When talking about certifications prized by the Big 4, everyone sounds like a broken record: the CPA, the CPA, the CPA, and just to mix it up, sometimes they mention THE CPA. Is there any other certification that Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst and Young (EY), and KPMG find appealing? What about the CMA, another one of the top accounting certifications? Does the Big 4 value the CMA, or even know it exists? (Discover the CMA for yourself in this free guide.)
Well, yes and no. And yes.
The Big 4 does know that the CMA exists (I’ve included the proof below). Its members have places for CMAs within their companies. And while the CPA is still top dog, there are compelling reasons why the CMA is beneficial even if that’s not the loudest message being sent by the Big 4.
What value does the CMA have in accounting?
The CMA isn’t designed specifically for public accounting the same way the CPA is. It’s better for industry accounting. In fact, it’s the leading credential for management accounting. While the CPA is hot within the Big 4, the CMA is in demand at Fortune 500 companies and those with manufacturing facilities requiring cost and inventory management.
CMAs can work for a range of businesses, but they are especially valued at larger companies, as smaller organizations don’t always need a professional specializing in management accounting and costing.
Both CPAs and CMAs can hold titles like CFO or controller. However, CMAs have the edge when it comes to making high-level management decisions. For that reason, a good number of people in senior management roles for strategic planning, accounting, and finance are CMAs.
What value does the CMA have in the Big 4?
The CMA is a global certification. And as the Big 4 offers many different services to a wide variety of clients, including multinational companies, some Big 4 members have positions available for CMAs. In fact, the Big 4 firms retain a staff of management accountants dedicated to advising large companies on questions related to restructuring and potential tax savings.
Some of the other CMA positions available at the Big 4 include:
- Risk Management Advisory Manager
- Accounting & Reporting Transformation Senior Consultant
- Government & Public Sector Strategy Manager
- Risk Assurance Advisor (Manager)
- International Tax Services Senior Manager
- Risk Transformation Advisory Senior Manager
What value does the CMA have to me?
Geez, do I have to tell you how to do everything?
Well I will, because this information is difficult to Google and you seem like a very nice person. I’m going to give you three really good reasons to earn the CMA. And I doubt the first one will be a hard sell: The CMA can increase your personal revenue.
If you’re a fan of, you know, money, then you should know that dual certification is a great way to get more of it. Dual certification means you have two certifications (duh, I know), and it’s a very lucrative exploit. One of the best certification combinations is CPA + CMA.
For years now, the Institute of Management Accountants salary survey has noted that accountants with both the CMA and CPA make more money than accountants with just one. The most recent survey reports that dual certification accountants earn an average of 59% more than single certification accountants.
When you break down the median total compensation for dual certification holders by age range, you get amounts like these:
- 20-29: $78,000
- 30-39: $122,250
- 40-49: $145,000
- 50 and older: $140,500
I don’t know about you, but that looks like more than enough to pay for all the trouble of earning both certifications.
So, don’t choose between the two—get both and make bank!
My second reason for using the CMA to make your way in the Big 4 is job quality over quantity. Big 4 firms typically offer thousands more CPA jobs than CMA jobs. While you may think those figures demonstrate favoritism, I like to think of it as selectivity.
If you’re fine with being another fish in the sea at a Big 4 firm, the CPA will give you plenty of job options to choose from. But if you’d like to jump straight into a high-quality Big 4 position, get yourself the CMA. According to the IMA, 64% of CMAs say they’re satisfied with their jobs, with their favorite aspects being relationships with coworkers, employee benefits, and salary.
And finally, my third reason for becoming a CMA is the job options you’ll have outside of the Big 4. If the time ever comes when you’d like to say goodbye to your trusty old life at the Big 4 and venture out toward a different destiny (which is not so uncommon, as accounting firms bringing in more than $75 million annually typically have a 17-20% turnover rate), the CMA can serve as your yellow brick road.
The CMA opens doors into the business world and leaves you perfectly equipped to walk in and crush it. This business-savvy accounting certification lets you keep one foot in the finance side of the company while functioning as an important part of the management team.
From there, the CMA empowers you to move up to even bigger and better positions. But I really don’t want to oversell it. The CMA just helps you become like, the CEO, CFO, vice president of finance, or controller. No biggie.
So, if your goal is to advance your career and make more money, and whose isn’t, then the CMA can certainly assist you in getting there. Just ask Hallie D’Agostino, CMA, CPA. She used Gleim CMA Review to pass the CMA exam and enhance her career as an auditor for a top accounting firm.