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  • Jul 8th, 2013 3:38 pm
[OP]
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Jun 8, 2008
581 posts
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Cma/cpa?

I'm considering doing a CMA for a couple reasons and I'm looking for some advice. Here's some background: I did an undergrad in Engineering from a school in Ontario and was hired directly by a Fortune 500 company in the consumer packaged goods industry. Since then, I haven't done a lick of 'technical' engineering although I do believe my education has helped me tremendously in some ways. I'm 25 and I've been with this company for 4 years. In that time I've earned promotions and bounced through a number of roles (operations, ERP implementation, Controller, Manager in ops). Note that I have ZERO formal accounting experience and I was given the Controller role as a challenge and also to fill an unforeseen vacancy.

I'm starting a new role in a new area of the business - audit. This is a bit of a departure from my educational background but trust me I can handle it. I've figured out over time that I would like to continue on the finance/strategy side of the business as a career instead of operations. This has led me to consider pursuing a designation while I'm working in audit to round out my engineering education. First question: do you think this is wise or would I be better off doing a part-time MBA?

Next - I don't think I have any of the prereqs for the CMA except stats. I wasn't very wise with my electives at school (only had 3!) and I wish I had taken micro/macro. That said, I'm a pretty quick learner and I have gained a LOT of knowledge regarding economics, accounting, and management throughout my years. It looks like none of this counts for the CMA though and I'll have to complete all the courses before I can take the entrance exam. Second question: is there any way to make this affordable? The courses will cost me ~2k according to the CMA Ontario site. Are there any online certified courses for cheaper?

Feel free to give me any general advice! I'll admit I'm pretty ignorant about this whole thing.
16 replies
Deal Addict
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Jan 11, 2004
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I think the CMA program have been discontinued with the merger. Start looking at CPA paths. Since you sound so experienced and your company is a fortune 500, couldn't they pay for your designation?
[OP]
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Jun 8, 2008
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You're right. I just googled and the CPA site says their first programs are starting this summer. Changed the title to reflect.

My company might support a portion of the cost but they're very lean and not very employee-focused. I'll ask my HR manager sometime in the next few weeks.
Jr. Member
Aug 29, 2012
105 posts
4 upvotes
Greater Vancouver
You'll have to go through the whole Prerequisite Education Program first, which will last about a year and a half with your background, before you go into the two-year Professional Education Program.
Member
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Mar 8, 2004
321 posts
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Montreal
just my 2 cents.

it really depends on your career goals...if you think to stay in the accounting field, designation is not everything, but will play an important role about other's perception of you...to the extend of some people in the field being almost "designation trolls" flashing their endless credentials...which is really kind of like a ground floor for knowledge but in practice, it's a whole different area. i'm not saying it's bad, but to be careful when looking at others. I've known a lot of people with many designation that were very qualified, but always made sure the work they did was just enough interesting to want more but never a complete solution and always creeping to have more work and appear useful. If you ask me, they thread a fine line in their work ethics, but maybe it's just the nature of their work. I've also known some great people working really well with a complete solution that got paid really well but their services were not solicited often...i guess it also depends on their manager...anyhoo if it's for yourself, then it's a whole different story....

Just to keep in mind, if you wanna go into finance, why not do a CFA?
Accounting is the "science" of analyzing the past, finance is the "science" of predicting the "future"
In a hard economy you want an accountant, in an optimistic economy you want a finance guy.

Personally, i went through a similar process to yourself, i did a comp. sci, went to work for a company in the paper and wood that used to be in the top companies, then moved around and ended up in audit, did an accounting degree and got really close to start the CMA. then the company went under a merger..and then went under chapter 11 to survive under a new name. I decided to leave the company due to morale being so low after 8 years with them...Then I realized that the future is not just into providing professional services but more about providing services with things that cannot be outsourced so easily. It had to contain an element of creativity and/or culture, or social context...So I went to work for a big video game company, and transitioned from a similar type of work from audit; i was responsible to do a governance and operational framework for IT security to be implemented in Montreal and then propagate it worldwide, then transitioned to be a project manager there...which i still am :)

oh yeah and as for paying for the school courses...the company i used to work for used to pay for my courses at a reasonable 80% of the cost up to a max limit of 2000$ per year...so the MBA that will cost you 15000 or more depending on where you do it....will most likely not be covered...but i guess it depends on the company's policies...

Sorry if it's ramble, it's just my personal experience with it.
[OP]
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Jun 8, 2008
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bobmanw wrote:
Jul 4th, 2013 8:47 am
Sorry if it's ramble, it's just my personal experience with it.
Thanks so much. I really appreciate the advice, especially as you've been through a similar career path.
Sr. Member
Sep 26, 2007
846 posts
20 upvotes
At 25 years old you were promoted to Controller without any formal experience in a F500?

I don't care to post here much, but that sounds like a bunch of B.S. unless by Controller you mean it was some sort of a clerical admin position.

How much staff did you have reporting to you? How many were designated? What was the annual revenue of your division?
Newbie
Jan 27, 2009
88 posts
12 upvotes
Toronto
[QUOTE]At 25 years old you were promoted to Controller without any formal experience in a F500?

I don't care to post here much, but that sounds like a bunch of B.S. unless by Controller you mean it was some sort of a clerical admin position.
How much staff did you have reporting to you? How many were designated? What was the annual revenue of your division? [/QUOTE]


Something about the OP's story doesn't seem to add up in my mind either...particularly because this was all for a F500 organization. If the OP is shilling then he wouldn't be the first one on RFD to do so.

My one piece of advice, there is an ethics component to the CMA (or CPA) program. Pay extra close attention to the study material for this section.
[OP]
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Jun 8, 2008
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TooSoonJr wrote:
Jul 5th, 2013 9:31 am
At 25 years old you were promoted to Controller without any formal experience in a F500?

I don't care to post here much, but that sounds like a bunch of B.S. unless by Controller you mean it was some sort of a clerical admin position.

How much staff did you have reporting to you? How many were designated? What was the annual revenue of your division?
Trust me, you're not the first person who has told me how odd this is. They were able to fill the vacancy with someone who was a) cheap (low salary) and b) understood our brand new erp system very well from implementation. It was never considered a permanent placement, just a short term win-win. My replacement has a CA and everyone else in the department was certified. The company is quite cost conscience and they didn't have the time to find an external candidate with the right salary.

If you've ever worked through an erp implementation you'll probably understand. The accounting department really struggled with the new systems and were pulling all nighters just to get the books closed. I brought a lot of value towards fixing that because I understood the system.

Up to you if you want to believe me or not. Maybe you can humor me and provide some advice on the designation?
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Sep 26, 2007
846 posts
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floe32 wrote:
Jul 5th, 2013 11:14 am
Trust me, you're not the first person who has told me how odd this is. They were able to fill the vacancy with someone who was a) cheap (low salary) and b) understood our brand new erp system very well from implementation. It was never considered a permanent placement, just a short term win-win. My replacement has a CA and everyone else in the department was certified. The company is quite cost conscience and they didn't have the time to find an external candidate with the right salary.

If you've ever worked through an erp implementation you'll probably understand. The accounting department really struggled with the new systems and were pulling all nighters just to get the books closed. I brought a lot of value towards fixing that because I understood the system.

Up to you if you want to believe me or not. Maybe you can humor me and provide some advice on the designation?
I am on my second SAP implementation now (both at F100 companies).

By the looks of it you weren't a Controller, you were someone used as a resource during an implementation, which makes more sense. No company will risk their financial controls and integrity of their statements (especially if public) at ANY cost, especially not over 5/k month of incremental savings in salary. LOL

You are either trolling or lying, I am leaning towards the latter. I can only picture how a department of designated accountants (who obviously aren't capable to handle an ERP implementation LOL) came running to you (someone who doesn't know the difference between a debit and credit) for help.

Good story though, made for a good Friday morning laugh.
[OP]
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Jun 8, 2008
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Man, you're a bit of a ***** eh?

I'm not going try to convince you. Again, how about you pretend I'm telling the truth and give me some helpful advice?
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Jun 12, 2009
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floe32 wrote:
Jul 5th, 2013 12:20 pm
Man, you're a bit of a ***** eh?

I'm not going try to convince you. Again, how about you pretend I'm telling the truth and give me some helpful advice?
It's not him being a ***** , rather, it's the envy he feels regarding the idea of such a prestigeous title being "handed" over to someone with 1/5th the education he has.

Envy comes in many different colors. On this, I can only imagine the background politics behind your situation. Anyone with a designation will not "enjoy" teaming up with non-designated employees, paid to do the same work. Can you blame them? It's like someone with several years of experience being forced into a position that sees multiple people "off the street"...

In regards to advice, why not ask your HR department? You win on two levels here:
1. You demonstrate modest approach to advancement; staying within the company and continued education.
2. You should get a direct answer; seek council results in truth; you're on the radar.
Physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an attempt by an atom to understand itself.
Jr. Member
Apr 6, 2009
111 posts
10 upvotes
Toronto
Being a controller is totally different from being an ERP implementation specialist. As a Controller, you are required to review and analyze financial reporting. Given your lack of experience, I really don't think a company can risk the reliability of their statements to someone with little to no experience. This story does not make much sense.
Sr. Member
Sep 26, 2007
846 posts
20 upvotes
Vdubbs wrote:
Jul 6th, 2013 2:19 pm
Being a controller is totally different from being an ERP implementation specialist. As a Controller, you are required to review and analyze financial reporting. Given your lack of experience, I really don't think a company can risk the reliability of their statements to someone with little to no experience. This story does not make much sense.
Stop being envious of him!!!! lulz
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Sep 13, 2005
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:lol: :lol: LOL Made my day, F500 and they put somebody with zero experience as their controller and we can’t handle a ERP. Yes, we are VERY envious how OP got to be a controller over designated folks. LOL The controller salary is peanuts compared to a big lawsuit if it’s a public company if you mess up.

We need more trolls like this so I can have a good laugh for the day.

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