Certified Management Accountant

Certified Management Accountant

Institute of Management Accountants (IMA®) is the world’s leading organization dedicated to empowering management accounting and finance professionals to drive business performance. Management Accounting is the internal business building role of accounting and finance professionals who work inside organizations. These professionals are involved in designing and evaluating business processes, budgeting and forecasting, implementing and monitoring internal controls, and analyzing, and aggregating information to help drive economic value.

What does a management accountant do?

The role of management accounting differs from that of public accounting, since management accountants work at the “beginning” of the value chain, supporting decision making, planning and control, while audit and tax functions involve checking the work after the fact. Management accountants are valued business partners, directly supporting an organization’s strategic goals.

The content specification outlines presented below represent the body of knowledge that will be covered on the CMA examinations. The outlines may be changed in the future when new subject matter becomes part of the common body of knowledge.

Candidates for the CMA designation are required to take and pass Parts 1 and 2.

Candidates are responsible for being informed on the most recent developments in the areas covered in the outlines. This includes understanding of public pronouncements issued by accounting organizations as well as being up to date on recent developments reported in current accounting, financial, and business periodicals.

CMA Content Specification Overview

Part 1 Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics

(4 hours – 100 questions and 2 essay questions)


External Financial Reporting Decisions 15% Level C
Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting 20% Level C
Performance Management 20% Level C
Cost Management 15% Level C
Internal Controls 15% Level C
Technology and Analytics 15% Level C

Part 2 Strategic Financial Management

(4 hours – 100 questions and 2 essay questions)

Financial Statement Analysis 20% Level C
Corporate Finance 20% Level C
Decision Analysis 25% Level C
Risk Management 10% Level C
Investment Decisions 10% Level C
Professional Ethics 15% Level C

Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics:

External Financial Reporting Decisions (15% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Balance sheet
  • Income statement
  • Statement of changes in equity
  • Statement of cash flows
  • Integrated reporting
  • Asset valuation
  • Valuation of liabilities
  • Equity transactions
  • Revenue recognition
  • Income measurement
  • Major differences between U.S. GAAP and IFRS

Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting (20% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Analysis of external and internal factors affecting strategy
  • Long-term mission and goals
  • Alignment of tactics with long-term strategic goals
  • Strategic planning models and analytical techniques
  • Characteristics of successful strategic planning process
  • Operations and performance goals
  • Characteristics of a successful budget process
  • Resource allocation
  • Other budgeting concepts
  • Regression analysis
  • Learning curve analysis
  • Expected value
  • Annual business plans (master budgets)
  • Project budgeting
  • Activity-based budgeting
  • Zero-based budgeting
  • Continuous (rolling) budgets
  • Flexible budgeting
  • Operational budgets
  • Financial budgets
  • Capital budgets
  • Pro forma income
  • Financial statement projections
  • Cash flow projections

Performance Management (20% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Comparison of actual to planned results
  • Use of flexible budgets to analyze performance
  • Management by exception
  • Use of standard cost systems
  • Analysis of variation from standard cost expectations
  • Types of responsibility centers
  • Transfer pricing
  • Reporting of organizational segments
  • Product profitability analysis
  • Business unit profitability analysis
  • Customer profitability analysis
  • Return on investment
  • Residual income
  • Investment base issues
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Balanced scorecard

Cost Management (15% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Cost behavior and cost objects
  • Actual and normal costs
  • Standard costs
  • Absorption (full) costing
  • variable (direct) costing
  • Joint and by-product costing
  • Job order costing
  • Process costing
  • Activity-based costing
  • Life-cycle costing
  • Fixed and variable overhead expenses
  • Plant-wide departmental overhead
  • Determination of allocation base
  • Allocation of service department costs
  • Lean resource management techniques
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
  • Theory of constraints
  • Capacity management and analysis
  • Value chain analysis
  • Value-added concepts
  • Process analysis, redesign, and standardization
  • Activity-based management
  • Continuous improvement concepts
  • Best practice analysis
  • Cost of quality analysis
  • Efficient accounting processes

Internal Controls (15% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Internal control structure and management philosophy
  • Internal control policies for safeguarding and assurance
  • Internal control risk
  • Corporate governance
  • External audit requirements
  • General accounting system controls
  • Application and transaction controls
  • Network controls
  • Backup controls
  • Business continuity planning

Technology and Analytics (15% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Accounting information systems
  • Enterprise resource planning systems
  • Enterprise performance management systems
  • Data policies and procedures
  • Life cycle of data
  • Controls against security breaches
  • System Development Life Cycle
  • Process automation
  • Innovative applications
  • Business intelligence
  • Data mining
  • Analytic tools
  • Data visualization

Part 2: Strategic Financial Management:

Financial Statement Analysis (20% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Common size financial statements
  • Common base year financial statements
  • Liquidity
  • Leverage
  • Activity
  • Profitability
  • Market
  • Income measurement analysis
  • Revenue analysis
  • Cost of sales analysis
  • Expense analysis
  • Impact of foreign operations
  • Effects of changing prices and inflation
  • Impact of changes in accounting treatment
  • Accounting and economic concepts of value and income
  • Earnings quality

Corporate Finance (20% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Calculating return
  • Types of risk
  • Relationship between risk and return
  • Term structure of interest rates
  • Types of financial instruments
  • Cost of capital
  • Valuation of financial instruments
  • Financial markets and regulation
  • Market efficiency
  • Financial institutions
  • Initial and secondary public offerings
  • Dividend policy and share repurchases
  • Lease financing
  • Working capital terminology
  • Cash management
  • Marketable securities management
  • Accounts receivable management
  • Inventory management
  • Types of short-term credit
  • Short-term credit management
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Other forms of restructuring
  • Fixed, flexible, and floating exchange rates
  • Managing transaction exposure
  • Financing international trade

Decision Analysis (25% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Breakeven analysis
  • Profit performance and alternative operating levels
  • Analysis of multiple products
  • Sunk costs, opportunity costs, and other related concepts
  • Marginal costs and marginal revenue
  • Special orders and pricing
  • Make v buy
  • Sell or process further
  • Add or drop a segment
  • Pricing methodologies
  • Target costing
  • Elasticity of demand
  • Product life-cycle considerations
  • Market structure considerations

Risk Management (10% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Types of risk
  • Risk identification and assessment
  • Risk mitigation strategies
  • Managing risk

Investment Decisions (10% – Levels A, B, and C)

  • Stages of capital budgeting
  • Incremental cash flows
  • Income tax considerations
  • Evaluating uncertainty
  • Net present value
  • Internal rate of return
  • Payback
  • Comparison of investment analysis methods
  • Professional Ethics (15% – Levels A, B, and C)
  • Moral philosophies and values
  • Ethical decision making
  • IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice
  • Fraud triangle
  • Evaluation and resolution of ethical issues
  • Organizational factors and ethical culture
  • IMA’s Statement on Management Accounting, “Values and Ethics: From Inception to Practice”
  • Ethical leadership
  • Legal compliance
  • Responsibility for ethical conduct
  • Sustainability and social responsibility