By Kazim Alam, The Express Tribune
KARACHI: Can you name a profession that offers a basic monthly salary of over Rs74,000 on average, even though you are only halfway through your academic studies?
Pakistani management accountants – who have yet to complete their studies to attain full CIMA membership – earn on average Rs74,724 in basic monthly salary, with 41% of them earning more than Rs80,000 a month, according to Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Pakistan Part-Qualified Salary Survey 2011.
Founded in 1919 in the United Kingdom, CIMA is one of the largest professional bodies of management accountants in the world with a presence in all major global economies, including those of the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, China and Singapore.
According to the survey, 51% of part-qualified students in Pakistan are satisfied with their income, with 63% anticipating an increase in their salaries over the next 12 months and 16% expecting salary freezes.
“There’s a huge job market. The demand for CIMA-qualified management accountants is too high, and supply is too low,” said National Bank of Pakistan Assistant Vice President Tahir Sartaj, who became a CIMA member in 2008, and also teaches CIMA students in different tuition centres in Karachi.
“There were no tuition-providers for CIMA back in the day. I was able to self-study because I had completed my ACCA in 2003,” he said, adding that CIMA Pakistan should take maximum advantage of the recent condition that the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) has imposed on its member firms, which bars them from engaging students of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), a global body of accountants.
“This means that CIMA students can have more training opportunities in these firms if CIMA Pakistan increases its footprint in the country and engages potential students more actively,” he said.
The survey reveals that there is a culture of long hours for part-qualified CIMA students in Pakistan. About 47% of the respondents said they worked between 41 and 50 hours in a typical week. While 61% of part-qualified students said they expected their working hours to remain the same, 35% of them anticipated an increase in working hours in the near future, the survey said. Interestingly, it reveals that the main reason for increased working hours is related to career growth: 65% of the respondents said they expected to take on more responsibility in their companies.
To become a CIMA member one has to complete five papers at the certificate level, which takes about one year. It is followed by the operational level (three papers), management level (three papers), and strategic level (three papers). The last stage is called professional competence level, which includes one case-study paper and requires students to produce evidence of practical experience of three years.
Although there’s no hard-and-fast definition of a part-qualified CIMA student, industry veterans agree that the term refers to students who have passed at least management level exams.
About 92% of part-qualified Pakistani students said the CIMA qualification enabled employment internationally. Of the 85% respondents who said they would switch jobs within the next two years, 79% stated they expected their next job to be out of Pakistan. The most popular destinations among CIMA part-qualified Pakistani students are the UAE (70%), Saudi Arabia (45%), Qatar (33%), Australia (33), UK (27%), Canada (18%) and the United States (9%).
“Most of the current part-qualified CIMA students in Pakistan come from ICAP, ACCA or the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICMAP) background,” a member of both CIMA and ICAP told The Express Tribune while wishing to remain anonymous.
She said ICAP and ICMAP members could get exemptions for up to 11 exams of certificate, operational and management levels.
When contacted, CIMA Pakistan representative Javaria Hassan declined to comment for this story.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23, 2012.