CIMA PER Simplified
If you have finished your CIMA exams, or you are just starting, you might have heard the term ‘PER’ floating about. But what does it mean?
CIMA PER stands for Practical Experience Requirements and, in short, is where you need to demonstrate to CIMA your ability to apply the knowledge and skills you have learnt from your CIMA studies, in real-world scenarios.
You will need to document a minimum of 36 months of experience for your CIMA PER. Once you have passed your strategic exams and submitted a successful CIMA PER application, you will finally be a Chartered Management Accountant.
1. Why is CIMA PER important?
2. What is relevant experience?
3. What do I need to do?
4. Paper-based route
5. Online PER route
6. Which route should I do?
7. How to write your PER
1. Why is CIMA PER important to you?
PER is not just a final hurdle on the track to CIMA qualification.
Employers also want to have full confidence that you have the required skills for the role they are advertising.
CIMA is a globally recognised and respected qualification and your PER serves as evidence that you have met the required standards expected of you in the industry.
So, with the combination of 16 passed exams and a successful PER submission, you can have added confidence when you walk into your next interview or appraisal that you are exactly the right person for the job!
2. What counts as relevant experience?
It can be difficult to pin down exactly what counts as experience for your CIMA PER.
You need to show that you can thrive as a management accountant, so a role in finance is essential.
However, some skills will be relevant in other roles you have done, so consider work experience you have completed before your CIMA exams too! This might include broader skills like desktop IT skills or information management.
But remember you can only evidence up to 5 years of experience, so you need to be confident you are picking the most relevant roles to support your application.
3. What do I need to do?
You will need to submit your CIMA PER through one of the two application routes provided by CIMA: paper-based or online.
You must have a minimum of two verifiers to support your application. These need to be people you directly report to (i.e. your manager or line manager).
Your verifiers should be able to validate the entire 36 months of experience. Remember: CIMA are looking for an authentic and plausible application!
4. Paper-based PER applications
How do I submit it?
The paper-based route involves a collection of four documents that create a career profile:
- An assessment of practical experience/membership application form signed by a Proposer and Seconder.
- An employment summary
- A detailed record of your experience
- A record of skills development
Thankfully, templates can be found on the CIMA website for each, apart from the ‘detailed record of your experience’.
In order to submit these documents, you need to post or email them to CIMA or attend a face-to-face session (we’d recommend you use the face-to-face option as it’s much quicker!).
What are the requirements?
The paper-based requirements are divided into three categories: basic, core and supplementary. Each of these categories contains a list of relevant experience you can choose to evidence as part of your CIMA PER.
You need to evidence at least 18 months in the core area in order to show a firm understanding of the role of a management accountant. You can then evidence the remaining 18 months across the three categories.
These are then further broken down into the roles you may have performed while working in finance. You can find the full list of roles in the CIMA Updated PER Guidance, but here’s one example:
5. Online PER applications
How do I submit it?
The submission process for the online route uses your CIMA account (so it should look familiar).
You’ll need to use CIMA’s Membership Application Tool (MAT), which can be found under ‘Updated Requirements’ when you head to the MY CIMA tab.
This tool gives you the option to record your experience neatly and efficiently within CIMA’s system.
What are the requirements?
The online route uses the CGMA competency framework to determine whether you have developed the skills you need for your desired role.
This framework was developed by CIMA after extensive research and is closely related to the current syllabus.
The framework shows a range of skill sets (or competencies) that are required to successfully undertake management accountant roles. These competencies are grouped under four knowledge areas: technical, business, people and leadership.
You can find full details in the CGMA competency framework.
You will need to provide evidence of four competencies covering technical and business and at least one in each for people and leadership.
Once you have your competencies, you will then need to decide which of these proficiency levels you are working at for each: foundational, intermediate, advanced or expert.
18 months of your experience needs to be at intermediate and above. The remaining 18 months can include foundational experience.
It is useful to know how CIMA define these levels before you start. So, let’s take an example.
You have decided you can confidently show evidence for the first competency in technical skills – financial accounting and reporting.
You then identify one of the skills under this as adhering to professional accounting standards.
Below you can find out how the proficiency levels relate to your current skill, and then decide which level you fit into.
6. Which application route should you do?
CIMA created the online route to reflect the CGMA competency framework and the current syllabus.
However, it might surprise you to hear that both CIMA and students agree, the paper-based route is often the simplest.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The paper-based route offers multiple ways to submit your CIMA PER application and due to the original format of the detailed experience summary, it is much quicker to assess. While the postal applications take 6-8 weeks to be returned, the face-to-face sessions often have same-day results!
The online route involves an in-depth screening process to make sure the experience is correctly documented with enough detail. Due to this, you may find yourself waiting around for your result.
7. How to write CIMA PER: Common mistakes and how to avoid them
What makes a successful CIMA PER application?
Well, there are some common mistakes that students make with CIMA PER that you’ll want to keep in mind as you start to record yours.
Starting too late
You have four years after your last strategic exam to submit your CIMA PER. But CIMA wants to encourage you to submit your CIMA PER as soon as possible. If you fail to submit before the end of the four years you will be removed from the register.
So, while you can’t submit until after your E3, P3 and F3 exams, you should be thinking about recording long before this.
In fact, it’s best to take notes as you complete your work so you have something to refer back to when it comes to submission.
What did I do?
CIMA want to know about your experience, not your team’s. Make sure you are writing about how you performed a task and not how the team worked together.
You will need to talk about your role in a wider context, but you should try and be as specific as possible about how you contributed to the team or organisation.
Am I providing enough detail?
Creating a list can be very satisfying. But when it comes to recording your CIMA PER, avoid bullet points!
CIMA want as much detail as you can provide, so it is worth asking yourself these questions:
- How have I shown application of the competency?
- How did I go about the task?
- How often did I do this task?
- What was the outcome?
PER is an essential part of the CIMA qualification. Now that you know how to submit this you should be well on your way to completing CIMA and entering the world as a Chartered Management Accountant.
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