How the CMA Can Help You Become a CFO

Chief Financial Officer

So you want to be a CFO, but don’t know where to start.  Often to achieve any high level management accounting position, you will need to have a special degree or certification.  

While there is certainly an array of different certifications you could obtain in pursuit of this goal, the CMA is a wonderful option that will  help you significantly in your career, and may even help you achieve your dream of CFO.

Many CFO hopefuls decide to go the CPA route believing that the skills they will obtain from the CPA will help them into the role of CFO.  

While this is a smart first step that will ground you in the areas basic to a CFO’s position such as financial accounting, taxation, and business law, it is indeed just the first step of your journey.  

As a CFO you’ll be dealing with huge company responsibilities and major business decisions.  To be a successful CFO, it is essential  to grow upon this basic foundation by furthering both your formal and informal education.  Obtaining your CMA certification is an excellent way to do this.

But why choose the CMA certification over a graduate degree like the MBA?  While the MBA is indeed prestigious and may eventually lead you into the role of a CFO, it is not as focused as the CMA.

The MBA covers a more broad spectrum of topics – it encompasses what you need to learn,  but also what you have probably already mastered as an accountant.  

The CMA may give you an advantage over those with an MBA, as it gives you a much more specialized education, training you purely in the skills that are absolutely essential to anyone hoping to find success as a CFO.  

Essential skills for CFOs:

  • Financial planning and analysis
  • Cost management
  • Internal controls/information systems
  • Strategic planning and decision making
  • Banking
  • Risk Management
  • Investment decision making
  • Operations management
  • Human resources
  • Organizational behavior
  • Coaching staff
  • Marketing

These are all skills that you will frequently utilize in your job as a CFO.

Of course  just having a CMA is not a guarantee that you will eventually become a CFO – no certification or degree will.  To get to the top, you need to start thinking like a business strategist, and as mentioned above, that’s what a CMA is. Getting certified can help you by providing you with these crucial thinking skills.

You can start thinking like a CFO, by immersing yourself in the profession and all it entails.  Another great thing about obtaining your CMA certification is that it comes with Membership with the IMA (Institute of Management Accountants).  

As a CMA, you will have access to all the IMA has to offer members, giving you ample opportunity to practice the skills so crucial to career development on the path to CFO, such as team building, networking, and leadership.

There is no single path that can grant you success as a CFO, or even secure you a place as a CFO in a small company.  

Each company is different and will have different expectations of CFO candidates.  However, the CMA will definitely equip you with the knowledge and skills to grow and thrive in your career, so that you can pragmatically reach your goal of becoming a CFO.

If you’d like to begin your journey to become a CMA, please check out my CMA prep courses here.  These include everything you need to persevere in your studies, from coaching support to interactive textbooks, test banks, video and audio lectures, and more.

Nathan Liao

Hi, I’m Nathan Liao (aka the CMA Coach)! For the last 10 years, over 82,000 accounting and finance pros came knocking at my door seeking guidance and help. If you’re also aiming to conquer the CMA exam on your very first try—without wasting away time or money—you’ve found your ultimate guide. Dive in deeper to discover more about me and the dedicated team that powers CMA Exam Academy. Click here and let’s embark on this journey together!

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