The Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) is one of three specialty certifications that are being phased out by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)—and several government auditors who hold the CGAP aren’t very happy about it. “I’m disappointed but not surprised by the IIA’s short-sighted decision to phase out new applications to the CGAP,” Chris […]
Caleb recently published a post posing the question, "What’s the Future of the CPA Brand?"
This question was prompted by some AICPA research showing that while the CPA brand still has a lot value, there’s a growing threat from non-CPA professionals who are providing specialized services outside the core services — tax, accounting, and audit — typically provided by CPAs.
I feel like we have addressed this before, or rather, we've incessantly ripped on the CGMA from the beginning. In the interest of fairness, we should present the other side before we do that again. But first, the question: .@going_concern Can we have an honest conversation about how pointless it is to obtain a #CGMA? […]
Welcome to the squelch-the-tryptophan-withdrawals-with-cyber-Monday edition of Accounting Career Conundrums. In today’s edition, a Big 4 manager is pret-tay sure he is underpaid. How can he broach the subject with a partner without causing major blowback?
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Back to our short-changed manager:
I was wondering if you could provide advice in how to determine if I am being underpaid and if I am how to go about asking for an increase? I am a 1st year Manager for a Big 4 firm in Kansas City. I have been with the same firm/office my entire career sans a 2 year secondment I completed in Dublin just in August. In addition, to having my CPA license I also hold the CFE certification and the CFA charter.
My feelings for asking for a raise are based on the additional certifications and knowing that my salary as a 1st year Manager is less than what 3rd year Sr. Associates were making in my office 2 plus years ago. I know the economy has changed during the subsequent 2 years but still feel like I am not fairly compensated. What advice do you propose? I am nervous about sharing my thoughts with my Partner as I am afraid of a potential backlash. Thanks in advance.
Dear Alphabet Soup,
Think you’re underpaid, huh? Seems to be theme around here. However, your situation is more unique than most so we’ll make a run at this.
First thing we noticed about your situation is that you’re a M1 which means you were recently promoted, which also mean you should have just received a better-than average raise. And we’re more than a little skeptical about your assertion that a SA3 is making more than you. That would have to mean that SAs are getting insanely good raises while you – the newly promoted manager – got an abysmal one; it seems unlikely. If this in fact the case, then you’ve had a serious string of bad luck.
As for determining whether or not you are underpaid, we suggest you speak to a professional recruiter in KC to find out whether or not your credentials and international experience or currently undervalued. If the recruiter takes a look at your résumé and starts drooling, you’ll know that he/she can earn a fat commission placing you somewhere else. If they shrug and say, “Look friend, you’re doing pretty well. But let me tell you about this great opportunity…” then your salary is probably fair.
When it comes to talking to a partner about this, be sure you’re speaking to someone you trust and just be honest. Make your case with facts. Don’t go speculating about what a SA3 is making because that turns the conversation to something that is out of your control. Highlight your credentials, international experience and why they bring value to the firm and your partner.
They’ve heard the “I’m underpaid” sob story a million times. You’ve got to prove to them that your case is an exception to the run-of-the-mill bellyaching.
Need help deciding what you want to be when you grow up? Check out the rest of our posts on credentials for accountants.
The CVA isn’t like other certifications in that if you’re going for one, you’re probably trying to add to your arsenal of professional credentials and have a few days to spare for the intensive training.
What’s it take?
This is directly from the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (NACVA):
The Business Valuation Certification and Training Center’s compact five-day intermediate level curriculum is comprehensive and substantive, providing value from beginning to end. A good understanding of accounting, taxes, economics, finance, and a basic understanding of business valuation fundamentals are prerequisites. The BVTC’s primary goal is to provide you with information that will serve as a solid foundation for your professional valuation endeavors, whether or not you plan to pursue a designation.
The five-hour CVA exam is administered in a rotating yearly schedule in 13 U.S. cities (twice yearly in Chicago) following the five-day training.
The NACVA is a NASBA-recognized CPE provider, meaning the training and certification can satisfy CPE requirements for CPAs. State boards have the final say on what counts for CPE purposes so check with yours if you are interested in completing this program to satisfy CPE requirements. The NACVA has trained 15,000 CVAs since its inception in 1990 and its members are subject to the same sort of ethical standards as CPAs.
The entire program – not counting the exams and any study materials – runs about $3,555 (by comparison, the CPA exam costs around $1000 – $1500 just to sit, excluding CPA review fees or retakes) and the exam itself is $595.
Who would want a CVA?
Tax professionals, for one, but also M&A consultants, investment professionals, financial analysts, financial officers and of course accountants interested in valuation and providing this service to their clients.
Why would you want a CVA?
Businesses need to be valued for all sorts of reasons. Mergers and acquisitions make up a large part of this but the CVA also comes in handy for estate taxes, employee stock ownership plans, divorce, and partner break-ups. This makes it an always-in-demand credential in a constantly-evolving marketplace.
Salary is impacted according to one’s position or other credentials. For example, a CFO with a CVA can expect to make a median salary of $125,000 according to PayScale. On the other side of the spectrum, a senior tax accountant with a CVA weighs in at an average of $60,000. But we knew tax was a thankless gig to begin with, didn’t we?
Since CVAs can also unravel bankruptcies and liquidations, the career options may be just about endless moving forward. Better start saving your pennies for that 5-day excursion.
Last week we kicked off our certification series by looking at the CFE for those of you interested in becoming numbers sleuths that also have the figurative iron-clad stones that Sam Antar insists are imperative for any CFE.
This week we look at the Certified Management Accountant (“CMA”) credential and while it’s probably not as sexy as the CFE, a lot of you may want to consider the CMA if you see yourself spending a good portion of your career working as an in-house accountant or finance pro.
The credential is administered by the Institute of Management Accountants whose website states that “85% owork inside organizations, where expertise in decision support, planning, and control over value-adding operations are crucial elements of operational success,” and boasts 60,000 members worldwide.
Here’s the rundown on the CMA:
You can meet the education requirement by verifying that you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or that you have a professional qualification, such as a CPA (here’s a partial list of global certifications that qualify).
The professional requirement for the CMA is two continuous years of experience in management accounting or financial management. This can be completed prior to the application or within two years of passing the CMA exam. The website states that, “Qualifying experience consists of positions requiring judgments regularly made employing the principles of management accounting and financial management.”
There is a long list of experience that will satisfy this requirement including financial analysis, budget preparation, management information system analysis, financial management, management accounting, auditing in government, finance or industry, management consulting, auditing in public accounting, research, teaching or consulting related to management accounting or financial management.
The CMA Exam is currently transitioning from a four-part format to a two-part format. The two-part format rolls out on May 1st but testing of the four-part format will be available through December 31, 2010. The new format will focus on financial planning, analysis, control, and decision support. The two four hour exams consist of 100 multiple choice questions and two 30 minute essay questions.
Part 1 breaks down like this:
Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting (30%)
Performance Management (25%)
Cost Management (25%)
Internal Controls (15%)
Professional Ethics (5%)
And Part 2:
Financial Statement Analysis (25%)
Corporate Finance (25%)
Decision Analysis and Risk Management (25%)
Investment Decisions (20%)
Professional Ethics (5%)
There’s a lot of information on the new exam format including fees, testing windows, and more that can be seen here.
After certification, you are required to complete 30 hours of CPE annually, of which, 2 hours are required to be in ethics.
Many CMAs work in budgeting, financial planning, cost accounting, performance evaluation, asset management and other various capacities. The work often times result in internal reports that will help management make prudent decisions rather than just taking wild stabs at running their respective companies. So it goes without saying that this is important stuff.
For those of you still working in the public realm, you can get benefits out of a CMA too. Our favorite Exuberant Accountant, Scott Heintzelman, has a CMA and he told us that it helps him better understand the needs of his manufacturing clients, “I had a bunch of clients in the manufacturing space and many of the controllers were CMA’s. I thought taking the time to get this certification would give me more creditability with this group…it helped me gain more manufacturing clients as they saw me as one of them, not just a CPA.”
Compensation and Other Benefits
According to the IMA’s most recent survey, CMAs earn 24-31% more than their non-certified colleagues. Those surveyed that have both a CMA and a CPA have even higher salaries. Now, we know what that you’re hung up on money but there are some other advantages too.
According to Scott, “Partners then had this belief [then] that the CMA was a brutal test (and it was). So a year later I started the process and actually was fortunate to pass the entire test on the first attempt. I had also passed the CPA exam on the first attempt a year earlier and so my partners suddenly thought I was some super smart young accountant and many believed I was ‘fast tracked’ to partner. I believe I just worked my butt off to learn that stuff, but none the less several of my partners looked at me differently. A very key moment in my young career.”