Profile Morgan Fannon

MorganMorgan Fannon is starting her career this month with a lot of accomplishments under her belt. She’s joining the Nashville office of CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA), a public accounting firm, having earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Northern Iowa. She also recently passed both parts of the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) exam—and the CPA exam, too.

Morgan was the recipient of a CMA Scholarship, which she learned about from a professor during her sophomore year. She had always been interested in management accounting—although she may not have recognized it as such at the time.

“My father owns a welding shop, and I’d always grown up around manufacturing. The idea of working at a manufacturing company had always appealed to me, so management accounting was something that definitely intrigued me once I started studying it,” she explained.

Once she received the CMA Scholarship, it was then a matter of finding time to prepare for the exam. Morgan was also taking a CPA review class on campus. That content aligned well with Part 2 of the CMA exam, and it helped in her preparation.

Morgan followed a rigorous study routine, especially because her plan was to take Part 2 of the CMA in January. To meet that time frame, she devoted six to eight hours a day during her entire Christmas break (of course, maybe taking a couple of days off to celebrate the holidays).

“I considered it my full-time job, giving it about 40 hours a week for three to four weeks,” she recalled. To prepare for Part 2, she found the study materials she received as part of her CMA Scholarship particularly helpful. “I basically did test after test after test, reviewing the questions I got wrong and filling in any gaps in my knowledge.”

She passed Part 2 of the CMA exam and then took Part 1 in May. For Part 1, she took a similar approach once she was off from school: Studying about six to eight hours a day for two weeks, although she did study a bit while she was in school during that spring semester.

Morgan’s classes, including her exam review studies, prepared her well to take the exam. “Yes, the review helped me prepare for the exam and in a way, the exam also helped me prepare for classes. There were concepts from the exam that I was studying in my courses, so having reviewed those concepts for the exam really helped.” She used an example of equations related to contribution margins: “When we started learning it in class, I realized, hey, I’ve already studied this for the CMA exam!”

As for whether she’s glad she invested the time early to take the CMA, it’s clear where Morgan stands: “I’m really happy I knocked out the CMA before I started working full time. The information is so fresh when you’re in school. I have so much respect for people who are working and take the test when they’ve been out of school for years, even decades. To me, they truly embody the idea of a lifelong learner, which is something I definitely aspire to be.”

She also offered advice for students who are considering taking the exam: “Show up for yourself.” She said that she had lots of days while she was preparing that she could have decided to skip a day or two. “It’s easy to make excuses, to say you’re having a bad day and you can pick it up tomorrow.” When she had days like that, Morgan tried to at least get 10 questions done, so it wouldn’t be what she’d consider a “wasted day.” Often, 10 questions turned into 20 and 20 turned into 30. 

“See it through and you’ll be so proud of your accomplishment,” she said.