Archive for March, 2011

March 14, 2011

What a CMA Panel Taught Us

by Scott Roehl

(Photo credit: Stephen Dueck –

During the evening of March 9th at the Fort Garry Hotel, students from several post-secondary institutions gathered with members of the CMA Community in Manitoba to learn how a CMA designation can create possibilities in their future. The first annual CMA Panel Event fostered connections and interactions between students and CMAs/CMA Candidates from a variety of backgrounds and industries.

One of the key elements of the evening was the panel discussion which gave students the power to ask questions that mattered to them. A panel consisting of three CMAs and a Year 2 CMA Candidate along with a CMA Panel Moderator took questions supplied by students and provided their thoughts and advice. Very insightful questions were asked on a variety of topics ranging from the impact of the recession, to what is gained from the Strategic Leadership Program to advice for someone coming from a non-conventional accounting background.

Darrell, a student from the University of Winnipeg, shared some of these key takeaways from the evening:

A designation gives you a strong foundation to build on, but does not entitle you to a high level position immediately. You have to be prepared to work hard.

The CMA Accelerated Program disciplines you and prepares a person well for the Entrance Exam and Strategic Leadership Program

The Strategic Leadership Program fosters relationships and networks that will carry right through your career

The Strategic Leadership Program: strategy development, you learn to ask and understand the questions “where we are” and “where do we want to be”

Advice given for students considering the CMA designation: Budget your time, be flexible, build a support base around you of family and friends, find ways to integrate what you learn in to your life and remember to keep a work-life balance

For students that attended, what else did you takeaway from the evening? What did you find insightful? Please share in the comments.

Thank you to the following individuals who provided their time to be on the panel:

Denise Zaporzan, CMA, FCMA (Panel Moderator)
Sara Stasiuk, CMA
Jeremy Messner, CMA
Kerry Wolfe, CMA
Sarah Townsend – CMA Candidate

Related Blog Post:
Denise captures the spirit of the event with some additional comments from the evening through her latest blog post. (recommended read!)

Photos from the event: CMA Manitoba Facebook Page (CMA Panel Event Photo Album)

March 1, 2011

5 questions to ask when considering an accounting designation.

by Scott Roehl

When it comes to accounting designations in Canada, there are three very prominent and respected options to choose from – CMA, CA and CGA. Regardless of your choice, it is abundantly important that you ask the right questions to make an informed decision. After all, an accounting designation will change your life both professionally and personally.

Here are some important questions to consider:

  • What differentiates one designation from another?
    One of if not the most asked question, and also one of the most difficult to answer. Your best answer to this question is to speak with each accounting body directly and learn more about the type of training they provide and the work their Members are involved in. Having the opportunity to speak with a CMA, CA or CGA can also be helpful in gaining a better perspective on the distinctions.
  • What is the program length?
    How fast can I complete a <insert designation here>? Sound familiar? This is a common question for students to ask. After all, a student has likely spent 2, 3, 4 or more years in post-secondary studies and doesn’t want to become a professional student. Perhaps the better question to ask though is how long is the program? Regardless of what path you choose, there will be a time investment required and a lot of hard work. Consider the upside though of what doors will open for you once you attain a designation. Make sure you really understand how long it is going to take you to get through the process.
  • What is the common designation in my area of interest?
    Considering a career in the agricultural or telecommunication industry? How about government? Find out what which designation (or designations) are commonly held by people in that industry and why. Perhaps there are some key factors to consider that will assist you with your decision.
  • What is the earning potential?
    You are willing to make the commitment, why not find out what your job prospects are and the current salary averages? Each accounting body can provide specific information on salary averages but make sure you get context on the numbers provided (are the averages broken down by years of experience or type of position for example). External organizations such as recruiters can also provide useful information. One example is the Robert Half Financial Salary Calculator.
  • What are the associated costs?
    Take time to understand what type of financial investment is required. This would include program costs, reference materials and support resources, exams and student fees. Do you have to pay all up front or is there a fee schedule? Is there financial support available or will companies support the cost of these programs? These are all really good questions to ask.

Students, are there other questions that you commonly ask? Let me know in the comments section.