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CGMA Designation: Is the Title Worth Your Time and Money?

CGMA designationGGMA®, which stands for Chartered Global Management Accountant, is a relatively new designation for management accountants. The title is granted by a joint venture between the AICPA and CIMA.

(For those who need some background, AICPA is a national association of US CPAs. CIMA is essentially the UK/commonwealth countries version of CMA.)

Why the CGMA Designation?

The CGMA website has the “official” reasons why you want to become a CGMA. The following are my reasons in the practical point of view.

1. You Can Were Able to “Buy” This Designation

Before the launch of CGMA exam in January 2015, CIMA members are automatically qualified for CGMA. The same applies to AICPA members as long as they fulfill the 3-year experience requirements.

Since January 2015, applicants need to take the CGMA exam to get the designation. But I bet the vast majority of CGMAs got the title simply by filling a form and pay the fee prior to 2015.

2. Most AICPA Members Work in the Industry Anyway

Here is the rationale behind this joint venture in my opinion: most AICPA members actually work in corporates instead of public accounting firms. These CPAs are looking for recognition of their management accounting expertise. CGMA is an easy way to ride on AICPA’s existing membership.

3. AICPA / CIMA Really Want to Build a Global Brand

Accounting standards used to be different across the globe. Because of this, it is very hard to build a global designation for accountants. Now that the accounting standards are converging, and that management accounting concepts are similar across countries anyway, AICPA and CIMA decide to join hands to establish a new, truly global brand.

The CFA Institute has been wildly successful in monopolizing the finance designation on a global scale. The IIA also grants only internal audit certification in the world. It is possible that the two institutes are able to pull this off.

CGMA vs CMA

1. Now, Both Designations Require an Exam

CMA

The CMA designation granted by the IMA has been established for more than 40 years. Although membership is much smaller than that of the AICPA, it has a sizable community of around 20,000 active CMAs and 70,000 IMA members. It has also established a strong footprint in China and the Middle East.

The CMA program is rigorous requiring the passing of a difficult 2-part exam together with 2 years of relevant experience. Employers pay more respect to a title that is earned rather than paid.

CGMA

The exam has been launched in January 2015 and it has become mandatory for the CGMA designation.

The exam is developed by CGMA to test a candidate’s problem solving skills in real business situations. Coverage includes financial strategy, risk management and strategic management, as well as research, data analysis and communication skills. The exam is delivered online in case study format.

In my opinion, it is similar to the format of the CIMA exam. Please click here for my latest finding of the CGMA exam.

2. More Titles = More Maintenance Fees + More CPE?

The fee is now $100 to 150 per year for AICPA members (more details below). For now, the CPE requirement for AICPA member and CGMA designation holders is the same.

3. Risk of Being Seen as Title Collectors?

Some employers may not like this CGMA idea (especially if the boss is a CMA). You may be seen as someone who collect titles for the sake of it.

4. Can the CGMA Designation Hold Up to Its Name?

AICPA has ventured out to certifications peripheral to accounting, without much success in my opinion. PFS (Personal Financial Specialist) hasn’t done well in comparison to CFP. The IT certification (for IT auditors) is less recognized than CISA.

More Comparison in Video Format

How to Become a CGMA

This summary is based on my latest understanding of the CGMA exam and certification requirement. Given this is a new designation, rules may change frequently. Please double check this information with that on the official website.

1. Become an AICPA or CIMA Member

The CGMA certification is open to AICPA or CIMA members only.

2. Complete the CGMA Exam

You must also take and pass the CGMA exam.

3. Fulfill the Experience Requirement

For AICPA Members

After the exam, you will need to accumulate 3 years of relevant experience based on the “competency framework”. According to my research, this includes:

  • financial accounting, management accounting or internal audit in business, industry or government; or
  • financial/management accounting experience on a consulting basis; or
  • management accounting role focused on the management and operation of an accounting firm.

Note:

  • You can also replace 1 year of the above with 1 year of public accounting experience.
  • Personal financial services experience does not qualify for eligibility.

For CIMA Members

The experience required to become a CIMA is sufficient for the CGMA designation. Therefore, CIMA members are automatically entitled to become CGMA at no extra cost. All fees are included in the CIMA subscription.

3. Other Designation Holders

CPA licensees who are not AICPA members are not eligible to become a CGMA. Generally speaking, the administrator encourages US candidates to choose the AICPA route, and others to choose the CIMA.

How Much Does It Cost?

The CGMA designation is free for CIMA members. For AICPA members who are eligible, the registration fee is $150 per year. Dual state CPA society-AICPA members receive a $50 savings, making the cost $100 per year.

My Thoughts

CGMA is duplicating what IMA is trying to achieve. In my opinion, the designation is created largely for CIMA and (especially) AICPA to promote their brands, add value to the membership and increase revenue stream.

IMA could have done better in growing its brand among business and corporations, but it’s still more credible. For now, I am happy to stick with the CMA designation 🙂

Step 2: Understand the
CGMA Exam Structure and Difficulty

From Our Blogger…
CGMA vs CMA vs CPA

For Your Further Reading

About the Author Stephanie Ng

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.

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