Management And Accounting Web

Brausch, J. M. and D. Whitney. 2009. CMA: The quest for increasing value. Strategic Finance (December): 9-10, 12.

Summary by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida

Professional Exams Main Page | IMA Main Page

The purpose of this paper is to briefly describe the new CMA Exam, and to explain the ICMA board's underlying logic for the changes. According to Brausch and Whitney, the CMA Exam will change to a two part format in May 2010 and emphasize the critical skills related to financial planning, analysis, control, and decision support. The board took a "Greenfield" approach, after extensive input from controller interviews and focus groups, and recommendations from a committee charged with reviewing the exam. The new CMA certification program includes two four-hour exams each consisting of 100 multiple choice questions and two 30-minute essay questions. An outline of the two exams appears below:

Part 1 covers Financial Planning, Performance & Control:

Planning, budgeting, and forecasting

Performance management

Cost management

Internal controls

Professional ethics

Part 2 covers Financial Decision making:

Financial statement analysis

Corporate finance

Decision analysis and risk management

Investment decisions

Professional ethics

All topics in both sections will be tested up to level "C", i.e., a candidate's ability to synthesize information, evaluate a situation, and make recommendations. Levels "A" (knowledge and comprehension), and "B" (application and analysis) are also tested. The increased emphasis on "C" level knowledge is a change from the previous four part exam. An underlying assumption of the new program is that candidates have a certain level of accounting and business knowledge related to economics and statistics, and a strong foundation in financial accounting, budgeting, forecasting, performance measurement, and financial statement analysis.

The following topics have been either added, or given increased emphasis in the new program:

Pro forma income,

Financial statement projections,

Cash flow projections,

Off-balance sheet financing,

Fair value accounting,

International financial reporting standards (IFRS),

Mergers and acquisitions,

COSO internal control framework,

Enterprise risk management (ERM), and

Professional ethics.

Topics such as economics, information technology, marketing, and organizational behavior are no longer included on the exams. The new CMA maintains the rigor of the previous program, but focuses more on the critical marketable skills related to financial planning, analysis, control, and decision support.


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