February 27, 2020 at 7:48 pm #2948646John CPAParticipantFebruary 28, 2020 at 7:54 am #2948991AnthonyParticipant
Because CPA is simply more recognized as the gold standard in accounting. CMA is a certification and CPA is a license.February 28, 2020 at 9:00 am #2949006February 29, 2020 at 5:04 pm #2950151NoNameParticipant
I agree with Vbmer. The only exception would be for someone who lacks the prerequisites to get a CPA (eg non accounting majors), foreign educated folks, etc. In that case I would go for the CMA first.
I have gone through the full CMA process at this point. In fact, I found the CMA exams more challenging in some aspects compared to the CPA exams.
I'm still waiting on my score for part 2 (hopefully it is a pass)
Overall, I have enjoyed my CMA studies. I understand much more about finance topics than previously.
There is no surprise here but it is very geared toward the skills you would need performing accounting/finance in a corporation (and much less of the stuff needed for public accounting). It would be major value added for someone who is a Director of Finance but much less so for someone who is a Controller.
Imagine BEC expanded ten fold and that will give you an idea of of the CMA blueprint topic materials.
FAR type topics of covered minimally and at a much less detailed level. AUD and REG (tax topics) topics are basically non existent during your studies.March 1, 2020 at 1:06 am #2950520March 1, 2020 at 5:35 pm #2951048NoNameParticipant
@ Biff When I would read the list of authors/contributors in the CPA exam prep books you would occasionally com across people like that. It was always fascinating (or comical) to see so many letters.March 1, 2020 at 6:34 pm #2951072Biff TannenParticipant
@cpaguy I’ve seen a few of those people too. all jokes aside, I wonder if it paid off for them in the long run. I can’t foresee how one can be great at so many different trades.March 2, 2020 at 8:03 pm #295223912tangParticipant
@cpaguy, curious on your thoughts for why the CMA isn't as good for a controller? What if the controller is the the CFO as well?
I'm sure having multiple certifications has a diminished return for paying off but nonetheless, you're increasing your knowledge of business topics. I relate it to reading different books on the same topic. You capture different perspectives, different ways of thinking and different solutions to the same problems. Of course, I don't have multiple certifications/licenses, so there's that, lol. But if one has the time and money to spend, then why not?March 4, 2020 at 3:46 pm #2954309thunderlipsParticipant
i say both but start with cpa first. it holds more value cma i find as a complement to cpaMarch 5, 2020 at 9:00 pm #2955431MercenaryParticipant
I passed my CPA exams last year and took part on of the CMA exam the end of last month.
I'd definitely recommend CPA first and then CMA second. And yes, as others have said CMA exam is like super BEC. I felt it was more challenging than the BEC exam. There were a few FAR/AUD topics but it was mostly things you'd see on BEC but then more in depth and more similar topics. Lots of IT/Data Analysis stuff.
I think it depends what you want to do. In my case I took a long break from accounting and so I felt I needed every bit of help I could to break back into the field. The CPA helped more with that but I think the CMA will give me a bit of an edge when I want to go into industry later.March 14, 2020 at 8:37 pm #2962028TParticipant
I took the CMA exams back in 2017 before tackling the CPA exams in 2019/2020. The four exams vs two definitely makes the CPA exams feel like a marathon, but I think the content of the CMA exams can be very difficult for many because typical accounting curriculum in most US universities do not emphasis cost accounting the way they do GAAP and standard financial accounting. For this reason I found the material to be more challenging, as I was not that familiar with many of the topics, such as flexible budgets and transfer pricing. The benefit of this (and why I would HIGHLY recommend the CMA exam to any motivated accounting/finance professional working in industry or consulting roles) is that by studying for the CMA you learn highly applicable concepts and skills that many traditional accountants do not possess. In my opinion, to say BEC is a slightly slimmed down version of the CMA exam is an understatement as the depth of the testing is far greater on the CMA exam.
All that being said, the CPA is not to be taken lightly. FAR tests on a wide range of topics that even those working in public accounting are likely to not have encountered. Tax is a technical field that does not always follow the logic that GAAP follows which makes REG challenging. Auditing is fairly conceptually, but without real life experience to apply these concepts to, I can see how the exam would be extremely challenging. I am confident that if I did work in tax and auditing while studying for REG and AUD, I would not have done as well as I ended up doing no matter how much more I studied. For this reason I don't necessarily agree with studying for these tests before gaining hands on experience, but different things work for different people.
Another item to keep in mind when looking at pass/fail rates is that many more people who take the CMA than CPA exam do not have English as their first language. We all know how are difficult these tests are. Now imagine trying to decipher the multiple choice questions in a language that is not your first…I can't even speak a second language, yet alone take an exam in one, so I suspect language alone drags down the pass/fail rate for the CMA being as the CPA is taken by mostly US based applicants.
Anyways this has become a long post, but in summary: I would not underestimate the CMA exam as it tests concepts that your average CPA applicant is likely to not have much exposure to. I went to work in private industry out of school and then switched to public accounting after 7 years to get licensed after having the CMA. After working hard to pass both exams, I respect those who pursue either one or both credentials!