I’m a consultant and my job is to help companies to get the best from Microsoft Dynamics software. I primarily work with finance departments. Recently I became a Certified Management Accountant (aka CMA), which means that the Institute of Management Accountants confirmed that I have expertise in finance, analysis, control, and decision support. Although it was difficult, time consuming, and expensive to achieve, I want to tell you about the advantages I got by achieving CMA credentials.
When I serve the customer I need to resolve many different requirements. And when I serve the finance department I usually solve requests related to ledger, payable, receivable, bank, costing, forecasting, budgeting, external reporting, and so on. I can tell for sure that CMA certification gives very practical knowledge in finance. Here is my story.
When I studied for CMA, I was assigned to set up standard costing in Dynamics AX 2012. To do this properly I needed to understand how standard costing helps to manage business, know how to calculate variances, learn how the ledger entries are managed, etc.
The knowledge I got from studying for CMA really helped me dramatically. The practical knowledge I gained was a foundation for figuring out how things work in Dynamics AX. I didn’t struggle much to set up standard costing in Dynamics AX and did it well from the beginning because standard costing works pretty much the same way in Dynamics AX as I learned from CMA studying.
Standard costing is just one example of the practical skills I gained. CMA certification covers a lot of areas where Dynamics AX financial consultants usually involved, such as financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, cost allocations, and ledger entries. Even internal control is useful as it covers a lot of things about segregation of duties, which is important because it must be taken into account when access rights are set up. All of these things I learned helps me to understand Dynamics AX better and bring more value to the companies I serve.
The next benefit I got from CMA certification is the ability to see a bigger and clearer picture about finance. I hold a degree in accounting, but I didn’t fully understand how finance works because I earned my degree while the country where I live stopped doing plan economy and started a market economy. At that time not many people understood there how things worked in a market economy. “What is capital?”, “What is a capital market?”, and “What is the cost of capital?” Studying for CMA helped me gain insights in corporate finance. I realized the importance of the role of shareholders, that rising capital is the most critical thing for the company, and the cost of capital must alway be considered.
Furthermore, the focus of the accounting I learned at the university was primarily focused on compliance with local regulations. I didn’t really learn why the regulations were built in the first place and how they can differ from county to country. Studying for CMA gave me a clear picture of what regulations are all about. I learned fundamental principles regarding asset, liability, equity, revenue, and expense. I realized how similar these rules are around the globe. I learned the key points about GAAP and how they are different from IFRS. I understood how different these standards were from regulations in my country. This knowledge helps me a lot when I talk with finance people. This knowledge gives me confidence.
Frequently when doing Dynamics AX setup, I have to figure out how to calculate something. For example when I do manufacturing setup I often deal with the cost of production. To set the system up well, I need to figure out how the cost must be calculated. Another example is fixed asset depreciation. There are many methods to calculate it. To make sure that the system works properly I need to know how the calculation must be performed.
After studying for CMA I am much better with numbers because I practiced a lot by solving numerical problems. Otherwise I couldn’t have passed the exam. I personally believe that in order to pass the CMA exam you are excellent with numbers.
It is worth mentioning that I’m not an English native speaker, nor did I obtain my education in English. All of the business jargon like revenue, cost, expense, gain, loss, margin, depreciation, fixed asset, equity, liability, share, bond, were very unfamiliar to me. Studying for CMA helped me to make my business English much better. Now I’m able to use business language with confidence. I didn’t do anything special to learn English. I just studied for the exam and practiced by solving problems. Now I’m very confident with my English and can effectively serve English-speaking clients.
To bring more value to the client, knowledge is the most important thing to have. It’s not enough to have insights about the computer software only. It’s much more important to know what is behind the implementation of the computer system. The system reflects the domain knowledge where it is used.
Relevant knowledge and experience are the key ingredients for success. Professional certifications provide opportunity to improve knowledge in a specific domain. Studying for CMA is a great way to improve knowledge in finance. CMA credentials help you to be in high demand and earn more.