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Why the CMA (and Not the CPA Designation)?

why CMA certificationCasey is our latest blogger from the US. He shares his progress on the CMA exam every Wednesday. This is his first post.

This week’s post I wanted to focus really on the CMA and why this certification is important.

First off I wanted to talk about the great debate between the CMA and CPA. In my previous job, I had a conversation with my manager concerning the CMA and the CPA. It was his thought that the CPA is the only license/certification that had any merit.

When I discussed with him that the CPA does not fully cover some of the operational and analysis parts that the CMA does, he did not have an answer.

CPA and CMA: Complimentary and Not Competitors

I do not view the CPA and CMA as competitors but more like compliments to one another.

The CPA is great for auditing and being able to attest to financial statements while the CMA will allow you the ability to understand the numbers behind the P&L or Balance Sheet. Keep this in mind if you are considering one or the other.

For me, the CMA Part 1 has already paid off in my mind regardless of the exam score. I have recently transferred to a small business (less than $10M annually) as their CFO. The company is a co-packer of beef jerky. It is essentially a manufacturing type of environment.

The first two weeks here the firm was faced with some internal control issues as well as proper job cost accounting issues. Right off the bat just thinking about the issues we are facing, the concepts that are being hammered into my head during the study phase led me to have almost immediate solutions to the problems.

Based on what I have already learned from the CMA and began to implement here at my current employer I have already seen big results. These results have led to some success and in turn have led others in the company to want to take part of the success.

Knowing that the concepts do pay off keeps me motivated for the eventual Part 2 of the exam. If you are studying right now for the exam and are wondering why on earth am I doing this, understand that you are essentially gaining the keys to success that you can implement at your works.

Change and success at any employer are the number one driver for job satisfaction. As always, if you have any questions let me know by leaving a comment below.

Note from Stephanie

I really enjoyed reading your story on how the CMA has an immediate and tangible impact on your career — not just on the financial side, but also on equipping you with the right skills and thus job satisfaction. This is to me very important to have an enjoyable and successful career.

It’s also really interesting to get a glimpse on what you face as a new CFO as well. Thanks so much for sharing your first-hand experience!

About the Author Casey W

I'm Casey from the great state of Kentucky. I'm a huge outdoors and sports fan. I recently attained the position of CFO at a small but growing meat processing company. The CMA is one of my greatest achievements I hope to add to my list of accomplishments. If there are any questions about my posts or me feel free to leave a comment below.

Leave a Comment:

8 comments
shantanu says August 4, 2016

Hello. I am shantanu. My career aspirations are to be a cfo/CEO of a company. I have interest in accounting and finance. Currently pursuing ACCA from India. Which course would you recommend CPAor CMA or perhaps CIMA? I want my career on a truly international scale.

Reply
Leonard says May 7, 2017

Question:
When presenting the month end financials to the leadership team straight after closing the books, does your analysis and presentation highlight the variances to budget/forecast? If so, does your analysis tell “why” and “what” is driving the variances?
For example, why sales are high or low in a particular area? I can identify variance areas, price and quantity variance, but struggle with the reason why sales are better or worst?

This is an area of accounting I struggle with when meeting with the board or senior leadership team? Is it the role of the Controller/CFO or GM’s?

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says May 9, 2017

    Hi Leonard, for technical questions on the exam, it is better to ask your review course providers and their team. I don’t actually teach the course (and nor the vast majority of readers here) and I don’t want to give you a less than correct answer.

    Reply
    Matt Capozzi says December 6, 2017

    Leonard, it depends on your leadership team and the levels of the company. I am a controller at a medium size company that has no CFO, therefore I am acting in that capacity at times with the owners. If the owners or upper management at a facility or region are good (in my opinion) they will want to see the variances. Once you sit down or meet with them on the variances, you use your technical expertise to pull out numbers and ask questions which will in turn allow operations to answer questions. It’s an interesting process that gets easier over time. It’s also very dependent on the manager as some understand numbers and others do not, some are hiding information for fear of issues, others are overly forward and helpful. Don’t be worried if you’re not great at it right away, its a skill and it can be honed and grown over time, just don’t get discouraged.

    Reply
      Matt Capozzi says December 6, 2017

      Just to clarify my answer, it’s through the questioning process that you will learn what caused the variances. Maybe the operational team has undergone high turnover and new people are not doing well, maybe a top sales person took a leave of absence or a veteran team is just crushing it. You aren’t out there with these teams in operations, so it’s important to ask the right questions, to keep notes on the answers each month and use your analytical skills and information to help them and your boss.

      Reply
        Stephanie Ng says December 7, 2017

        Thanks for the sharing Matt! It is always great to hear from experienced professionals with practical advice. Cheers, Stephanie

        Reply
          Matt Capozzi says December 8, 2017

          You’re welcome, I was looking at your website for dates on exam date releases. I took part 1 of the CMA last year and passed. I just completed Part 2 in October, so I am eagerly awaiting my results. It’s a great website and if I can ever offer advice again, please let me know. My email is ***DELETED***

          Reply
          Stephanie Ng says December 28, 2017

          That’s great Matt! For now I’ve deleted your email to protect you from spam, but if people ask questions you will be alerted by email. Thanks! Stephanie

          Reply
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