If you run a small business, you always have a list of potential roles to fill in the back of your mind: office administrator, receptionist, salesperson, etc. But what about a certified management accountant (CMA)? Chances are, you’ve either already hired or have considered hiring a bookkeeper or an in-house accountant. However, an accounting professional with a CMA certification can do more than keep your books or prepare your tax return; they can help you save money, uncover data-driven insights, protect your reputation and prepare for the future of your business.  

In this post, we’ll explain what a CMA does and why small businesses should have a CMA on staff. We’ll also cover the benefits of CMA certification for anyone considering pursuing this designation.  

What is CMA certification?  

CMA, or Certified Management Accountant, is a certification issued by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), a global association of finance and accounting professionals. The designation is recognized in more than 150 countries and signifies advanced knowledge of financial principles, accounting rules and regulations, budget planning, data analysis and management.  

While the CMA and CPA (certified public accountant) designations indicate a high level of expertise in finance and accounting, CMA certification reflects a more in-depth understanding of subjects specific to corporate and business settings. These include cost management, performance management, forecasting and strategy, and data-informed decision-making.  

To achieve CMA certification, an individual must pass the CMA Exam. To be eligible to sit the exam, a candidate needs a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and at least two years of work experience. Active membership in the IMA is also required. The CMA Exam consists of two parts. Part One covers financial planning, performance and analytics; Part Two focuses on strategic financial management. Each section includes 100 multiple-choice questions and two 30-minute essays. To move on to the essay portion, a candidate must score at least 50% on the multiple-choice section.  

Unlike the CPA designation, the CMA certification is recognized internationally. CMAs are employed by some of the biggest corporations in the world, and for good reason — they’re experts at what they do. They can also provide small businesses with the same level of skill and knowledge. 

CMA certification benefits for your small business 

You may think that your business is too small to hire a CMA. However, companies of every size have brought CMAs on board. While CMA salaries are in the high range, with a national average in the six figures, the benefits often far outweigh the costs.  

In this section, we’ll go through five reasons you should have a certified management accountant on your team.  

Make the most of your data 

Certified management accountants do more than track and record your numbers; they also analyze them. CMAs understand how to uncover the “why” and “how” behind your company’s financial data and use that information to help you make smart business decisions. Having a CMA on staff means knowing what your numbers mean, not just what they are. This can offer an enormous advantage if your small business is in a highly competitive field.  

Protect your reputation  

Newer companies, especially those growing, can be prone to pitfalls damaging their reputation or standing among customers, vendors or the public. This is a challenging and uncertain time for any organization, and missteps are common. However, a CMA can offer protection from these mistakes. CMA certification includes in-depth training on ethical standards about business operations and financial management. A CMA can be the perfect sounding board and strategic partner if you need advice in these areas.  

Budget more effectively 

In today’s challenging economic climate, every dollar must be spent wisely. CMAs are experts in cost management and can help you get the most bang for your buck regarding your budget. In addition, a certified management accountant is adept at forecasting and can identify potential upcoming costs, evaluate price changes and enter market fluctuations into the budget equation. The bottom line? A CMA can help you save money.  

Gain financial knowledge (beyond taxes) 

Yes, a CMA can prepare the tax return for your small business. However, they can also do a lot more. The finance world is constantly shifting and evolving, and any competent CMA should remain up-to-date on relevant trends, which can then be used to inform your business strategy. In addition, a CMA can provide advice about compliance, accounting regulations and produce any financial documents required by law. 

Leadership and management experience 

Depending on the size of your business, you may find yourself hiring an entire finance department. In that case, a CMA can act as a leader and manager, helping those new to the field gain their footing. One of the benefits of CMA certification is that it includes management training, which means you’ll already have a knowledgeable potential executive on your staff.  

Benefits of CMA certification for accounting professionals 

Consider pursuing the CMA credential if you’re already an accounting professional. With this certification, you’ll demonstrate that you can be trusted with sensitive financial information and strategic decision-making, no matter where you work. Some of the benefits of CMA certification include:  

  • Additional career opportunities: With a CMA certification, you can apply for jobs that require or prefer that specific designation. 
  • Career advancement: Pursuing your CMA demonstrates you’re serious about your career and commitment to widening your skillset, which is impressive to almost any employer. 
  • Increased earning potential: On average, CMAs earn 10%-15% more than non-certified accountants 
  • Credibility and status: The CMA title is recognized around the world and confers respect and trust.  
  • Broader skills and knowledge: The greater your knowledge base, the more value you can provide to potential clients and employers.  

Achieving the CMA certification can take your accounting or finance career to the next level. However, first, you must pass the CMA Exam.  

Luckily, we’ve got resources for that! Our exam preparation offerings help you reach your CMA certification goal as quickly as possible. Each exam review product includes unlimited practice exams and a 100% pass guarantee. That means you’ll have full access to all course materials until you pass.  

Our exam prep courses are designed to help you study more efficiently. For example, our proprietary A.S.A.P.® Technology uses adaptive learning to assess your strengths and weaknesses so you can tailor your studies accordingly. Whenever you log into your course, our Daily Surge cards will appear and suggest topics for that study session, helping you stay on track. Also, our MyMCQ™ multiple-choice practice questions allow you to master increasingly complicated subjects as you go, building on your previous knowledge. When that test date is getting close, our ReadySCORE™ feature is an exam-readiness indicator that will predict your likely score.  

Take advantage of the benefits of CMA certification  

No matter your industry, hiring a CMA can provide your small businesses with tremendous advantages. A certified management accountant brings financial knowledge, statistical acumen, leadership expertise, and strategic thinking to any organization. As your company evolves, that investment will only continue to pay dividends.