The three musketeers.
I won't turn this into a bashing contest. Most CA's I talk to seem to have a superiority complex.
This is what any CA will tell you...CA>CMA>CGA
I will just give you a very, very brief breakdown about how to get each designation. You can easily do a google search if you want something more detailed.
To get a CA, you need to do your undergraduate in accounting in one of the CA approved institutions. Then, unless you come from Waterloo, you have the CKE and SOA. Everyone is required to write the challenging 3 day UFE and pass which marks the end of the formal education. You'll also be required to complete 3 years of training at a designated firm. Of those 3 years, you must have a certain number of hours in each field such as audit, tax, etc.
To get a CMA, you need to do your undergraduate consisting of the CMA required topics (this is a Bcomm for most people). Then you have to pass the CMA entrance examination and go through the strategic leadership program. In the strategic leadership program you will need to pass the case and group project. You will also need to have the work experience.
For a CGA, you will need an undergraduate in any field. There are about 2 years worth of CGA courses that you must take through correspondence. There is an extrance exam and usually 2-3 years of work experience.
Note there are exceptions to the exact requirements of each designation. But again, I won't waste your time with that. This information is easily found on google.
Today, I want to talk a little bit about the pros and cons of each designation.
Now the first thing, any CA seems to tell you is that CA> all. Is this necessarily true?
Out of the three designations, the CA is the most internationally recognized. The CFA which I will talk about in future posts is actually an even better international designation. But compared to the CMA or CGA, the CA is more internationally recognized and respected. There is no arguing here.
So if you are planing to work internationally, the CA will bring you more benefits than the other two. +1 point for the CA designation.
The CA designation also won't close down any doors for you in the corporate ladder. You can basically do everything the other two designations can do, and things like "signing off" which they cannot do. People at top heavy positions in companies also tend to be CA's which is why they want to continue to hire CA's.
Employers also like hiring CA's so much because they understand the training process. CGA's and CMA's can get their designation in a variety of ways. For CA's, 90% of the time, they did their articling experience in public accounting and prospective employers know that they can handle the pain of long hours when crunch time comes.
Think about it like this. CA's or CGA's may be better or worse trained than CA's. With a CA, you know what to expect especially Big 4 CA's. Sometimes prospective employers just need someone who can get the job done, and avoid gambling looking for a "diamond in the rough."
On average, CA's also tend to be paid more than CMA's and CGA's.
The major con of the CA designation is the time investment and torture you must go through to get it.
Also the fact that the CA designation is very narrow and focused in terms of what you do to acquire it. You do have a competitive edge over CMA's and CGA's in "some" areas, but not ALL. We are only talking about the top top level positions.
You get paid more than the CGA or CMA but you will pay your dues with much longer hours.
For a CGA designation, it is the easiest to get out of the three designations. On a cost benefit analysis, the additional boost in money you get compared to the time investment is very nice. If you have no interest in climbing the corporate public ladder, I highly recommend the CGA. It is a nice credibility booster. For example, if you start your own business, and you're attracting clients, the CGA is very nice. The work experience is also very broad. There are many different ways to fulfill this requirement as opposed to something like the CA for example
You are also allowed to audit in some provinces.
It is not as well respected as the other designations. Among the accounting world, CA's and CMA's tend to look down at CGA's. If you planning on climbing the corporate ladder, the CGA will put you in a less favourable light compared to a CA or CMA.
It is also the lowest compensated of the three designations.
A nice balance of two other designations. Not quite as hard as the CA designation. Much more respected than the CGA designation. You don't have to go through the CA articling "hell". Many people in top positions hold the CMA Designations. I like to think of the CMA's as the jack of all trades.
You get to work directly in industry and get much more interesting work. You are not specialized in accounting and auditing, but you understand enough about what needs to be done.
You can't sign off on audits. There are certain jobs that do require a CA, and you may be turned down for some positions in favour of a CA. For example, items like audit or tax, a CA will be more prefered to than a CMA.
If I were able to choose a free designation, I would pick the CA designation.
However, life is about opportunity costs. There is no point having a truck license if you only ever intend to drive a car. It is pointless to have a CA designation if all you need is a CGA designation or CMA Designation, or no designation at all. CA designation is the more respected and higher paid "on an average basis" but they also work longer hours and go through much harder material.
So, I will conclude by saying:
CGA: Very much acheivable. Any professional designation will give you a boost over the guy with just an undergraduate. On a cost-benefit analysis, I would highly recommend this designation if you haven't started any other designations. It is much more easier than the other designations. This is also for people who already finished university or are looking at changing fields. If you are just starting your university, I recommend one of the other two designations.
Advice: Ignore the CGA bashers most likely coming from CA students, or CA's. They hate their lives.
CMA: A very nice Jack of all trades designation. I like to think of this as an mini-MBA. You understand enough about industry to manage and do some damage. Highly respected, and you don't have to go through CA articling hell. If you know public accounting is not for you, consider this your choice if your just starting university.
Advice: Ignore the CMA bashers also likely coming from CA students, or CA's. They hate their lives.
CA: The "God" of the accounting designations. Be prepared to work extremely hard getting the designation. After you get it, the world is yours. Not really. You are more respected than CMA's and CGA's in many areas. Your average salary will also be higher. You can continue the CA superiority complex with your newly minted CA's and laugh at the CA's and CMA's.
Advice: Don't bash CMA's and CGA's cause you hate your life.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
The three musketeers.