Skipping AAT and studying CIMA - bad idea?

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I am a Business Management graduate that finished my studies in early April of 2023, I have very little accounting knowledge (bar a course I took at university) however I always knew that I wanted to study and work at the same time, which is something that Graduate Jobs normally offer. After applying and being rejected from hundreds of jobs within the last 3 months, I was offered a role as a Trainee Management Accountant at a company I am very interested in. During the interview, I was told that they are looking for someone fresh out of university with little to no experience with accounting as they wanted to 'mold me', full training would be offered and after my probation ends I would begin my studies. This sounded like a fantastic opportunity and I took the position with high hopes. 
 

I have been in the job for a month now and have received almost no training other than an online course I had to do where I just watched videos. As you could imagine, I still have very little knowledge of accounting other than the pieces I have picked up from asking questions and trying to teach myself. My trainer is constantly busy, gives me 5 minutes of her time and sets me off on a task where half the time I have no clue what I am doing. 
 

Recently I asked about what my training would be like and she told me they are planning to skip AAT and move me straight onto CIMA. This came as a shock as they knew who they were hiring, I was very honest about my background so I naturally assumed the starting point would be AAT level 2; but they have said that there is no point doing it as AAT can be repetitiveness and teach you the same things as CIMA. I still think this is setting me up for failure - does anyone have any thoughts on this? 

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
10th Jan 2024 09:15

As a graduate why do you think you cannot take CIMA without AAT?

Graduates ought to be able to self learn far more readily than non graduates, the point of university is partly to impart the skill of being able to learn.

I see no issues, once your probation finishes you ought to embrace your studies (Though you could also self study whilst waiting)

Just to make you aware, accountancy is a career of constant study, year after year , for me 40 years this year, very little of that study was supervised, most was self taught.

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By GKD
10th Jan 2024 09:29

My worries come from speaking to other Accountants in the company and being told that I am being set up for failure if I skip AAT. As I have neither studied AAT or CIMA, I cannot create an opinion of my own which is why I sought out the opinions of others. I am excited to study, but I do not want to put myself in a situation where I have not learned the basics first. My degree has no correlation with my job role either, although the soft skills learned in an education environment are helpful - they cannot provide me with skills beyond that.

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
10th Jan 2024 09:51

Correlation of degree should not matter, I believe these days ICAEW and ICAS take non relevant graduates direct into their training process and they prosper so why not CIMA?

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Replying to DJKL:
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By GKD
10th Jan 2024 11:17

Well, is taking CIMA too big of a step instead of taking smaller steps such as AAT level 2 to 4 when I have no educational background on Accountancy?

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By tom123
10th Jan 2024 10:03

If you are confident in your ability to study then I would go straight to CIMA.
I wouldn't be quick to dismiss AAT - I have an apprentice who has just completed level 2 - and it has been fairly technical, and certainly not a walk in the park - but, it does add years onto the time until you are fully trained.

You may need to study bookkeeping in addition though - as that is a tricky thing to get your head around.

CIMA and management accountancy can get you a great career - right up to boardroom level - so I wish you the best of luck.

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By Duggimon
10th Jan 2024 10:37

My degree was in Computer Science and when I decided to come to accountancy I went straight in to ICAS, didn't even consider doing an intermediary step because nobody at the firm I trained with suggested it.

It was a bit of a steep learning curve, prior to that I'm not sure I'd even used a spreadsheet for more than a handy way to read a CSV, but it was fine and shaved at least a year off getting qualified.

Presumably you won't be the only CIMA student starting from cold and your degree is at least related.

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By B Roberts
10th Jan 2024 11:10

It seems that you may be struggling to settle in your new job? - it can be difficult in your first "proper" job after 18 years in education.

Your comment that you feel your employer is "setting you up to fail" doesn't make sense on any level - why would they spend time and money to train you on the job and to pay for your external training in the hope that you would fail?

You have only been there for 1 month, keep positive and learn as much as you can

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Replying to B Roberts:
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By GKD
10th Jan 2024 11:13

To clarify, the only reason the phrase 'set you up to fail' was stated was because another team member spoke to me about the subject and believed that AAT seemed the logical step within my studies and that I would land up failing if I did jumped too many hoops at once. I'm not stating they're trying to be malicious.

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By The Rogue
10th Jan 2024 11:11

I started with AAT because at the time I was self-employed and considering adding book keeping to the services I offered. I went straight in to year two because I had two A levels (this was in the 1990s) but because I had no relevant experience struggled a bit until I picked up a year one text book to fill the gaps. I subsequently started working in accounts departments and took CIMA.

I don't think I needed anything from the AAT studies to help with CIMA so going straight in wouldn't be a problem as far as passing it is concerned. However, I do think that CIMA does not help understanding of the day to day mechanics of an accounts department. At one point we recruited someone who was in her third year of CIMA but she had never opened a cash book in her life and had a lot to learn about how an accounts department works.

I qualified with CIMA twenty years ago so things may be different now. I still find courses and events that interest me which helps with CPD. These aren't all directly accountancy-related. Mental health and neuro-diversity feature at the moment.

So my answer to the OP is that not taking AAT isn't a hindrance to CIMA success but taking it could be beneficial for your career.

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DougScott
By Dougscott
10th Jan 2024 11:11

I graduated with a Biology degree and went straight into a training contract with a big firm of accountants for ICAEW qualifications. To be fair we also got a lot of in-house training in the basics such as double-entry bookkeeping, extended trial balances, etc which undoubtedly helped and it sounds like you may need to do that yourself where you are.

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By Wanderer
10th Jan 2024 11:39

No degree here and first time passes all the way through ICAEW.

Don't dismiss AAT as an option. Some of those that I've worked with, and employed, in the past showed a much greater level of understanding, particularly of the fundamentals, then many 'fully qualified' do, to the point that I preferred to employ AAT compared to ICAEW / ACCA / CIMA.

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By Leywood
10th Jan 2024 15:44

Pick up a bookkeeping for dummies book for less than £15 on Amazon, or Frank woods book-keeping and accounts for a fiver from ebay. You could work your way through that in a weekend.

Or do part of the AAT level 2 under your own steam, just to get the basics for the double entry/cash book type elements. The rest you can get from CIMA.

Ignore the staff member who made the ridiculous comment about setting you up to fail. Smacks of jeaslousy or their own inferiority complex.

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By CHancott
12th Jan 2024 12:31

I did CIMA and AAT and they are completely different! I would recommend both…

Only 1/3 of CIMA is finance based And It covers no tax at all.

Employing many finance team members in my time, those who have a degree and go straight into CIMA lack accounting skills. this makes them more suited to big business. I would find they also struggled with core work like balance sheet recs, and financial analysis and they didn’t understand how all the transactions linked in the background and the systems worked.

Climbing the career ladder I used AAT far more than CIMA, until I got to senior management accountant/FD level and then CIMA is invaluable.

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By Lisa R
12th Jan 2024 15:07

Hi, it was a long long time ago now but I gave all my old AAT books to my local library once I was done with them all. Might be worth checking libraries near you or seeing if you can get "recent" books cheap on ebay. At least then you can look through them and see if you feel like you understand what's in them and then you can decide whether you might need to actually do the course.

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