Commercial Essentials Certificate

Who is this qualification for?

Primarily for Senior Account Manager and Account Director level (or equivalent), the qualification is also suitable for any staff who want to raise their commercial nous and get a better understanding of the commercial factors influencing agencies and clients.

What are the benefits?

  • How agencies make money and the financial processes within an agency
  • The financial language in use in client and agency businesses today
  • What best practice financial management looks like for day to day activities such as media booking and production
  • The KPIs clients and agencies use to measure the commercial success
  • The different feel models in use today
  • How to scope a project

How is the qualification delivered and assessed?

  • There are approximately 12 hours of online learning accessible through the IPA website on any device or via the IPA Learning app.
  • By completing a diagnostic quiz before you start, you can tailor your learning and the level of detail of your study.
  • If you complete all seven modules, two self-tests, and pass the online exam, you will be awarded one MIPA star.

Learning Outcomes

Module 1: Understanding Agency Finances

This module explores the language and processes of finance i.e. what key financial terms mean and how finance is managed in a typical Advertising and Communications business.

Module 2: The Key Numbers for Agencies

Explores KPIs (key performance indicators), we focus on which KPIs are used to measure an agency’s financial performance and the key ratios used across the industry to benchmark KPIs.

Module 3: Fees: How Agencies Are Paid

Looks at the different fee models in use today and the advantages and disadvantages of each. We look at the principles of pricing and the six factors influencing pricing decisions. Importantly, this module includes a section on understanding the role a client’s procurement department plays and how to get them on side.

Module 4: Finance and Production

This module teaches how to effectively manage the complex and costly process of production to produce quality assets while avoiding exposing the client or agency to financial risk. We give an insight into different production processes and the tools and strategies for good financial management.

Module 5: Finance and Media Agencies

We look at how to manage media-specific finance issues including credit insurance, the client approval process and media bookings. We take a look at the financial considerations of booking media in today’s “always on” world.

Module 6: Scope of Work

This module explains the financial importance of a scope of work. It guides you through how to create and manage a scope of work. It also provides a downloadable SOW template, one of the most important tools to ensure your projects deliver on time and budget.

Module 7: Understanding Client Finances

We look at some of the financial terminology likely to be used by clients, what to look for in a client’s annual report and which business metrics clients typically use to measure an agency’s impact on their business.

Become qualified in evaluating and measuring advertising and marketing effectiveness


Member Price


Non-Member Price


Intake Dates

The 2022 intake commences on 30 May 2022.


Hannah McWilliam

Client Partner, Greenhouse GroupM

“The commercial detail of agencies is usually kept separate by the commercial leaderships team and the buyers so being exposed to the background of deal structures and the mechanics through which we make money is extremely interesting for a planner who is normally insulated from this detail. “

Portia Ingram

Account Manager, OgilvyOne Business

“It’s always beneficial to add more professional qualifications to your CV. This particular qualification is easy to complete (online and in your own time), covers essential elements for Account Managers – particularly for those wanting to develop and grow, and expands your commercial understanding of the industry – it really does enhance your day-to-day activities in a positive way making you think and reflect on actions and their impacts.”