10 December 2019

NEW CIMA 2019 Syllabus Changes - What, Why and When

Submitted by Tiffany Meyer
NEW CIMA 2019 Syllabus Changes - What, Why and When

“Digitalisation is transforming all industries. This is why digital
skills should be conveyed at all levels and in all forms of
Joe Kaeser, President and CEO Siemens AG

CIMA wants to be ahead of the curve - the leader in the management accounting profession. CIMA is the first certification body realising that the role of finance is shifting. And a huge part of that role is technology.

Rapid changes in technology are creating challenges for the business models of organisations. It is also making it difficult for business leaders and employees to create and preserve sustainable value. Against this digital backdrop, it is imperative that finance professionals possess relevant technical skills, a sound understanding of their organisation, as well as the ability to influence and lead people. This will make them capable of providing the insight their organisations need to craft and successfully execute their strategies.

CIMA launched the 2019 syllabus in January 2019 to include the effect of the digital world on finance.

The 2019 syllabus continues to bridge the skills gap of newly qualified finance professionals worldwide, meeting the employability needs of both business and people. In designing the syllabus, CIMA has set out to enhance the relevance of the syllabus to employers; ensure the rigour of the related examinations and align the learning experience of candidates to the real world.

The aim is to ensure that the CIMA qualification equips future finance professionals for the digital age and includes new topics such as cybersecurity, digital costing and digital strategy.

With digitalisation transforming all industries, it's critical that digital skills are included across all forms of education.

CIMA’s objective in designing the syllabus is to enhance the employability of students and members. It intends to create a learning system that enables learners to acquire skills, competencies and mindsets that are in high demand by employers. This has never been more important with the pace of change increasing and traditional roles being redefined by technology and digital advances.

In a digital world, the focus of the finance function is shifting from being based on costs to being based on organisational value.

In other words, the finance function will no longer be evaluated purely on how costly it is to run, and be viewed as just another cost centre. Instead, the finance function will be judged on the added value it brings to the organisation and the wider community. For anyone who practices management accounting, this shift highlights the prospect of a rewarding career in finance – a shift in which they can add real value to organisations and society as a whole.

Ultimately, the purpose of the revamped syllabus is to make sure the qualification is aligned to the real world and relevant to the employer.

2019 Syllabus - Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the CIMA Professional Qualification get updated?

The CIMA Professional Qualification is changing in order to adjust to the rapidly changing profession. CIMA has made a research and found out what are the professional competencies that the employers are looking for nowadays.

Is the structure of the CIMA qualification changing?

No. The structure of the ICMA qualification stays the same. There are 3 pillars: E - enterprise, P - performance and F - finance.

There are 9 Objective Tests (OT) and 3 Case Study Exams in the professional level.

Has the format of the exam changed?

No. There are still OT (Objective Papers) and Case Studies for every level of the professional qualification.

When will the new syllabus be enforced?

OT exams will be enforced as of 4th of November 2019 (the last date of the 2015 syllabus is going to be 3rd of November 2019)
The first Case Study will be examinable in February 2020.

Will exams be easier or harder?

The exams will remain as rigorous as they currently are. CIMA also does not foresee any significant impact on the pass rates.

CIMA has introduced exam blueprints and they bring more transparency and clarity on what's examinable so that you can be better prepared for your exams.

What will happen if I fail an exam under the 2015 syllabus and need to retake it under the 2019 syllabus?

For OT exams, you can familiarise yourself with the changed in the content prior to starting your preparation.

If you fail the November 2019 Case Study, you will have your last chance of re-sitting the exam in February 2020 still under 2015 syllabus, using the same pre-seen material.


To succeed in a digital world, we need digital skills with a digital mindset. CIMA believes that three key areas of digital skills and mindset will keep finance professionals relevant in an ever-evolving technological world.

Key Dates

The 2019 CIMA syllabus will come into effect in late 2019. The first sitting of the new-style objective-test subjects is in November 2019 and Integrated Case Study Exams in February 2020.

Last 2015 syllabus OT
3 Nov 2019

First 2019 syllabus OT
4 Nov 2019

Last 2015 syllabus Case Study
Nov 2019

Resit on 2015 syllabus Case Study*
Feb 2020

First 2019 syllabus case study exam
Feb 2020

*The Feb 2020 Case Study resit is a one-off retake ONLY for students who failed (or booked but did not attend) the Nov 2019 Case Study sitting. This exam will be run over 1 or 2 days.

Our CIMA students are regularly the top performing students in the country. To study CIMA with us go to www.ibtc.co.za and click on the book now button. Alternatively, you can call Robert on 0861 111 411 and he will gladly offer advice on how to get started.

Published in Science and Education