The Wonderful World of Study Support

It is widely accepted now that companies will financially support employees through professional accountancy qualifications. For candidates embarking on the CIMA or ACCA qualification, however, the term “study support” can have a variety of meanings and be the cause of some confusion which I’ll seek to clear up here.

Why do I need Study Support?

You might not! Not everyone’s personal financial situation is the same but with the average yearly spend on studying falling around the £3,000 mark, financial  support is an attractive option for many part qualified accountants and graduates.

What is Study Support?

What you can expect to receive from an employer really varies from company to company. Larger businesses or those with a track record of taking on graduates or school leavers often have a comprehensive package which will financially cover all tuition, exams and course materials. They may also offer time off around exam dates. It is common in these cases for employees to study and pass exams on a structured timetable dictated by the employer and is usually geared towards ensuring that studiers become qualified within 2-3 years.

In SMEs or less structured environments, employers may pay a percentage (usually upwards of 80%) of all costs incurred or contribute to an element of study. You may find in this case a slower or faster pace of study can be achieved depending on personal preference.

How this contribution is paid very much depends on the type of business you work for. Some employers will prefer to pay fees directly to the learning institutions as part of a structured programme of study. Others will simply pay the bill as and when the employee takes an exam.

Important things to consider…

Most businesses will not provide study support before a probationary period has been passed

As a result, details of study support will often not be outlined in offer letters or contracts but be a separate contract presented to you at the time.

You may need to pay the money back…

If you leave the business before qualifying or shorty after. This is usually on a sliding scale so for example if you leave a business 3 months after qualification you might need to pay back 80% whereas if you leave 12 months after leaving, it could be as low as 30%. Eventually of course the pay back amount will run down to zero.

Make sure you have thought it through!

Studying towards CIMA/ACCA/ACA is a significant commitment and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. For those set on a career in accountancy, however, the rewards and prospects it offers are considerable.

Most importantly, for the ambitious accountant for whom a CFO/FD role is the long term aim, qualification is a must-have.

Caitlan recruits part qualified accountants in the North West. If you’d like a confidential discussion about your career, advice on CV preparation or interview technique, please contact her on 0161 828 3010 or by email to