The Real Value of the CFA Charter


The demand for CFA in UAE has seen an exponential rise over the past decade. Attaining a CFA Charter is considered a key indicator of solid financial knowledge and can often be observed as a crucial decision-making criterion by employers when hiring for various roles within the finance industry.

While CFA has always been much coveted and sought after in the arena of professional development, the demand for it has only increased in the last few years due to the alarmingly low pass rates. The low pass rates make the qualification a worthy and exclusive achievement in the finance industry especially among early to mid-career professionals.

However, it is also no secret that working towards earning this qualification is a challenging task. It requires an average of 900 hours of total study time from aspirants and intense dedication despite which most candidates are met with disappointment in their attempts with a pass rate as low as about 22%.

These statistics often lead aspirants to question the overall value of CFA, opting for the CFA classes and whether or not it is truly worth pursuing. Here is a compilation of the key-value additions that CFA offers to help you understand the true worth of the qualification and assist you in making your decision with better awareness.


Higher salary

A boost in salary is perhaps the most commonly known and often mistaken as the only perk to come with the CFA Charter.

According to the CFA Institute’s 2019 survey, CFA salaries are 40% more than their peers and roughly 25% more than MBA holders annually. Therefore, when compensation is the criteria for deciding among aspirants between CFA vs MBA, the former stands at a clear advantage.

Qualification Standardization

The CFA Charterholders enjoy a very high international career mobility. There is little relevance or emphasis paid on the fact where they have attained the charter since it’s a standard form of professional development recognized by employers and countries around the world.

Also, when seeking employment, CFA Charterholders have a higher chance of securing placements since employers across the world acknowledge the dedication and efforts that are involved in earning the charter.


The CFA also has proven to be a very good return on investment, especially when pitched against an MBA degree. While an average MBA may require you to shell out an average of $180,000 and two years of time to pursue the full-time degree, a CFA charter can be attained within a comparatively affordable range of $2500 to $8000.

It is also important to note that most professionals who choose to pursue the CFA qualification, continue their jobs full-time and therefore it does not pose a hindrance to their careers.

In addition, the CFA Institute also presents scholarship opportunities to aspiring candidates who need financial assistance that includes an enrollment fee waiver and a significant discount on registration costs.


With an impressively wide global network of more than 170,000 members, the CFA Institute offers exclusive opportunities to its Charterholders to connect and engage in member-only events. CFA networking is often seen to be highly effective among job-seekers in the industry.

Regional and local CFA societies regularly organize invitation-based meets to expand professional networks and educational seminars thereby enhancing the scope for continued professional development.

Career Progression

Those professionals who make it through the rather difficult journey of taking the exams and becoming certified Charterholders reap attractive rewards for their hard work. Based on the CFA employment statistics for the period ranging from 2015-2019, it was observed that the number of CFAs hired by the top 10 companies significantly increased year after year. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley depicted the most consistent growth by hiring over 13% more CFAs annually.

It is also commonly observed in the recent hiring trends that employers tend to have a higher regard for CFA applicants since they acknowledge the potential employee’s dedication, hard work, and commitment to personal growth, therefore, making them an attractive prospect to contribute to a firm’s success.


Ultimately, all these factors associated with the CFA qualification empower professionals to significantly boost their careers and open more opportunities for future success! The choice is yours to make, and if you are looking to enroll in CFA course in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the Middle East, contact Kaplan Professional to know how we can help you!

Top 7 differences between CMA vs CPA


For many candidates seeking to grow in the field of accounting, a common question arises when choosing between two certifications: CMA vs CPA? Considering the importance of the decision and the impact it can have on someone’s career, it is only fair that candidates invest considerable time and energy before they come to a conclusion.

The CMA stands for Certified Management Accountant and is a certification pursued by individuals keen on learning budgeting and management accounting while the CPA is short for Certified Public Accountant that offers skills and knowledge in the field of auditing, management accounting, accounts handling, taxation, etc. Both certifications function as value additions in accounting however they have a difference in their approach. As explained above, a CMA handles the cost and financial analysis whereas a CPA overlooks tax and auditing.

To begin with, it is important to understand the difference between the two certifications and the perks that each of them offers. This article will provide you with insights on the key differences in seven important areas to help you make an informed choice.


Awarding Body and Member Network

The CMA certification is awarded by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) that has a widespread network of over 140,000 members across more than 150 countries worldwide.

The CPA on the other hand is awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and has a member network of about 400,000 members in 100 countries globally.

Both the awarding bodies are highly renowned and respected in the field of accounting and membership in either one of them is highly coveted by most accounting professionals.

Exam Pattern and Syllabus

The CMA is a 2-part exam that emphasizes building analytical skills like critical decision making and data reporting. The key subjects that constitute the CMA certification are performance management, decision analysis, financial statement analysis, professional ethics, cost management, budgeting, and forecasting among several others. Between the two parts, the subjects are divided into areas as below:

  • Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics
  • Part 2: Strategic Financial Management


The CPA is a 4-part exam that is focused on developing knowledge in subjects such as corporate governance, federal taxation, economic concepts, professional ethics and general business principles, etc. The key areas that the 4 parts of the exam cover are:

  • Business Environment and Concepts
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Audit and Attestation
  • Regulation


Duration for Completion

To complete the CMA certification in Dubai, UAE, or anywhere in the world, a candidate gets a total duration of 3 years or 36 months to clear both parts of the exam from the day of the registration. However, for CPA, candidates are given 18 months from the time that they clear their first part, to successfully complete all remaining parts of the exam.


As far as eligibility is concerned, both CMA and CPA require a candidate to have a bachelor’s degree or related professional certification. Besides, CMA requires two years of management accounting or financial management experience, while CPA requires two years of public accounting experience.

After being certified, a CMA needs to complete 30 hours of Continuing Education every year to maintain their respective certifications. A CPA, however, needs to complete 40 hours of Continuing Education every year.

Career Scope and Skills Obtained

CMA-certified professionals develop expertise in interpreting data and analyzing it to drive financial improvements within a business. With a higher inclination towards strategic thinking, CMAs are involved in building forward-looking strategies for organizations. In terms of careers chosen, they are observed to have generally shown an interest in working for big corporations with job profiles such as consultants, cost accountants, financial risk managers, etc.

CMA salaries, over the span of their career, are at an average of about AED 250,000 annually according to the IMA’s 2021 UAE Salary Survey.

Certified CPA professionals develop the ability for crunching numbers on a day-to-day basis for various accounting activities with the primary focus on taxation and auditing. They are observed to choose careers such as a financial advisor or accountant with job profiles ranging from public accountants to internal auditors, management accountants, etc.

Salaries of CPAs, over the course of their careers, are reported to be around AED 200,000 annually according to the Robert Walters Salary Survey 2020 for the Middle East and Africa.

Exam Fees and Passing Rates

On average, the CMA certification can cost approximately AED 3,700 which includes all entrance and exam fees whereas the CPA certification costs around AED 5,500 including the application, exam, and licensing fees. However, it is important to also note that both these fees mentioned do not cover the cost of additional review courses that most candidates prefer to take for studying under guidance.

The low passing rates for both are a testimonial of how challenging the exams can be and show that the certifications demand a considerable amount of effort and dedication from candidates. While the CMA has an average pass rate of 45% in the Middle East for both parts [Source: IMA 2020], the CPA has an average pass rate of 50% globally [Source: AICPA 2020].

Exam Availability

The IMA generally conducts the CMA exams every year in three testing windows, that are:

  • January 01 – February 28
  • May 01 – June 30
  • September 01 – October 31


The AICPA has switched the CPA exams to a Continuous Testing Model from 1st July 2020, which allows candidates to appear for the CPA exams anytime throughout the year.


The comparison between the CMA and CPA certifications shows that while both are equally good and respected in the field of accounting, they lead aspirants to different and varied career paths when observed closely. In conclusion, if you’re a candidate seeking growth in management and decision making, then it would be advisable for you to choose the CMA certification, and if you’re keen on developing skills in auditing, taxation, and regulation, then you should opt for the CPA.

Ultimately, the choice is yours to make, and if you are looking to enroll in CMA training in UAE, contact Kaplan Professional to know how we can help you!