CMA (US) vs. other options - Thoughts

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  • May 6th, 2019 11:01 pm
Aug 11, 2013
27 posts
1 upvote

CMA (US) vs. other options - Thoughts


As the title said, I would like to get some opinions on CMA (US).

I have been in internal audit (IA) for about 9 years now. My situation is unique because I did not go through a ‘traditional’ route for the auditors; you study accounting, go to public accounting firms, obtain a CPA, and exit to the industry. I started as an Infosec, moved to IT audit, and then doing various internal audit engagements (operational/financial/IT/Compliance, etc.). I like Internal Audit and want to be a Director of IA someday, so I don’t plan to switch to another work. The thing is that I do not have a CPA, but it seems that it is the critical requirement to become a Director of IA. Interestingly, I applied for some director roles and able to get an interview but often asked about the lack of accounting designation. I did search on Linkedin. In the US, you do not have to have a CPA, but in Canada, I did not see someone without a CPA who is the Director of IA.

As a side note, I did my B.Comm and MBA and did the following…CIA, CRMA, CFE, CISA, CISM, CRISC, PMP, CISSP.

Here are my options:

1) CPA (Canada) - Without a question, this is the one to go after but here are some problems.

• Time: As it turned out, all the courses I took in B.Comm expired, and I have to start ALL over again from ground zero. I can only take 1 class at a time. So just finishing PREP and PEP would take me 5-6 years. After MBA, the thought of going to class after work for another 5-6 years is not so desirable.

• Experience: This is probably the biggest issue. Let’s say I finished everything, but I cannot get certified. Since I started in internal audit, I don’t have experience in 2 core mandatory modules (Financial Reporting and Management Accounting). That means I have to get an entry level job at my 40s and my pay would be down by possibly more than 50%...simply put, just does not make financial sense.

2) CPA ACAF (Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Finance) – I looked at it, and it seems it is just what you get after finishing PREP (with an exam). It seems the job market that I am in does not recognize this.

3) CPA (US) – I am staying in Canada, so there is no point of getting the US CPA. Besides, I have to take courses to sit for the exam, but then again I cannot get certified or get licensed.

4) Masters in Accounting – This might be a good option, but there are no schools in Canada offering online. Plus, there seems the little point of doing MAcc when the goal of doing MAcc is mostly to get a CPA.

5) Accounting Diploma (UBC DAP) – It is a diploma and is equivalent to ACAF. Then again, the goal of doing accounting diploma is to get a CPA after all.

6) CFA – No. I do not plan to work in Fin/investment field. Tried it and did not like it. Plus, I don’t have the required experience and CFA is not really related to internal audit unless you work in bank or finance.

7) FRM – No. I am not assessing market/credit risks — not part of my job.

8) CMA (US) – After considering everything, this option stands. I have the required experience, I can study on my own, and no need to attend classes. I have done a lot of research on this. It seems that materials you learn are valuable, but the reality is that the perceived value of the cert is quite or very low even in the US where CPA USA is preferred majority of the time. That means that the value of it might be little or close to none in Canada. I have never heard or seen someone with this in Canada, and CMA (US) can’t replace CPA (Canada). The reasons why I considered this was because it shows me that I am not completely blind when it comes to accounting/finance in the eye of the HR and hiring manager. But I could be wrong here too.

9) Self-study – The other option is to do nothing and study accounting on my own. Let go of this issue and invest in other skills (leadership, communication etc).

I think I have spent more than enough time researching and trying to figure things out and feel like I have reached the cul-de-sac. Just want to know if I am missing anything and love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Thanks in advance
2 replies
Deal Addict
Apr 7, 2011
1851 posts
CMA (US) isn't recognized and it's been too long since unification for you to 'slip past' the gate keepers that will only let in people with designations.
In the past I'd have said look at CGA as it was well suited for your situation.
I think you're better off with a US CPA out of Illinois or some other state that doesn't require work experience. You'd have the initials and your work experience gives you the background. You won't be able to get CPA Canada to recognize you but you'll have better luck finding work.
Also-ran check out Laurier, they had some weekend courses in the past leading to a designation.
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5477 posts
Honestly, many HR people/hiring managers probably haven't heard of the US version of a CMA, let alone attach any value to it (they'll probably think "huh, this guy doesn't even know his designation has changed to CPA"). That aside, in many cases it might look weird to have a US designation without any US history/experience.

How about consulting? Consulting firms, even Big 4, hire people from industry - in some cases, more for their industry experience than their professional accounting qualifications. With your IA experience (especially if in a desirable industry) combined with IT, you have a chance. If you do get some experience with a well-known consulting firm, that will add weight to your resume if and when you decide to move back into industry, letters or not.