Your CMA Questions Asked and Answered

Considering taking the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) exam as a student? What’s the difference between the CMA and the CPA and which should you pursue first? 

Fielding those questions—and more—during an “Ask Me Anything” Reddit session was Adam Milano, a mergers, acquisitions, and transaction services manager at Deloitte Advisory. Having just completed his sixth year at Deloitte, Adam started out as an audit associate and moved to an advisory role about two years ago. Adam has earned both the CMA and CPA certifications, and most of his work is focused on the advisory, management, and leadership areas of accounting. He was recently selected to participate in IMA’s prestigious Young Professional Leadership Experience.

During the session (available at I’m a CMA and a six-year Deloitte employee), Adam answered inquiries about his career, his experience as a CMA, and what it’s like working at a Big Four firm. Highlights included:

How long (days) and how many hours each day did you dedicate to studying to prepare for part one of the CMA exam?

Adam’s answer: I took the CMA while I was in college. My course had one CMA test section for each semester. I took a three-hour class each week, but self-studied for about 10-15 hours per week.

My tips for the exam are practice, practice, practice!! It takes a while to study for each exam. The exams encompass a wide range of topics, so it’s important that you have the foundations mastered. Make flashcards, notes, and do as many practice problems as you can. Take practice tests to simulate the testing environment.

On testing day, make sure to arrive at the testing facilities with plenty of time so that you are ready to go when it is your time to take the exam.

How applicable is the CMA coursework to everyday work?

Adam’s answer: The CMA helps me to think differently compared to others at Deloitte. Pursuing the CMA will help you to think like your clients and understand how to operate a business with a financial mindset. For me, the CMA helped me think more analytically about my M&A transactions. It also teaches you how to interpret and analyze complicated data, which is a very common theme for my deals.

How much does the CMA matter in M&A or other advisory roles outside of audit/tax at the Big Four?

Adam’s answer: The CMA is something that sets me apart from the other M&A managers in our group. The CMA helps me bring a different perspective on my transactions and really think like a business owner involved in the M&A deal. 

On the M&A side of Deloitte, the CMA holds as much weight as the CPA. If I didn’t have a professional certification like the CMA, I would not have been promoted to manager.

Visit the IMA website to learn more about the CMA certification