A Certified Management Accountant is worth it

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The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) degree has a long history: it has been around for over 40 years. The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) has offered degrees in the United States since 1972, but the degree was little known in Europe for a long time. Only at the end of the nineties did the reputation of the certificate spill over the Atlantic to Europe. In the past few years, the CMA has enjoyed steadily increasing demand.

The number of certified CMA graduates has more than doubled in the past five years in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but in Germany there are currently only 94 CMA-certified managers, 227 according to the IMA in the entire DACH- Region. Some graduates have had a steep career in finance: Thorsten Pruin, former CFO of Braas Monier (then MonierRoofing Components) and current finance director at the logistics company GLS, as well as Beat Neukom, CFO of the Merz Group in Frankfurt, have a CMA.

CMA: Degree for international finance professionals

Neukom received his CMA degree in 2005 while still working in the finance department of the US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. Today's Merz CFO sees the CMA as an interface between controlling and accounting that provides useful knowledge for finance professionals. One of the reasons why his American superiors at the time recommended him to do the CMA.

Worldwide, 43,000 finance professionals have so far taken the exam - in other regions the CMA is far more widespread than in German-speaking countries. Neukom also sees one of the weaknesses of the CMA: "Unfortunately, the degree is not yet well known in Europe and often has to be explained." Often the CMA would be confused with the similar, but British, CIMA.

Candidates can, however, also prove their language know-how with a completed CMA exam, because the exams in Europe are only taken in English. An important aspect for CFO Neukom: "With the CMA I was able to prove my international ability in financial management."

Learn the CFO trade

The CMA exam consists of two parts. The first part deals with the more fundamental issues in the financial world. This includes strategies to improve internal controls and make cost management more efficient. Part two is aimed specifically at financial decision-makers and those who want to become one. The candidates are taught how, for example, they can set up their company's finances well over the long term, how to identify and erase company risks and how to make investment decisions.

CFO Neukom says the CMA specifically helped him make quick decisions today. In the exam, too, he had to answer the questions under great time pressure. However, the time required for the exams is considerable.

Each of the two exams lasts four hours. Candidates can take these in the 37 test centers in Europe. The total cost of the exam is $ 2,000 to $ 2,500.

The Institute of Management Accountants advises exam candidates to prepare for 150 hours of study per part. This is probably one of the reasons why the failure rates are comparatively high. In Europe, just under half pass the first part of the exam. The second hurdle is easier to overcome: after all, 63 percent of the candidates take this on the first attempt.

The IMA requires prospective graduates to have at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent training. At least two years of professional experience in accounting or financial management as well as IMA membership, which costs another 235 US dollars per year, are also desired. The requirements must be met within seven years of the exam.

jakob.eich [at] finance-magazin.de

The Certified Management Accountant

Providers: Institute on Management Accountants (IMA)

Contents part 1: External accounting decisions; planning, budgeting, forecasts; Cost management; Internal controls

Contents part 2: Financial analysis; Corporate finance; Decision analysis; Risk management; Investment decisions; ethics

Expenditure:150 preparation hours per exam; four hours per exam

Requirements:
at least a bachelor's degree or an equivalent education; at least two years of professional experience in accounting or financial management; IMA membership

Cost of the program: a total of US $ 2,000 to US $ 2,500 (approximately US $ 1,880 to US $ 2,350) including study materials, annual fee of US $ 235 for IMA membership