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 […]
Three years ago, Anne Bronchetti, CMA, had an accounting intern from a local university who had never heard of the Certified Management Accountant designation until she told him about it. “He knew he wanted to pursue a career in accounting but wasn’t at all sure what path to follow or where he should focus,” said […]
Joel Konts was told over and over again during college that if he didn’t sit for the CPA exam and work for a public accounting firm after he graduated, he wouldn’t have the best of luck making a career in accounting. “I also knew that if I didn’t go for my master’s degree right after […]
Well, this is a pleasant surprise. The guy with the handlebar mustache really sells it, doesn't he? I laugh harder each time I watch it. The ad is going to run during late night programming like SNL, Fallon, Colbert, etc. Let's hope that it results in for a rash of CMA tattoos on hipster accountants. […]
Ever since the CGMA hit the scene, we've all been subjected to the campaign blitz by the AICPA and CIMA to convince everyone that the CGMA is the fairest management accounting credential in all the land. It was cute in those early days because you could mail in a form, pay a fee and get […]
The Institute of Management Accountants salary survey came out yesterday, and you should check it out if you're into that sort of thing. Quickly while we're on the topic of salary, consider this your friendly reminder that the Going Concern Compensation Survey is still open and it would be great if you can take a […]
Safe travels to all of our attendees today! #IMASLC13 #Charlotte pic.twitter.com/RjKkAkEARF — IMA (@IMA_News) November 14, 2013
It's the week before Labor Day so that means everyone checked out yesterday around 8:30 am. This seems like the perfect excuse to dish out some lightning round advice, so I dug through the mailbag to see what's what in the lives of the GC readership. If you have a career question, hit us up […]
Oh look, the AICPA put out a press release that says the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation is the "most prominent management accounting credential in the U.S. with 37,864 CFOs, controllers and other finance professionals holding the designation." Plus, it's managed to its way into some of the most prestigious companies in America! U.S. CGMA […]
UGA's Center for Continuing Education is proud to offer "an instructor-led course to prepare interested professionals" for everyone's second-favorite accounting credential on the Gwinnett campus: “Introducing this program is part of our initiative to provide professionals with pertinent, cutting-edge knowledge that is directly applicable to establishing and maintaining a successful career,” said Denise Logan, department head for […]
Did you all remember that the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation was kicking off today? No? Shame. For those of you that crave letters behind your name like stoners crave Cool Ranch Doritos, this is EXCITING NEWS, especially if you already have your CPA. Why's that you ask? Because, says the rival Institute of Management […]
And it's probably just a matter of time before they start winning all the Elijah Watt Sells awards. Here's the ICMA with the spectacular news: Of the approximately 4,200 individuals who took the two-part CMA exam during the September/October 2011 testing period, medals were awarded to the following individuals for their exceptional performance: Wen […]
This survey was done by the Institute of Management Accountants, so of course the AICPA would encourage you to wait for the CGMA to get a dual certification but if you just can’t wait, then the CMA should work fine.
IMA’s Annual Salary Survey explores salary trends of accounting and finance professionals and reveals that certain industries are faring better than others. Public accounting ranked first in terms of average salary, at $125,488, and second in average total compensation, at $153,395, both in 2010 and 2009. The survey was mailed to respondents last December, and the results have just been released this month.
“The CMAs in this year’s study make a little more than the CPAs,” said Dennis Whitney, senior vice president of certification at the Institute of Certified Management Accountants. “For the younger professionals, it’s a little more per year. The number does seem to go up as you get older, but generally it’s a couple of thousand dollars. But the thing that’s the most dramatic is that people with both the CPA and the CMA fare the best.”
For those with both certifications, the difference can be not only $27,000, but $35,700.
“Dual certification is definitely worthwhile,” said Whitney. “It broadens your competencies. You have not only the financial accounting and auditing skills, but also the financial planning, analysis, and control skills and decision-making, which are very important today.”
Welcome to the cancel-your-holiday-in-Libya edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, another Fall 2011 Big 4 associate would like to nail down a certification in addition to the CPA before starting work. Can I keep my head from exploding long enough to formulate a coherent response?
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Back to our overachiever du jour:
I am about to pass the CPA exam and have 8 months until I begin at one of the “Big Four” firms in Florida. I am excited to start at the firm as it was my first choice however, I am not certain I will be in public accounting for the long run (like most people). My question is, being uncertain about my career path, what other certification should I obtain before I start in 8 months?
I have considered the CISA, CFE, CMA, CFA, Six Sigma but, I am not sure as I am not certain of my long term path. I want something that will give me an edge if I leave the firm and/or switch careers.
What certification would you recommend?
Any suggestions are helpful.
Dear Overachiever Du Jour,
After murdering the remainder of Stranahan’s in the house, I’m better prepared to answer your query.
I appreciate your ambition and we definitely think that obtaining additional certifications is a good idea for those that move on from public accounting but I fail to see how this benefits you now before you have an inkling of what kind of career you want. HOWEVER, I’m here to help sort you out as best I can, so I’ve put aside my judgments for two.
Based on your “considerations” listed, you seem to have a case of accounting certification ADHD which is fine but there’s no clear pattern as to what your interests are. I’m not going to recommend you do something just because it may be a hot area (forensics) or in-demand (information systems) but I am going to recommend you rank these certifications based on your level interest. Want to eventually be a CFO? Then go for the CMA. Want to pile up the financial reporting bodies? Get the CFE. You get the point. The important thing is to pursue a certification you find interesting rather than one that will just puts a few letters behind your name that may (but probably not) impress someone.
But really, do you want to spend the summer prior to starting work studying for a test? Get the band back together, take a trip, something.
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
In my experience, the most important thing you need to consider when looking for a job in the U.S. as a foreigner is how to work here legally. International students looking for part-time work are allowed to work no more than 20 hours a week to maintain F-1 visa. After graduation, to stay in the United States, one must find an employer willing to sponsor your working visa (called an H-1B visa).
I came to the U.S. last August from China, and am enrolled in a master of accounting program at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Like other international students in a completely new place, I initially felt hopeless as to where to start my job search. I began searching recruiting websites, but found that these websites aren’t as helpful for students without experience.
Another method I tried was to take advantage of all the resources my school offered, including a career center. These often offer more entry-level opportunities. You can often find networking opportunities through career centers as well.
I was honored to act as the president of the student chapter of IMA® at my university in my first semester and actively took part in the events held by the local professional chapter every month. During this time, I not only got to know some professionals but also got an understanding about business culture in the U.S. – a great help in my job hunting.
In my second semester, I secured my first unpaid internship with a nonprofit organization located in Washington, DC. At the same time, I volunteered to help prepare tax returns. These experiences helped build up my résumé and enhanced my communication skills. Likewise, for those international students who do not have any working experience, it might be a good start to focus on volunteer opportunities and unpaid internships. Nonprofit and international institutions are more willing to sponsor foreign students since they know the process quite well. For those who work in companies that are hesitant to sponsor your working visa, try talking with your supervisor or the HR department to explain that the visa sponsorship process is simple.
This past summer, through on-campus recruiting, I was offered a challenging internship with a government contractor. After spending the summer there, I gained a deeper understanding of accounting issues on daily basis and had more responsibilities.
In addition to adding professional experience to my résumé, I was also looking to strengthen my academic background and social skills, which included passing the CMA® exam and becoming more involved with IMA. I will also attend the 11th annual IMA Student Leadership Conference in California this November. Currently, I am working as an intern at a financial institution which has relationships with banks in China. In addition to assuming some financial and accounting responsibilities, I will also be involved in projects aimed at the Chinese market.
Thanks to my former experience, I got used to my new position quickly and was able to perform my work with minimal supervision. The company even expressed their willingness to sponsor me for the H-1B when I graduate. This shows how it is very useful to rely on your educational and professional background and seek out job opportunities with links to your home country.
Many of you soldiering in public accounting have aspirations of one day achieving the pinnacle of many a numbers junkie’s career – Chief Financial Officer. You may think that becoming a CFO will mean hobnobbing with other C-suiters, first-class flights and access to exclusive swing joints but in all likelihood, it will consist of long hours, political maneuvering and maybe burning a few bridges.
While there are many paths to ascending to such a heralded position, one has to wonder if the skill set obtained in public accounting will really prepare you for all the demands and headaches that will inevitably come with a CFO position.
Because so many accounting grads get their start in public accounting, one of obtaining the CPA credential. There’s no question that obtaining your CPA is a must for anyone that intends on spending a significant portion of their career in public accounting and little debate about the advantage of having those three letters on your résumé when you start looking outside public.
Tthe timing of that move may determine what kind of path you have ahead of you in order to land that coveted CFO gig. If you manage to stick out life in public until partner or in some cases the director or senior manager level the path is more clear. You may jump right into it immediately or you assume a position that reports to the current CFO and be groomed to assume the big chair at the appropriate time.
But what if you’re just starting your career and you’re fed up with public already? Or what if you’ve gotten laid off and you took a job in private. Are your dreams crushed at this point? What’s a wannabe CFO to do?
Speaking with John Kogan, CEO of Proformative, an online resource for finance, accounting and treasury professionals, obtaining the Certified Management Accountant credential is something that often gets overlooked.
“It’s the Rodney Dangerfield of finance certifications,” John told GC, “it doesn’t get enough respect.” The argument for today’s CFOs to have a CPA are being made and statistics have shown that more and more CFOs are, in fact, CPAs. The most recent data we can find shows that in 2009, 45% of Fortune 1000 CFOs were CPAs, up from 29% in 2003.
However, the viewpoint of “Warren Miller” in the comments of Francine McKenna’s guest post at FEI Blog on the subject, is that accountants usually make terrible CFOs:
[A]ccountants tend to make lousy CFOs because (a) they see everything as an accounting problem, (b) their ignorance of finance AND of human nature (where incentives are concerned) can be breathtaking, (c) they look backwards, and (d) they are conflict-avoiders. If accountants wanted to deal with the ambiguity of the future, they’d have never become bean-counters.
In addition, most accountants LOVE “rules.” They avoid conflict by hiding behind rules. They are go-along/get-along people. I’m fond of saying this: “If accountants had been running our country in 1776, we’d still be working for the King.”
So if the gamut of accountants are ignorant about finance matters, does the CMA provide a bridge to closing that knowledge gap? John Kogan thinks so, “The CMA designation wants to be the ‘CPA’ for finance professionals,” he said, “but it’s so far from being that.”
When you look at the two sections of the CMA exam on the Institute of Management Accountant’s website, you certainly get the impression that the CMA could be the “CPA for finance professionals” based on the curriculum:
PART I – Financial Planning, Performance and Control
• Planning, budgeting, and forecasting
• Performance management
• Cost management
• Internal controls
• Professional ethics
PART II – Financial Decision Making
• Financial statement analysis
• Corporate finance
• Decision analysis and risk management
• Investment decisions
• Professional ethics
So why isn’t the CMA a more coveted credential? John Kogan claims it’s due to poor marketing on the IMA’s part, “The CMA [credential] has similar requirements, not identical but similar, and they don’t enjoy the reputation of the CPA,” John said. “The CMA is getting its butt kicked because it doesn’t market itself well.”
You can easily make the argument that the AICPA has the distinct advantage of partnering with the Big 4 – firms that’s primary purpose is to serve as CPAs – on marketing and promotional efforts while the IMA has no apparent equivalent.
That being said, our recent conversation with IMA Chair Sandra Richtermeyer shed some light on the careers that are available for accountants moving into a financial role that the CMA designation complements well. She was of the notion that the CMA is simply not about cost accounting and John Kogan agrees, “I think anyone who knows anything about [the CMA] knows that the [designation] is broader than that, it’s just that very few people know what the heck it’s about,” he said. “Without a doubt, the skills that the IMA are teaching and certifying are corporate finance skills.”
If you consider yourself to be on the path to CFO Rockstar, maybe you have the CPA locked up but what’s next? Having the CPA credential may make you an attractive candidate on paper but it’s won’t guarantee success with the wide range of knowledge that CFOs need. So, while it may not hold a candle to the CPA in terms of prestige, the skills and knowledge that fall under the CMA are essential for any successful CFO.
The short answer is no. The medium answer is hell no and the long answer is the rest of this post but first, let’s address the reader question, shall we?
Will any of the sections passed for the CMA and/or CFM count against the requirements for the CPA examination? In other words, can I avoid taking certain sections of the CPA examination because I have passed the CMA and CFM?
ALL candidates have to pass all four parts of the exam and for the lucky ones, there’s even a fifth part to worry about called ethics but that’s not all of you so we won’t get into that. There is no credit given for life experience, other letters after your name, certifications, and/or letters from your Mom attesting to your good moral character. You don’t get extra credit for making your written communications 15 paragraphs long, nor do you get a bonus for having the prettiest scribbles on your scratch paper. Nothing. Sorry kid but them’s the breaks.
CMAs are not automatically eligible to sit for the CPA exam simply because they are CMAs however required coursework for both credentials are similar so if you are eligible to pursue one, you may be eligible to pursue the other without additional education. This career track is best accomplished by getting an MBA or Masters in accounting, not completing your Bachelor’s and simply picking up a few extra units to fulfill the CPA’s 150 hour requirement.
If you are into it, check out some recent IMA numbers on salary potential for CMAs and CPAs. So while you won’t be able to get out of any of the usual CPA exam gruntwork, it still might be worth it to pursue anyway. And bonus, you might just be able to count your CPE units twice for both designations.
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.”