IMA Spotlight: Tao (Richard) SunThe CMA? (Certified Management Accountant) certification: It?s not just for accountants. Just ask Tao Sun, a young professional who earned his bachelor?s degree in Marketing and his master?s degree in Economics and who recently decided that to help him do his job better, he also wanted to earn IMA?s? (Institute of Management Accountants) prestigious CMA.

Tao learned of the CMA while at his current post as a financial analyst at Red Bank, N.J.-based Network 1 Financial Securities, where he has served for nearly three years. In this role, Tao works with the managing director of the company?s investment banking department, where he assists clients with their IPO deals.

?There?s a ton of information that comes to us when we work on an IPO,? Tao explained. ?I have to synthesize a great deal of data and provide thoughtful, useful analysis in the due diligence process.? It didn?t take Tao long to realize that he needed a very specific set of skills to do his job well ? skills such as business modeling, financial performance forecasting, company valuation, and a variety of other analytical tools.

To help with this work, Tao decided that he wanted to supplement his Economics education. He explained, ?My Economics background gave me the ability to see the big picture and to look at things from the top down. What I wanted to gain was the ability to see more of the smaller details. I know that accounting is the language of business, and that?s what I needed on a daily basis in my job.?

That set Tao on a path to discover where to learn more about accounting. He considered a few different paths: getting an MBA, becoming a CPA, or perhaps just taking an online accounting course. After talking with his friends who worked in accounting, he knew that the CMA was the right certification for him. ?I saw that it covered the exact things I needed to know ? things like internal controls, cost analysis, forecasting, and all sorts of other important skills.?

Tao began preparing for the exam last year. He spent about a month studying for each part, spending nearly every evening poring over exam prep materials in the town library. He studied on his own but he did have the support of his employer, who encouraged him to pursue the certification. Just as it is for nearly everyone who takes the exam, it wasn?t an easy road: ?It was definitely a sacrifice, but it was something that I was committed to and I wanted it to pay off,? he recalled.

Tao passed the exam and became a CMA in September 2016, and he?s pleased with what is has already brought to his work at Network 1 Financial. And he sees the benefits extending throughout his career as well: ?I think being a CMA will give me many options in the future. If I want to go into another industry like corporate finance or work in a different field, I know that I?ll have this certification. After all, every business needs a management accountant.?