After graduating from St. John’s University with my bachelor’s degree in accounting and master’s degree in taxation, I became a Certified Public Accountant and started working for a Big 4 accounting firm. It was at that point that I realized I needed something in addition to my CPA. I wanted an extra tool set that I could develop to help expand my horizons of accounting. That’s when I decided to join IMA® and sit for the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) exam. I had heard about the CMA after noticing a number of professionals bearing the credential.

After many nights of studying through the wee hours, I passed the CMA exam in December 2014. This is one of the greatest accomplishments that has helped me stand out from the crowd because I gained additional insight to provide value to my clients on many different levels. For example, the CMA taught me how to master management reports from accounting software. I now explain the significance of understanding ratios such as the current ratio or debt-to-equity ratio to my business clients. After earning my CMA, I became the founding partner of a CPA firm. I realized the CMA would allow me to view clients’ issues, such as inventory reporting, from a management point of view while ensuring issues are in compliance with the respective authority, such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Today, in an institutional setting like college, many students are taught primarily to view accounting from an auditor’s or external viewpoint only. That viewpoint is necessary when you are expressing an opinion on a financial statement or an audit. But the ability to understand a client’s issue from a management point of view is priceless. For example, in addition to the vital functions of the balance sheet and the income statement, those statements can provide extremely useful resources such as budgets, forecasts, and projections that can help a company grow faster than its competition. A company can thrive by easily locating red flags and bottlenecks way before they become serious issues. These exact skills are taught on the CMA exam and are in high demand in today’s economy.

The CMA, like a new company standing out from the crowd by having our favorite beverage waiting for us at the click of a button, gives accountants and financial professionals a similar opportunity. I strongly encourage all IMA members and others to stand out from the crowd and take the CMA exam and earn their certification. My experience has been magnificent, and I promise it will help you adapt to the changing business environment, and the potential for advancement will be more likely.

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