t think you need to worry about which approach to take in this regard, as CIMA is very well respected and is always likely to be.

            CIMA FLP Value

            9. CIMA CGMA Finance Leadership Program or the traditional route: Making your decision

            By now you’ll be well aware that there are quite a few differences between the two routes!

            But, because it was a lot of information to take in at once, let’s recap…

            Professional Qualification (Traditional route) CIMA Finance Leadership Program (FLP)
            Syllabus Students follow the same CIMA syllabus
            Learning options Classroom, online or a combination of both

            Online learning using the CIMA platform

            Plus optional extras from training providers 

            Study provider You choose a training provider

            CIMA basic provision with Skills Plus

            Plus optional premium FLP top-up from CIMA or other training providers

            Assessment Objective tests are taken at the end of each subject under supervised (exam) conditions Around five OT style questions after each short area of study (roughly every 45 minutes) – not under exam conditions
            Case study All students sit the same case study exams
            Cost

            CIMA annual membership fee and assessment fees

            Learning fees (depending on the method of study)

            Annual CIMA FLP fees (covers learning, assessment and student membership)

            Cost of any optional, additional top-up support

            Certificates A certificate is issued when each level (e.g. operational) is completed A certificate is issued when each “competency” is completed, as well as each level
            Practical experience requirements (PER) The PER requirements for full membership are the same
            Awards 

            Become a Chartered Management Accountant

            Designatory letters awarded for full membership are the same

            Professional Qualification (Traditional route)
            Syllabus Students follow the same CIMA syllabus as FLP
            Learning options Classroom, online or a combination of both
            Study provider You choose a training provider
            Assessment Objective tests are taken at the end of each subject under supervised (exam) conditions
            Case study All students sit the same case study exams as FLP
            Cost CIMA annual membership fee and assessment fees
            Learning fees (depending on the method of study)
            Certificates A certificate is issued when each level (e.g. operational) is completed
            Practical experience requirements (PER) The PER requirements for full membership are the same as FLP
            Awards Become a Chartered Management Accountant
            Designatory letters awarded for full membership are the same as FLP
            CIMA Finance Leadership Program (FLP)
            Syllabus Students follow the same CIMA syllabus as PQ
            Learning options Online learning using the CIMA platform
            Plus optional extras from training providers
            Study provider CIMA basic provision with Skills Plus
            Plus optional premium FLP top-up from CIMA or other training providers
            Assessment Around five OT style questions after each short area of study (roughly every 45 minutes) – not under exam conditions
            Case study All students sit the same case study exams as PQ
            Cost Annual CIMA FLP fees (covers learning, assessment and student membership)
            Cost of any optional, additional top-up support
            Certificates A certificate is issued when each “competency” is completed, as well as each level
            Practical experience requirements (PER) The PER requirements for full membership are the same as PQ
            Awards Become a Chartered Management Accountant
            Designatory letters awarded for full membership are the same as PQ

            So, in short, the CIMA CGMA FLP will be the best choice for you if you are focused, capable of self-directed learning, and want to be qualified as quickly as possible. It is also likely to be the best choice if you struggle with objective testing. But, on the other hand, if exams and long-term recall of topics are important to you, then you’re probably going to want to stick with CIMA’s professional qualification.

            This page should have answered any burning questions you may have about the new CIMA CGMA Finance Leadership Program! But, if you still have any other questions concerning FLP post them in the comments box below and we’ll get back to you!

            More useful resources on this topic:

            CGMA Finance Leadership Program – thecimastudent.com
            FLP, What’s It All About? – mjthetutor.com
            Watch: The Pros & Cons of the CIMA Finance Leadership Programme – @Craigo on YouTube

            Free CIMA FLP Email Newsletter

            The Astranti team is working on something BIG, and you can be the first to hear about it…

            Joining our free CIMA FLP email newsletter mailing list, and watch your inbox over the coming weeks!

            Holly Dymmock

            Customer Service and Mentoring Supervisor

            I hope you’ve found this guide on CIMA FLP useful – but if you’ve got any further questions, leave a message and I’d be happy to help!

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            Illustration by Storyset.