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CPA vs CMA For Job Hunting

Eva Zar's Profile

cma vs cpaI will get my MBA in December and I want to apply for CPA certificate , I am very confused whether CMA vs CPA is better. I don't have any public accounting experience. and I am very worried about finding a job.

can someone please help me choose one?

also I am currently in Iowa but I don't want to stay here and I want to move to other states preferably california or New York, can I work with my certificates that are for the state of Iowa?

 

Answers

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

Eva - I was once told by a recruiter than a CMA is advantageous if I plan to work in a manufacturing type environment. I was told by many others that a CPA holds a lot more clout with hiring than a CMA does. CMA is an association with a certificate, whereas a CPA is an actual license given by states, a bit more prestigious in my opinion.

If you ever plan on going into public accounting, your CMA will do no good, but the CPA will. More time and money is involved in obtaining the CPA, I know because that is what I am in the process of doing. But the benefits far outweigh the cost. If you desire the CMA I would still recommend getting it, but get the CPA first. That is what I am doing.

I have also considered getting my CCIFP for construction, the industry I am in currently, but I am not sure I want to stay in construction accounting my entire career. So once I get my CPA I may pursue the CCIFP.

Best of luck, whichever you choose.

Chris Shumate

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Solid advice, Chris.

Eva, you might also be interested in Proformative's free

Career Resources Guide:

https://www.proformative.com/resources/career-resources-guide

It covers this very topic and much more.

After reading more here, you might also want to take a look at
these discussions here on Proformative.

Enjoy!

Best... Sarah

Topic Expert
J.D. Floyd
Title: Owner, CFO
Company: CFO Outsourcing Solutions, Inc.
(Owner, CFO, CFO Outsourcing Solutions, Inc.) |

Ahh...the age old question that reappears every other month on LinkedIn, along with who is better suited for a CFO position; a CPA or an MBA.

That being said, the simpliest answer is a question; what do you plan on doing with your career post-MBA? If you want to pursue Corporate Accounting, then CPA all the way. If you want to be a Cost Accountant or in Cost Accounting Management, then MAYBE the CMA.

OK, before anyone goes off in a rage of my MAYBE comment, please read my thought completely.

As in all of the "which is better" or "which one should I pursue" discussions, the simple answer gets complicated by the next point; the answer is solely up to the opinion of the hiring authority. In the end, they (right or wrong) are the final arbitrator of what is important in a hiring decision. In the "attention deficit" world we live in, where if you have to explain anything "unusual" to a recruiter, then your skills, experience and unfortunately your credentials are for not.

No matter what the IMA or anyother Association says, the CPA license is the only one that the vast majority of recruiters know...unfortunately.

Now, just to let everyone know (again before anyone goes off into a rage), that I respect anyone who spends the time and dedicates themselves to obtaining any education level or professional designation. This also applies to those you chose public accounting or a corporate path - to each their own. But in the end, we as Accountants are almost always judged by those who do not know what we do. I have never met an attorney yet who did not think they where a better accountant than me. I have als never met an HR person who understand the nature of accounting and what make a candidate qualified for any accounting position.

Just to let you know that the grass is not always greener as a CPA. I do a lot of Accounting project work and in some industries, plus the U.S. Government, I need to have a PMP designation to actually lead the projects. As a result, I am investing $4,000 to take the training course and pay me fee to get the PMP, for the sole purpose of letting some government contracting office acceptment as a leader in a field I am already a specialist in.

Long winded answer...

J.D. Floyd

Donald Doherty
Title: President/CEO
Company: Fleetwood Fixtures
(President/CEO, Fleetwood Fixtures) |

Eva - The short answer is that becoming a CPA (which you won;t be able to do without public accounting experience) is a career choice while the CMA is a certification choice. Look at it this way. All CPA's can become CMA's without changing careers. The reverse is not true, unless the CMA has already met the public accounting experience requirement for his/her state.

I am a CPA. I worked in public accounting first, became a CPA and then left public (my choice) to work in industry. Since then, my CPA training has helped me in many of my positions (Controller, VP Finance, CFO, CEO). However, if I have a staff memeber who is not a CPA, I always recommend, sometimes require, that they become a CMA. It is most useful for those in the trenches.

CPA trumps CMA in the hiring process everywhere I've been.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

Donald - Public accounting experience is not needed to become a CPA, at least it is not in my home state of Tennessee. Sure it is probably helpful given the multitude of topics covered. But not required by all states.

Eva - Check your state's licensing requirements to be sure because they are the issuer of the licenses. Donald has excellent points. This is the main reason I did not try to pursue the CMA or even the CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner).

Esteban Serrano
Title: Managing Partner
Company: CLASECUADOR
LinkedIn Profile
(Managing Partner, CLASECUADOR) |

Totally agree, CPA TRUMPS CMA IN ALMOST EVERY HIRING POST.

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |

To Donald's point: very often you get 100 resumes, or maybe 1,000? How do you filter them? MBA is one, CPA is another. I have never seen CMA used as a filter (though it could be a great one depending on the role).

And...to the point of the folks above, it depends on what you want to do.

Lynne Taylor
Title: Principal
Company: Cloud Accounting Services for Enterprise..
(Principal, Cloud Accounting Services for Enterprises (CASE)) |

Eva, I feel for you . . . being worried about getting a job these days - even as a newly "minted" MBA - is all too common for college graduates. I'll share my story with you though - perhaps it will help since I found myself in exactly your shoes when I graduated with my MBA in June of 1991. The economy had tanked (that sounds familiar doesn't it?) and most of my graduating class either didn't have a job, no job offers or had to continue working in the part-time jobs they had while they were going to school.

I had been fortunate to have worked for computer hardware and software development companies so I had systems experience however, and one thing I kept seeing is how programmers and developers had NO idea about how any apps they worked on actually impacted accounting and the critical financial reporting that businesses need.

So I kind of went "backward" and went into public accounting (at a substantial pay cut!) to get my license (Chris is right, not all states require public accounting experience to become a CPA, but I was living in California and California does). It was worth it because - as others have mentioned in their posts on this topic - so many companies find the CPA valuable and it does increase your "marketability" and future earning potential.

So the CPA really does help get one's "foot in the door" for many companies, but what I've always found way more valuable and critical to business - and at no time more than now especially as so many businesses move to the "cloud" - is having IT knowledge and experience. As Keith points out, recruiters and employers may filter on the "MBA" or "CPA" designations, but more important for many of them is whether that MBA or CPA has specific experience with ERP systems and/or specific accounting applications. Beyond that they really want and need help and leadership from finance people who understand database schemas, and know how to evaluate, implement, and particularly - integrate - systems for the benefit of the entire company, not just accounting.

I guess my story is about showing you that there are many paths to achieving your education and career goals - mine was definitely not the most straightforward! If you can figure out how to add value - for both yourself and anyone who hires you however - you have a good chance of always being relevant and in demand.

Good luck!

Topic Expert
J.D. Floyd
Title: Owner, CFO
Company: CFO Outsourcing Solutions, Inc.
(Owner, CFO, CFO Outsourcing Solutions, Inc.) |

Chris,

(Before I start I will give my usual disclaimer; before anyone goes off in a rage, please read my entire thought first.)

I am aware of a few states that do not require public accounting experience for the CPA designation. However, I caution anyone who wants to take the "no-public-accounting-experience" option, because you will run afoul of the next hurdel "where did you do your public accounting work?".

In a world of short attention span recruiters, they focus on the following first; 1) your location/address, 2) is there a CPA after your name, 3) what Big 4 firm you worked at and then 4) what ever their client told them to look for.

Once upon a very long time ago, a VP of HR told a junior staffer that they would only hire CPA's because they are the only accounts. That junior staffer became a manager and they said the same thing to the next junior. Then that junior staffer became a manager and said the same thing to the next junior. See a pattern? 100-years later, HR departments are still doing the same thing because no one stopped them. Now, to make matters worse in the Key Word Search world of online resumes, lazy recruiters (believe it or not, this part was relayed to me last week Friday by a recruiter, so I am not making this up) type in the following; 1) "CPA", 2) "PWC", 3) "D&T", 4) "E&Y", 5) "KPMG" and 6) "Big4". See another pattern?

This recruiter told me clearly that she does NOT type in "CMA", "MBA", "CA", "CIA" and my personal rage "Arthur Andersen". Why? Because in her lazy search world, these are NOT relevant to what her clients want, so she does not waist her time. See another pattern?

Once again, remember my disclaimer and read the entire thought.

Now, I fully respect anyone who dedicates themselves to self improvement, so don't get upset at me for this comment, but as I always say; the ultimate arbitrator of what is important in a job search is the person doing the hiring.

So what is my advise; play the game. If a CPA and Big4 experience is all recruiters "know", then play their game.

Finally, as I mentioned about Arthur Andersen, I have repeatedly tried to explain to recruiters under the age of 30 that Arthur Andersen was the original U.S. CPA firm and at every step of the "Big {number}" CPA firms - Big15, Big12, Big10, Big8, Big6 and Big5 - Arthur Andersen was there. But somehow to the under 30 crowd, I and every alumni of Arthur Andersen are not Big4 CPA's and we will get excluded from their searches. {Yes, I have figured a way to show up in their search.}

J.D. Floyd

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

J.D. - No offense taken whatsoever to your post. I did not read anything in it that was not true. For me personally, I am going the non-public route for personal reasons, namely I do not desire to work 80 hours during tax season. Nor do the travel involved with climbing the ladder of a Big 4. The Controller at my former employer did over ten years at D&T in the Tampa office, he told me a few good stories as well as horror stories.

I have three key areas in my life that I focus on first, my work is the fourth. Some of the decisions regarding the first three will influence my fourth, but the others always take priority.

I respect your honesty and cander, no need to be apologetic. Thank you also for your wisdom you imparted to me, as well as Eva and others reading this post.

Ken Stumder
Title: Finance Director / Controller
Company: Ken Stumder, CPA
(Finance Director / Controller, Ken Stumder, CPA) |

J.D. I had a good chuckle over your post because when I was coming up Arthur Andersen was "the" BigCPA firm and now alumni are excluded from searches? Simply amazing.

Mollie Mossman
Title: CPA CMA MBA & CRE Broker
Company: Future World Corporation
(CPA CMA MBA & CRE Broker, Future World Corporation) |

Hi Eva - Great question judged by the number and passion of the responses.

Because I am a CPA, a CMA plus have an MBA and decades of work experience, I feel I bring a unique perspective to this question.

Get the CPA definitely. Then keep studying (your brain will be "in shape"), and go for the CMA, too. I did not spend a career in manufacturing (I hold a real estate brokerage license with commercial experience), but found the knowledge and broader scope of the CMA valuable in strategic planning and problem solving.

And, the CMA gives you additional competency to note during an interview - something extra with which to stand out.

Here's how I turn the CMA not being well known into an advantage: When I interview, I explain that CPAs tell you what the numbers are, but CMAs tell you what they mean. Then, I explain how those skills will help that particular company drive stategy toward success.

Lynne is right about IT skills, they can put you over the top, so even if your job initially is not IT, take on a project with IT challenges so that you can highlight those skills as well.

I left the commercial real estate industry for a while to be a CFO for an international internet services company and that has suited me well for my upcoming role as a CFO for a national real estate company.that needs to go paperless ASAP and works virtually in all states and US possessions.

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute ....and Eva, I wish you every success!

Mollie Mossman, CPA, CMA, MBA
Licensed Real Estate Broker (commercial)

Mollie Mossman
Title: CPA CMA MBA & CRE Broker
Company: Future World Corporation
(CPA CMA MBA & CRE Broker, Future World Corporation) |

Eva, I also wanted to address your question on going to another state from Iowa. I also relocated. As you can see from some of the others responses, different states have different requirments.

I recommend you do all the requirements necessary for the toughest state - usually two years in public accounting - but check the current requirements and make sure you could qualify in any state. Then you can go anywhere and most likely get reciprocity.

I started in Michigan with my CPA, and did two years in public and met all the highest requirements. While I decided to relocate to Texas, it was great to know that I could have gone anywhere, and that my employers know that when faced with a challenge,I will seek excellence, do my utmost, and not just meet minimum standards.

Do your best, be forward looking, and expect great things!

Richard Tung
Title: CFO
Company: Schnadig International Corp
(CFO, Schnadig International Corp) |

CMA (Certified Management Accountant), CIA (Certified Internal Auditor), CFA (Certified Financial Adviser/Administrator) ... are for certain work areas / job territories, CPA is a license approved by laws to review / approve financial statement for companies or individuals; of course, each state or country has different requirements on CPA qualification.

I believe the answer is clear! however, it is your decision!

Eduardo Garcia
Title: Financial Manager
Company: Dudek
(Financial Manager, Dudek) |

I agree with JD.
Even if one gets the CPA license (either the non-public route which is allowed in Calif. or via a small / regional accounting firm), you'll be at a disadvantage. From what I've seen, recruiters not only want the CPA license, but more importantly, they want the big-4 experience. Seems to me the CPA is the filter with mindless recruiters, then the next step is: who of those CPA's worked for big 4 companies. That's the winning combination. Chris, chances are that even if you get your CPA license, you may not get hired by companies run by former big-4 accountants. They will only want CPA from those big-4 firms. Sad to say, but that's been my experience despite "regular" accountants complaining about it.

Philip Rooms
Title: Board Member
Company: Smartesting
(Board Member, Smartesting) |

This is a no brainer. You should go for the CPA and spend some time in the profession (preferably Big 4) before thinking about whether you would prefer to be in industry. With a CPA, an MBA and Big 4 experience you will be far more marketable in the future.

Emmanuel Nwankwo
Title: Finance Analyst
Company: FinanceTech LLC
(Finance Analyst, FinanceTech LLC) |

Will this so called ("Big4) be able to absorb/train the whole potential CPA candidate in the country? To me any CPA firm will make a difference.

Jim Holloway
Title: CFO
Company: Contract Lumber, Inc.
(CFO, Contract Lumber, Inc.) |

I am a CPA who started in public and then went to private (my choice) and have been a CFO for over 20 years now. My experience has been that if someone obtains their CPA directly after graduation, or has a CPA and worked in public, they can be well qualified candidates. That being said, some of my most disappointing employees are those who obtained their CPA later in their career and have no public experience. At this point it seems all they have done is passed the exam but are not able to see things from a broad perspective.

My experience with CMA's is more limited, but those that obtain a CMA generally enhance their skill set for that particular function and the designation can be a valuable indication they are good at understanding management accounting.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

I have seen that it is very difficult for a CPA to understand the business as a CPA's mind is so biased with public accounting and compliance that no matter what the business needs are, the compliance factor takes over the business needs. (I , of course donot mean business goals that are compliant)..

Robert Ewalt
Title: Exam Development Manager
Company: Institute of Certified Management Accoun..
(Exam Development Manager, Institute of Certified Management Accountants) |

The certification(s) that one pursues depends on the type of work sought. CPA is excellent for public accounting, taxes, statement preparation for businesses. CMA is excellent for budgeting, costing, financial planning & analysis, decision support. Those of us in positions to hire should encourage the HR staff to filter on meaningful indicators.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

Robert:

What's always amazed me, as a former tax professional, is that a CPA license is accepted as a tax certification. There is little tax knowledge requirement for CPAs. Income tax accounting and the IRC are not GAAP compliant.

I have encountered many, many CPAs preparing income taxes who lacked the necessary tax knowledge in my more than 30 years of experience. But, John Q accepts, and the CPAs keep pushing, that they are "tax experts".

Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on whether their background and experience was while working as public accountants and whether that was more audit or tax oriented.

In my experience, most CPAs could not pass the IRS administered, enrolled agents exam. And yet, they are perceived to be "tax experts" by many. And, they aren't about to admit this weakness of perception vs reality.

Which takes me back to something a UC college professor - (who also happened to be an active CFO; a CPA; an MBA; and a JD) - told us in the late 1970s in a management accounting course:

"CPAs are now trying to raise their status to that of doctors and lawyers. They aren't and shouldn't be. They are licensed auditors and should be giving opinions on audited financial statements. Nothing more."

That didn't make sense to me then. But it sure has over years. Ask Arthur Anderson what happens when one oversteps and becomes full of themselves. :-(

Having said that, the perception of CPAs being "above all else" in finance remains. I've encountered it many, many times during my career. (I started out when it was "the Big 8") So do many other misperceptions about what the CPA license and designation represents as we can see on this thread.

But, one swims against the tide if they try to substitute something else in gaining employment. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

For that reason and, that reason alone, I say get your license while you can, and then milk it for all it's worth. It's not your problem that many recruiters and hiring managers are ill informed or biased towards a Big 4 CPA candidate.

Besides, you can always quit one gig, hang out your shingle and charge big fees for preparing people's personal income taxes...whether you know what you're doing....or not.

Brad Luke
Title: SVP
Company: Software as a service
(SVP, Software as a service) |

Choose the CPA as it is more widely regarded unless you want to become a cost accountant and work in finance & accounting in a manufacturing industry.

Katrina Geety, CPA
Title: President
Company: Geety, Blair & Araya, PA
(President, Geety, Blair & Araya, PA) |

Hi Eva, congrats on getting your MBA. I would recommend applying for your CPA as soon as possible. This an honorable designation that requires a high level of knowledge and preparation to pass the exam. It will be harder to do the further you get out of the classroom setting. When I took the 2 1/2 day exam back in 1983, the national pass rate on the first sitting was 4%. I hunkered down and studied from May until November so I would only have to take the exam once.

I also appreciate the knowledge of a CMA. My second major at the University of Wisconsin - Madison was Operations Research with a focus on manufacturing. While I never sat for the CMA, the knowledge I have on the subject matter allowed me to be successful with the Big 6 (now Big 4) and to achieve a lot over my professional career. It gave me opportunities to become very knowledgeable of technology and to achieve high level positions in the technology profession.

So, take it one step at a time. Knock out the most difficult first (because of the vast amount of knowledge that must be in your brain during the exam). If you are given the opportunity to work in one of the Big 4, take it. You will learn and experience so much. I understand that it is grueling. I did audit for 1 year, then transitioned to Management Consulting. I lasted 4 to 5 years, loved the work and would have stayed longer if it wasn't for the travel. Very few have this opportunity. And the Big firms know that many will not make it beyond this for a variety of reasons.

I wish you the best. Feel free to contact me via linked in if you ever want to talk.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

While becoming a CPA may not make you a better accountant, it removes (or at least sharply reduces) a prospective employer's concern whether you can do or manage accounting. That in itself makes it worthwhile.

Also, I've never seen a posted position that said "CMA required". That being said,
I've seen otherwise well-qualified candidates use CMA certification in lieu of a CPA.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

I do-not agree with what most of the people have mentioned that is, CPA being better than CMA or that CPA was licence oriented and there fore it was better than a certificate oriented course and so on..

Guys, I am a CMA and have been CFO of large listed companies. My perception is that these courses assist getting entry into a job rest lies with your personal ability to apply the acquired knowledge and grow. So it is always better to be away from false pride and respect each others profession.

A CMA must have in-depth financial accounting knowledge and also requires to acquire knowledge of internal dynamics of the business, industry and economics . This helps the CMA to be an all rounder and hence is known as a Management Accountant and therefore becomes the custodian of the shareholders wealth. S/he is expected to have the highest level of integrity and would need to ensure good corporate governance. It is the most important function to assist the Board/Shareholders to give genuine present and future financial and business prospects of the organisation including analytics from where metrics would give visibility of the performance of the company. The management accountant is generally expected to have the most detailed information of the organisation.

Anonymous
(Sr Accountant - Investments) |

I strongly disagree with anyone who says you should have public accounting experience first. I received my CPA in 2008 with no public accounting experience. I wanted to work in industry and all of the companies I applied for wanted me to sit and take the exam once hired. I graduated from college, started a job in industry immediately and took the exams. Many companies in industry value the CPA whether or not you have public accounting experience. Of course, each company is going to be different with their requirements but I have not personally heard any complaints in regards to this. I think it really all depends on what you want to do with your career.

Lisa Baker CPA
Title: VP, Controls Manager
Company: JP Morgan Chase & Co
(VP, Controls Manager, JP Morgan Chase & Co) |

Eva - I am a CPA and have never worked in public accounting but I have been very employable literally because of my license. I have ever had a position that I couldn't learn because of the broad body of knowledge the CPA provides. Pro your question on working in other states with your Iowa license, if you plan to work in public accounting you would need to review that state's reciprocity requirements for obtaining a license for working in that state. I am licensed in the state of Texas which is one of the states with the more stringent requirements. Since the state I was seeking a practice license in had the same requirements I only had to provide a letter from my state's licensing board of my eligibility.

I was considering taking the CMA exam to have another license ANSI would agree with others on this post in that the CPA is far more beneficial and provides more skill than the CMA which Iva's a narrower scope in my opinion.

Best of luck to you ....

Lisa Baker CPA
Title: VP, Controls Manager
Company: JP Morgan Chase & Co
(VP, Controls Manager, JP Morgan Chase & Co) |

Please forgive for the grammatical errors in my response. I used my iPhone and it appears that auto-correct changed some of my inputs.

Ken Stumder
Title: Finance Director / Controller
Company: Ken Stumder, CPA
(Finance Director / Controller, Ken Stumder, CPA) |

As a previous post alluded to, you can often substitute "CPA Required" with "BigCPA Firm Experience Required". I've never viewed the actual test as the selling point so much as the experience required. Oddly, now the experience requirement is only one year if you have an advanced degree which is counter-intuitive to me as a working professional (here in NY).

If the profession really wanted to enhance the perception of the credential I would have gone in the other direction and kept the two-year minimum experience requirement or increased it to three years.

This would have been well received by CPA firms as well since the the tenure clock on its professional staff would have been extended. So many junior staff flee as soon as they've met the requirement I can only imagine what it's like with the Masters/1 year change that was made.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

The State Boards and the AICPA need the revenue. The sooner a person becomes a CPA the sooner they can pay for the licenses and dues. At least that is my opinion on why it was shortened.

I know the testing part of it will be the death of me. I am 0 for 2, taking Regulation in November. Hopefully I will be 1 for 3 then.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

Think of it this way. To get a job, you need to 1) get in front of the decision makers and 2) persuade those decision makers that you are the right person. The right person is the one who 1) can do the job well (hard, technical skills) and 2) who they will like as part of the team (soft, people skills).

Unfortunately, the internet has made it very easy for unqualified personnel to apply for positions. We posted for a low-end Controller/Bookkeeper and got over a 1,000 resumes, most of which should never have been sent. As such, I had the administrative assistant do the initial reviews based on:

1) A quick impression of the resume (well-formatted? or confusing)

2) Location (we were not interested in paying for relocation, nor were we willing to risk someone deciding to "return home")

3) Relevant experience (some level of finance/accounting experience)

4) Education (a BA means that the candidate had a level of intelligence and motivation to get through a 4-year program; an MBA reinforces this conclusion)

5) Certifications (anyone can call themselves qualified, whereas an independent certification means that someone else also believed the candidate to be qualified)

I have been through a lot of similar exercises where you quickly reduce the pile based on whether the candidates has an MBA, CPA certification, etc. I know we've missed a lot of good candidates, but pragmatically we didn't have the time to do anything else.

So, I would recommend getting CPA certification. It will certainly help you get through the first selection step. It also may help in the second by addressing potential concerns about your knowledge, and by giving your supporters something objective to say in the discussion (e.g., "John Doe is both an MBA and a CPA...").

Unfortunately, CMAs have yet to achieve the same level of cachet. This may be unfair, but it doesn't mean that it's untrue. (A wise senior manager once opined "If you want fair, go to Iowa in August...Life is not fair, and business is not fair...") It's far better than no certification, and may work well enough in certain circumstances.

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

"Unfortunately, CMAs have yet to achieve the same level of cachet. This may be unfair, but it doesn't mean that it's untrue."

It is a bitter pill for some, Anonymous, but it is true ... at least for today.

Anonymous
(Cofounder) |

The CPA is the most overrated credential in the history of the world. Moreover, the American Institute of CPAs has a quota system that ensures a specific percentage (at least) of candidates are successful. That keeps the annuity flow of dues money going to the thugocracy in senior management at the AICPA, so that they can continue to line their pockets. BTW, I am a CPA, but quit the AICPA long ago. Its pea-brained policy positions were a major contributor to the financial collapse of 2008-2009. Its more recent advocacy, including "big GAAP/little GAAP," ensures that there will be a rerun of the meltdown. Most CPAs are solid citizens, but the creeps running AICPA shouldn't be allowed in the same room as minor children.

The CMA is no better. It used to be, but no more. Several years ago, the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), which sponsors the CMA, got a new CEO. He decided to fight the IMA's twin problems of flat-to-declining membership and high 'churn' by persuading his Board to go along with his pea-brained idea to lower the testing standards to get the CMA certificate. That formerly rigorous certificate is now a joke. In the old days before that charlatan arrived on the scene, the CMA tests were much harder--and far more relevant to the real business world--than the CPA tests. As a holder of the CMA credential long before the reduced testing testing standards ever saw the light of day, I responded to the new regime by shredding my CMA certificate and quitting the IMA. Like those who run the AICPA, those at the helm of the IMA have complete contempt for employers and for the American public.

Any financial professional who wants to get a serious designation should sit for the three tests that constitute the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) curriculum. That regimen is tougher than any MBA program in the world and has an 81% attrition rate, to boot. I should also mention that, among CPAs who enroll in the CFA program, the attrition rate is 92%. That gives the lie to the widespread belief that CPAs are also experts in financial analysis. BTW, I am an ex-Controller and former CFO who also hold the CFA designation.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

Probably not as bad as the AMA which has artificially limited the number of licensed medical practioners for years in order to ensure that the can continue to earn outlandish compensation. ;-)

I had a great prof back in 1974 who derided the CPA designation as you have because, "they have tried to elevate themselves to the same status as doctors and lawyers which is simply a stretch". The ironic thing was, he was a CFO, with an MBA and working on his JD at the time.

But, I've never forgotten his words about this as my first encounter with CPAs were big eight auditors that had the audit account for my first post college employer. They were sure to go out of their way every year to belittle all of us in a thirty person finance/accounting department as being incapable of any sense of understanding of GAAP or of the audit work they were doing. They vigorously insisted that they were the "only accountants" and that we should would be CPAs too if we wanted to consider ourselves accountants. This despite the fact that at least four of the staff had CPA licenses and were former Big eight auditors. This arrogance alone was enough to convince me not to bother trying to pass the exam and put in my audit time to get licensed because we all resented their superiority complex.

And finally, we hired a chief accountant who had the CFA from a former British colony and, like you, he insisted it was so much more than any CPA. He had similar references about the exam and the attrition rate. His HS and college work had all been geared towards the eventual He pretty much proved the point in the work he did. He was a true accounting expert. However, he lacked good people and management skills which cost him the opportunity to advance above the chief accountant position. This was something he never fully comprehended and he eventually left and bought his own company. We remain friends to this day and he has been very successful although his people skills are still quite weak.

Lucy Hilton
Title: employee
Company: Axes Builders
(employee, Axes Builders) |

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