Can CMA complement CFA?


I’m thinking about taking CMA. I can’t take CPA because I’m not an accounting major and I don’t have time to go back to school to get the credits I need. What I want is a very strong fundamental analysis skill set, able to analyze financial statements and equity investments to microscopic level like Warren Buffet. I’ve heard that Buffet is very good at accounting although he doesn’t have any related designation.

I’m not sure if CMA can provide enough accounting and financial analysis knowledge, and I know it’s way inferior to CPA. Currently I have no intention working in accounting. I’m more interested in equity and investment research & analysis. I just passed CFA level 2 and will take level 3 next year.

Any inputs will be appreciated.

In my opinion, the CMA will not help you achieve your goals. It does cover some areas not covered by the CFA, but not a lot. For a long time, the CPA was four tests, each 3 to 4 hours long. When I did the CMA, it was four tests, each 3 to 4 hours long. About 10 years ago, CMA reduced to just two tests. Even with four tests, it seemed to me that the CMA was at a lot more basic level.

I also believe CMA will not help you professionally. It is not widely known.

My take on the reason for the CMA - Management accountants noticed that at a party, if a CPA walked in, all those of the other gender threw themselves at the person. Management accountants wanted the same prestige, so they formed CMA. It has not worked. I spent 15 years working in accounting and finance at GE, and never heard of CMA. Those of the other gender do not throw themselves at a CMA. Most people have no idea what CMA stands for. Management accountants need to hire some good marketing people.

Just so you know that I do know something about this, my background - Doctorate in Business, with a major in Finance (2005); CMA (2009); CPA (2013); CFA - Level I (June 2019).

CMAs in Canada successfully sneaked into the ranks of CPA. Now CPA Canada has over 200,000 members.

I’ve never watched the Country Music Awards, so I don’t honestly know.


What would you say for CIA certification?

If I got it I’d be a CFA spook.

It’s quite same. Nobody likes spies nor internal controls.

And the Certified General Accountants got in the CPA mix too!!

exactly! are you Canadian?

Sure am, eh!

Thanks for your candid response. I posted the same question on a CMA forum and I got only one reply. That reply didn’t sound encouraging either. I will not pursue CMA then.

Unless you’re going into the manufacturing sector where widgets, unit costs and variable overhead rates are front and center, the CMA will not meet your needs. CPAs will have heavier components in tax, audit, and FR&A which is the route you want to go.

CPA in Canada was formed with the consolidation of three legacy accounting streams (CGA, CMA, CA). The rumor was the CA association had way more members retiring than coming in, so the amalgamation happened to keep the entity afloat.

I work at a mid-size commercial bank where the CMA designation is valued within our internal profitability management group. I don’t think it would be a total waste of time and money, but I wouldn’t expect much of a career boost apart from the knowledge you acquire.

Based on what I’ve seen, CMA only insults and criticizes CFA.

They do it because CMA is inferior to CFA, that’s why. Now I am not the type who tries put people with other qualifications down, I am sure that everyone has worked hard to earn them, so this is not a nice attitude. But the thing that makes CMA inferior in general is that it is not absolutely required to work in a specific role. For example, to work in public accounting, you need to be a Chartered/Certified accountant, to work in investments, then CFA is what is required…but to work in budgeting and management accounting, while CMA is the right qualification for such roles, I am very sure that being a Chartered Accountant is more than enough, no employer will be like; no your CPA is not enough, you have to be a CMA.

Depends on the field of work/job role. There is some overlap in terms of financial ratios and risks areas in terms of the content, though.

There are a couple of concepts where there would be an overlap, but on the majority side, CFA is different when compared to CMA. CFA consists of topics under investment, markets and risks, instruments, etc. CMA is more in the lines of costing, budgeting, reporting, financial reporting, etc.