|David Perrins, CMA
|Brand Energy & Infrastructure Services
How did you first come across the CMA and what made you decide to go for it?
My favorite professor at Georgia Tech was Eugene Comiskey, who taught financial accounting. His CMA certification number is 12, as he passed the exam in 1973. He consulted for banks and scrutinized financial statements of companies, especially their disclosures and notes. I was impressed with his ability to dissect the financials and establish “quality earnings” and “quality cash flow” – and this impression helped inform my decision to pursue the CMA.
I heard about the certification in a management accounting class, and at first I’d thought it meant “cost accounting.” While researching the CPA exam, I realized that subjects in auditing, business law, and tax were something less than the best investment of my time and effort. That’s when I happened upon the CMA curriculum. I was wrong about it being a cost accounting exam. Half of the exam is finance, and the other half includes financial accounting, cost accounting, forecasting, budgeting and variance analysis, and performance management – all the things a good financial analyst should know. I had found the credential for me.
- In what ways do you think the CMA has impacted (or will impact) your professional journey?
I feel I could justifiably apply for jobs that I wouldn’t have had the confidence to apply for before becoming a CMA. Many companies offering finance jobs prefer or require the CPA designation or an MBA. As a CMA, I would have no apprehension in applying for those positions, as I view the CMA credential as almost a hybrid of the two.
- What is your proudest career moment or milestone as a CMA?
When I passed the exam recently, everyone on my management team was impressed. The CMA is well-known and well-respected among CPAs. It’s a difficult exam and that makes passing it special.
- What’s the best piece of advice you would give to CMA hopefuls?
First of all, I rate the Gleim review system very highly. The books are concise and excellent. However, it’s the practice exams that are invaluable. My advice to hopefuls would be, “Don’t get discouraged when you score poorly on the practice exams.” I fell into this trap, and I put off studying for weeks. You learn from mistakes – just plow through it. What really got me moving was actually registering for the exam. Nothing motivates you like a hard deadline.
- For those taking the exam, what study tip(s) can you share?
I wasted time reading the books for the second and third time. I didn’t follow the suggested study technique and I should have. Read the books once and then practice the multiple choice questions – find a good test bank (Gleim had hundreds, if not thousands, of practice questions) and just do the problems over and over. Scan the text again if needed, but don’t spend days re-reading the books. Practice with paper and a calculator, not Excel—another mistake I made.
- If you could have one superpower in the world, what would it be?
Hmmm… not sure, but I wish I could play the piano like Ben Folds.
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