Choosing between ACCA's Advanced Financial Management (AFM) and Advanced Performance Management (APM)

Richard Clarke


Difficulty Levels

AFM (Advanced Financial Management)

  • Technical Complexity: AFM is known for its technical rigor, involving complex calculations and financial theories such as adjusted present values, swap valuations, and the Black-Scholes option pricing model.
  • Pass Rates: Historically, AFM has had higher pass rates compared to APM. This might be because students who choose AFM are often more prepared for its technical demands.
  • Exam Structure: AFM exams are more objective, with clear right or wrong answers, especially in the calculation parts. This can make it easier to gauge your performance during the exam.

APM (Advanced Performance Management)

  • Subjectivity: APM requires a deep understanding of business performance and strategic decision-making. The exam is more subjective, focusing on recommendations, concepts, and commercial acumen.
  • Pass Rates: APM generally has lower pass rates, which could be due to the subjective nature of the exam and the difficulty in applying theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios.
  • Exam Structure: APM involves less calculation and more written analysis, requiring strong articulation and critical thinking skills. This can be challenging for those who are more comfortable with numerical problems.

Personal Strengths and Preferences

  • Numerical vs. Written Skills: If you excel in numerical and technical calculations, AFM might be more suitable. Conversely, if you are better at writing and critical analysis, APM could be a better fit.
  • Interest Areas: Consider your career goals. AFM is ideal for roles in finance, investment banking, and financial management. APM is better suited for careers in management consultancy, business analysis, and strategic planning.

Preparation and Study Time

  • AFM: Requires thorough understanding and practice of financial calculations. It might be easier to self-study if you have a strong foundation in financial management.
  • APM: Demands extensive practice in applying theoretical knowledge to case studies and real-world scenarios. It might benefit more from guided learning and feedback on written answers.


Both AFM and APM are challenging in their own ways. Your choice should depend on your strengths, career aspirations, and personal preferences. If you prefer technical calculations and clear-cut answers, AFM might be easier for you. If you enjoy strategic thinking and written analysis, APM could be more suitable.