Certified Management Accountant

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Certified Management Accountant


Certified management accountants, commonly abbreviated as CMAs, are financial management professionals who combine accounting knowledge and professional management skills to provide employers with a variety of leadership and decision-making services. As a member of the management team, they apply learned management practices to monitor, interpret and communicate financial results, help management evaluate corporate performance and make decisions about product design and development. A CMA has a strong business background focusing on strategic management and resource deployment in order to synthesize total business solutions and identify new market opportunities for a company.

Unlike other accounting designations, such as CA and CGA, CMAs seek to provide solutions to improving a company's profitability and maximizing shareholder value, instead of focusing on traditional financial reporting and taxation. Nowadays, many CMAs do very little accounting work and more supervising, advising and coordinating. Their training allows them the freedom and ability to take upon a wide variety of roles and to move around different areas of business including sales and marketing, information technology and human resources.

CMAs offer their financial consulting advice to a company's management team and give presentations or write reports on such research. Their understanding of both the American economy and foreign markets is quite complex and can help businesses start up exporting ventures.

Traditionally, accountants were responsible for completing mounds of tedious paperwork, especially during peak seasons. However due to the explosion of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) into the market, the conventional role has changed allowing the accountant to spend more time on analyzing financial statements instead of dealing with red tape thereby broadening the services accountants offer.
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  Interests and Skills  
Certified Management Accountants love to work with numbers and money. They are logical people with clear and concise thinking capacities, enjoy working both alone and in a team environment, and like solving challenging financial and mathematical problems in innovative ways. In order to be successful, a CMA must be able to communicate ideas and research to the management officials in a company. CMAs must have high ethical standards and be able to apply their knowledge and skills towards each project they take upon.

Accordingly, CMAs should be interested in computers and programming, constantly working on updating their skills to meet the rapidly changing programs. Most CMAs enjoy having clear, organized methods in their daily work routines and are generally analytical and practical people. Finally, some CMAs enjoy teaching and directing the activities of others.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Report finances of establishment to management and advise management about resource utilization, tax strategies and assumptions underlying budget forecasts
  • Predict revenues and expenditures and submit reports to management
  • Develop, maintain and analyze budgets and prepare periodic reports comparing budgeted costs to actual costs.
  • Ensure financial recording accuracy and compliance with established accounting standards, procedures and internal controls
  • Examine accounting records and prepare financial statements and reports
  • Develop and maintain cost finding, reporting and internal control procedures
  • Analyze financial statements and reports and provide strategic analysis and decision making advice
  • May supervise articling students or another accountant
  • Unlike other accounting designations, such as the CA or CGA, that emphasize financial reporting, taxation, auditing and post-production verification work, the CMA creates from scratch and provides strategic decision making, business management and leadership advice. Certified management accountants generally work in comfortable office settings. Hours of work are constantly changing depending on the organization, level of responsibility and time of the month. Longer hours may be required during company budgeting time, month-end deadlines and the early spring tax season with year-end corporate work. Accountants working in the public service or consulting firms are required to do a bit of traveling to client's offices. Otherwise, an average day will involve office desk work, computer work and interpersonal work dealing with a management team.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) are usually employed in both the public and private sectors including businesses, government services, management consulting practices, corporate and personal tax preparation offices, banks, credit offices, public accounting offices, and educational institutions. A CMA is part of the management team in an organization, focusing on business strategy and strategic decision making.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Becoming a Certified Management Accountant is an excellent stepping stone for careers in government, business, public practice and academia. Numerous top business professionals and leaders are CMAs that have moved on to become corporate controllers, chief financial officers and vice presidents of finance. Experienced CMAs may advance to senior management positions within their companies, open their own consulting and accounting firms and some may decide to impart their own knowledge and experience and teach at the post-secondary level. Due to their broad business background and education, a CMAs chances of success are high regardless of the industry they work in.

  Educational Paths  
Certified management accountants (CMAs) require a university degree in a business related field. The next step is passing the National Entrance Examination which tests relevant business topics and emphasizes management accounting as an interdisciplinary profession that requires its practitioners to consider the diverse aspects of business challenges in formulating strategies to meet these challenges.

Candidates are then required to work a minimum of 24 months gaining practical experience. This experience requirement is split into two parts: operational and managerial. Finally, to achieve the highly-respected CMA designation, prospective CMAs must progress through the two year Strategic Leadership Program concurrent with their full-time employment. The Strategic Leadership component of the CMA accreditation process is unique in the industry, setting the CMA apart from other business professionals. The program is designed to meet the rapid changes in business and to address the needs of prospective CMAs who may be working in a broad range of sectors outside traditional accounting and finance.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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