How to become a CIMA® certificant

the peak international, technical portfolio construction certification program


Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA) certification is the peak, international technical portfolio construction certification program designed for investment management analysts - that is, those involved in any aspect of constructing multi-manager portfolios, whether practitioner or advocate. There are already more than 8,000 CIMA certificants globally.

All CIMA candidates globally complete the same process including five key steps. Typically, it takes most candidates nine months to a year to attain CIMA certification.

Recommended prior learning
The curriculum
The process
The cost
Enrol now

Recommended prior learning

Financial mathematics and statistics are a significant component of the CIMA curriculum. It is difficult to complete the program successfully unless you have previously studied tertiary level statistics, financial maths, pure maths, or maths as part of a technical degree (e.g. engineering, architecture, finance). It's ok if you're very rusty - candidates are provided with specific financial mathematics and statistics study resources. As long as you cover these, it will come back to you (much like a language!).

However, if you have just a few maths/stats papers as part of a broader tertiary degree or you've never studied statistics or maths at tertiary level, we recommend you don't undertake CIMA certification just yet. Instead, contact us for information about a maths prep course to complete before embarking on CIMA certification.

The process

All CIMA candidates globally complete the same process including five key steps:
1. Enrol
2. Ethics
3. Education
4. Examination
5. Experience

Step 1: ENROL

In the first instance, Australian- and NZ-based CIMA candidates enrol with Portfolio Construction Forum to manage them through the process, including booking their place on an Investment Management Analyst Course (IMAC). 

At the time you enrol for the CIMA program, you are also committing to attend a specific IMAC (see Step 3) as noted on the Enrolment Form. Your IMAC booking is non-transferable and non-refundable.

Within two to three Australian business days of receipt of your Enrolment Form, the Forum will:

  • confirm your enrolment and process the Enrolment Fee (or decline your enrolment and contact you to explain why);

  • forward your enrolment to the Denver USA-based international certifying body, the Investments & Wealth InstituteTM ("the Institute") which will contact you to get the ball rolling with Step 2.

  • notify the CIMA Society of Australia that you have enrolled, so that they can organise a complimentary one-year membership to the Society.


The Institute will contact you by email with instructions for completing an online application and paying an Application Fee which covers the cost of the Institute undertaking a background check to ensure you meet eligibility and to cover your Certification Exam fee (step 4).

  • If your application is not accepted - both the Enrolment Fee you've paid to the Forum and the Application Fee you've paid to the Institute will be refunded in full.

  • If your application is accepted - you become a CIMA candidate and the Enrolment Fee and Application Fee are non-refundable.

STEP 3: EDUCATION - the Investment Management Analyst Course (IMAC)

Candidates must successfully complete an executive education requirement through an approved registered education provider. In Australia and NZ, this is the blended online and residential Investment Management Analyst Course (IMAC), culminating in a four-hour exam. It is delivered by Portfolio Construction Forum's Investment Management Research Program, in collaboration with selected academic faculty of leading Australian university business schools, independent consultants and experienced practitioners. It is led by course director, Professor Ron Bird.

At the time you enrol for the CIMA program, you are also committing to attend a specific IMAC as noted on the Enrolment Form. Your IMAC booking is non-transferable and non-refundable.

The IMAC has been the core of the CIMA certification program in Australia since it was launched by Professor Bird in Australia in 2001.

The IMAC curriculum is based on the CIMA Core Body of Knowledge and is designed to provide you with up-to-date, in-depth exposure to a range of topics relevant to the Australian context. The main focus of the IMAC is on developing and implementing investment strategy within the domestic setting, whether it is for an individual or an institution. The program brings together theoretical and practical knowledge directly relevant to Australian-based portfolio construction practitioners. The approach taken is both inquisitive and critical, and designed to be very practical.

The IMAC is an intense, blended learning program consisting of online lectures that are completed prior to arrival, and four-day residential classroom lectures and study (8am to 9pm), at the H.C. Coombs Centre for Financial Studies in Kirribilli, Sydney.

The more foundational, static content of the IMAC is taught via online lectures which must be completed prior to arrival at the four-day residential classroom component of the IMAC. The classroom content then focuses more on practical and contemporary issues, involving academics from leading Australian university business schools, senior practitioners and consultants, enabling open conversation and learning. There is significant pre-reading for both the online and classroom lectures.

Preparing for the IMAC

The recommended preparation (including covering the online lectures) is around 10 hours a week for 10 weeks, taking care to follow the IMAC Detailed Course Outline which notes the preparation required.

The IMAC exam

The IMAC culminates on the final of the four days with a four-hour, classroom exam. The exam is based on the material taught via both the online lectures and classroom lectures.

Within two weeks of sitting the IMAC Exam, the Forum will email you advising of your result.

  • If you pass the IMAC Exam - the Forum will advise the Institute that you have passed and the Institute will then advise its independent test administrator, PearsonVue, that you are eligible to book a date to sit the Certification Exam.

  • If you don't pass the IMAC Exam - The Forum will work with you to agree a date for you to resit the IMAC Exam. There is no resit fee.

STEP 4: EXAMINATION - the global online Certification Exam

All CIMA candidates globally must successfully pass the five-hour, online Certification Exam.

4.1  Book a date to sit the Certification Exam

Once the Forum advises the Institute that you have passed the IMAC, the Institute will advise its independent test administrator, PearsonVue, that you are eligible to sit the Certification Exam. PearsonVue will then email you with instructions on how to book your exam date.

So you have a concrete goal to study towards, and because exam seats are at a premium, we strongly recommend that as soon as you hear from PearsonVue, you book a date to sit the Certification Exam. Once you so, you will receive a confirmation email from Pearson Vue within 24 hours (contact us if you don't get this). If you need to reschedule your exam date, you can do it online at the Pearson Vue site, but you must do so prior to 24 hours before your exam or you'll forfeit your exam fee.

4.2  Study for the Certification Exam

The recommended study is around 10 to 15 hours a week for 10 weeks, taking care to review the CIMA textbook including its practice exams, and the materials available in the CIMA Candidate Resources Centre (to which the Forum will provide you access).

4.3  Sit the Certification Exam

The supervised, online, five-hour Certification Exam consists of 125 multiple-choice questions and 15 non-scored, pretest questions. You may take an optional 15-minute break during the exam, but the timed exam will not stop.

You must arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time. You will be checked in, and you must complete a non-disclosure statement and a Tutorial consisting of instructions for taking the exam. You will then begin the timed exam.

You are allowed to take an approved financial calculator (you will be required to clear the memory prior to the exam commencing) and will be provided with a sample formula sheet at the testing centre, along with a laminated booklet and wipe-on/wipe-off pen for workings.

You can watch a short video outlining what to expect on the day.

Your exam result is provided on-screen immediately you finish the exam - you will be advised of a "pass" or "fail".

  • If you pass the Certification Exam - you are eligible to complete the final step of the CIMA certification process.

  • If you don't pass the Certification Exam - the Institute will email you with a list of topics that merit additional study, and process for resitting the exam. You must wait 30 days before resitting the exam, and a Resit Fee is payable to the Institute. Once paid, the Institute will notify PearsonVue that you are eligable to resit the exam. PearsonVue will then email you about how to schedule the resit.


Once you have passed the Certification Exam, you will receive an email from the Institute to complete the final steps which are done online. This includes:

  • completing and sign an agreement to adhere to the Investments & Wealth Institute’s Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules and Guidelines for the Use of the Marks;

  • demonstrating a minimum of three years’ work experience in financial services (if this is not possible, you can wait until the three year period is completed);

  • passing a second background check conducted by the Institute; and

  • paying the Initial Licensing Fee.

The Institute will then email you to confirm your CIMA certification. The Forum will send your framed CIMA certificate, you'll start receiving the Forum's CIMA Circular email, and we'll give you access to the Forum's CIMA CE Library (our online CE resource for CIMA certificants to help them meet the CIMA recertification requirements). We'll also advise the CIMA Society of Australia that you are a CIMA certificant, so they can invite you to their CE events.


CIMA certification must be renewed every two years following initial certification. To recertify, CIMA certificants must:

  • complete and report a minimum of 40 hours of accepted continuing education (CE) credit, including two ethics hours, over the two-year recertification period;

  • complete compliance requirements - including indicating continued adherence to the Code of Professional Responsibility, and Rules and Guidelines for Use of the Marks as well as disclosing any regulatory actions or complaints; and,

  • pay the Certification Renewal Fee;

The cost

Prices are correct and apply for calendar 2018.

Buy an up-to-date financial calcuator

You will need a scientific calculator throughout the CIMA program (we'll provide you with an online tutorial to refamiliarise yourself with how to use one). The Institute will allow use of the following calculators on the CIMA® Certification Examination: HP 10b, HP 10bII, HP 10bII Plus, HP 12C, HP 12C Platinum, HP 17B, HP 17BII and HP 17BII Plus, as well as the Texas Instrument BA II Plus, BA II Plus Professional and BA II Plus Business Analyst. Newer and older versions of these calculators will be allowed for use.

Fee paid to the Forum

  • Enrolment Fee: The Enrolment Fee (“Enrolment Fee”) is payable to Portfolio Construction Forum by credit card on enrolment. It is A$7,500+GST however Practitioners (as defined by Portfolio Construction Forum) receive a A$2,500+GST bursary on enrolment, reducing the fee to A$5,000+GST, applied at the time of processing the enrolment fee. This fee covers the cost of the Forum managing you through the certification process including a copy of the textbook and the online and classroom components of the IMAC including lectures, review sessions, meals, and accommodation. This fee may be tax deductible. All other expenses related to attending the IMAC and any fees payable to the Institute as outlined on are your responsibility.

Fees paid to the Investments & Wealth Institute

  • Application FeeUS$600, payable to the Institute as part of Step 2 above. This covers the Institute's initial background check of you and the Certification Exam fee.

  • Initial Licensing Fee:  US$275, payable to the Institute at the last step of the certification process.

Plus, if you have to resit any exam:

  • Resit Fee - IMAC Exam:  A$0

  • Resit Fee - Certification Exam:  US$225, payable to the Institute.

Recertification fees

Every two years, a Recertfication Fee is payable:

  • CIMA Society of Australia members: US$275 - however this fee is prepaid on your behalf as part of your CIMA Society of Australia membership fee (so as long as your membership remains current, you won't have any further fee to pay on recertification);

  • Non-CIMA Society of Australia members: US$895

Getting started - enrol now

The first step in your CIMA certification journey is complete the Enrolment Form and return it to the Forum. 

Tips to completing the Enrolment Form
1. Click on the Enrolment Form link below
2. Browse to where you saved the Form, and open it from there. Complete the form fields onscreen including signing (follow the prompts).
3. Email your completed form to

Download the Enrolment Form

What happens next?
The CIMA certification process steps are explained in "The Process" above.