CMA/CFM vs CPA Designation

What is the difference in the above designations? We are most familiar with the CPA designation; however, don’t discount the value of a CMA or CFM. Your company has a multitude of needs and you want to ensure that you are partnering with the right professional to meet those needs.

CPA = Certified Public Accountant
CMA = Certified Management Accountant
CFM = Certified Financial Manager

The CMA/CFM credentials differ significantly from the CPA designation, and the decision to pursue one over the other depends entirely on one’s career goals. For a career in public accounting, the CPA designation is appropriate. However, more than 80% of accounting professionals in the US work inside organizations, building quality financial practices into the organization through decision support, planning, and control over the organization’s value-creating operations. For these managerial finance and accounting professionals – who represent the majority of the profession – the appropriate certification is the CMA/CFM.



  • International recognition
  • Targeted to corporate financial professionals
  • Broad-based, industry related content

Knowledge-Based Professional:

  • Preparer/user of accounting information
  • Concept-based
  • “Inside” business professionals

So when you are looking for a professional to help you with your small business, stop and consider what services you are wanting from them. Do you want them to audit your books? Prepare your taxes? Then a CPA is the right fit for you.

Do you want them to teach you how to utilize the financial information for management decision making? Or focus on the internal side of your business? Then a CMA/CFM is the right fit for you.

With the amount of information that exists in our society, it is rare that we can find one professional skilled in all areas of business. We find that a team of professionals offers us the most success, because they are skilled in their specific niche versus being a “jack of all trades”. You have to find the skill set that you need to compliment your own.

For more information on the CMA/CFM designations, you can visit the IMA website at