A certified management accountant or CMA for short is one of the professions that falls under accounting careers. The management accountant is not only well versed in matters of financial accounting, but he is also qualified to handle matters that deal with business strategy. For this reason, this accountant will usually be a member of top or mid-level management.
The certified management accountant will typically not work at an accountancy firm like a certified public accountant. Instead, the CMA will be found working at an organization or company as one of their financial advisors. His role will include helping the company make strategic management decisions. He does this after carrying out an analysis of the company’s financial information. The analysis will be of a historical nature. The certified management accountant will in turn use this historical financial information to make projections or estimations of future cash flows, revenues, taxes and costs. He will also prepare budgets for the company based on this analysis. He will then be required to make reports for the consumption of top level management. Top level management relies on these reports to make strategic level decisions for the company. The management accountant should therefore be capable of providing accurate information.
Because he works in a company, the certified management accountant is sometimes referred to as a private accountant or corporate accountant. To be certified, the management accountant must sit and pass exams set and administered by a certifying body. There are several certifying bodies. In the United States, certification is offered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), which is an international accrediting body, through its certifying arm called the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA).
Certified management accountants are by necessity university graduates. This is because having a university degree is one of the requirements for enrolling into a certified management accountancy program. Some level of experience as an accountant is also preferred. A number of CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) do opt to go for this certification. The certification tests are quite rigorous and are done in either 3 or 4 parts. Certification is however well worth the trouble as it is known to greatly increase a candidate’s job prospects.
Due to the nature of the job, the ideal person will need to possess certain key attributes. He should have outstanding analytical skills, be detail oriented, have great knowledge of accounting principles and be an excellent communicator.