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CMA Exam Outline

This outline was updated on March 2021 based on the IMA's published CMA outline. Always check the IMA's Content Specification Outline and Learning Outcome Statement on the IMA's website to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.

Part 1 - Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics

Section Percentage Level
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

Section Percentage Level
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

Section A. External Financial Reporting Decisions (15% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Financial statements
    1. Balance sheet
    2. Income statement
    3. Statement of changes in equity
    4. Statement of cash flows
    5. Integrated reporting
  2. Recognition, measurement, valuation, and disclosure
    1. Asset valuation
    2. Valuation of liabilities
    3. Equity transactions
    4. Revenue recognition
    5. Income measurement
    6. Major differences between U.S. GAAP and IFRS

Section B. Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting (20% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Strategic planning
    1. Analysis of external and internal factors affecting strategy
    2. Long-term mission and goals
    3. Alignment of tactics with long-term strategic goals
    4. Strategic planning models and analytical techniques
    5. Characteristics of a successful strategic planning process
  2. Budgeting concepts
    1. Operations and performance goals
    2. Characteristics of a successful budget process
    3. Resource allocation
    4. Other budgeting concepts
  3. Forecasting techniques
    1. Regression analysis
    2. Learning curve analysis
    3. Expected value
  4. Budgeting methodologies
    1. Annual business plans (master budgets)
    2. Project budgeting
    3. Activity-based budgeting
    4. Zero-based budgeting
    5. Continuous (rolling) budgets
    6. Flexible budgeting
  5. Annual profit plan and supporting schedules
    1. Operational budgets
    2. Financial budgets
    3. Capital budgets
  6. Top-level planning and analysis
    1. Pro forma income
    2. Financial statement projections
    3. Cash flow projections

Section C. Performance Management (20% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Cost and variance measures
    1. Comparison of actual to planned results
    2. Use of flexible budgets to analyze performance
    3. Management by exception
    4. Use of standard cost systems
    5. Analysis of variation from standard cost expectations
  2. Responsibility centers and reporting segments
    1. Types of responsibility centers
    2. Transfer pricing
    3. Reporting of organizational segments
  3. Performance measures
    1. Product profitability analysis
    2. Business unit profitability analysis
    3. Customer profitability analysis
    4. Return on investment
    5. Residual income
    6. Investment base issues
    7. Key performance indicators (KPIs)
    8. Balanced scorecard

Section D. Cost Management (15% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Measurement concepts
    1. Cost behavior and cost objects
    2. Actual and normal costs c. Standard costs
    3. Absorption (full) costing e. Variable (direct) costing
    4. Joint and by-product costing
  2. Costing systems
    1. Job order costing
    2. Process costing
    3. Activity-based costing
    4. Life-cycle costing
  3. Overhead costs
    1. Fixed and variable overhead expenses
    2. Plant-wide vs. departmental overhead
    3. Determination of allocation base
    4. Allocation of service department costs
  4. Supply chain management
    1. Lean resource management techniques
    2. Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
    3. Theory of Constraints
    4. Capacity management and analysis
  5. Business process improvement
    1. Value chain analysis
    2. Value-added concepts
    3. Process analysis, redesign, and standardization
    4. Activity-based management
    5. Continuous improvement concepts
    6. Best practice analysis
    7. Cost of quality analysis
    8. Efficient accounting processes

Section E. Internal Controls (15% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Governance, risk, and compliance
    1. Internal control structure and management philosophy
    2. Internal control policies for safeguarding and assurance
    3. Internal control risk
    4. Corporate governance
    5. External audit requirements
  2. System controls and security measures
    1. General accounting system controls
    2. Application and transaction controls
    3. Network controls
    4. Backup controls
    5. Business continuity planning

Section F. Technology and Analytics (15% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Information systems
    1. Accounting information systems
    2. Enterprise resource planning systems
    3. Enterprise performance management systems
  2. Data governance
    1. Data policies and procedures
    2. Life cycle of data
    3. Controls against security breaches
  3. Technology-enabled finance transformation
    1. System development life cycle
    2. Process automation
    3. Innovative applications
  4. Data analytics
    1. Business intelligence
    2. Data mining
    3. Analytic tools
    4. Data visualization

Part 2 - Strategic Financial Management

Section A. Financial Statement Analysis (20% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Basic financial statement analysis
    1. Common size financial statements
    2. Common base year financial statements
  2. Financial ratios
    1. Liquidity
    2. Leverage
    3. Activity
    4. Profitability
    5. Market
  3. Profitability analysis
    1. Income measurement analysis
    2. Revenue analysis
    3. Cost of sales analysis
    4. Expense analysis
    5. Variation analysis
  4. Special issues
    1. Impact of foreign operations
    2. Effects of changing prices and inflation
    3. Impact of changes in accounting treatment
    4. Accounting and economic concepts of value and income
    5. Earnings quality

Section B. Corporate Finance (20% - Levels A, B, and C)

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

Section C. Decision Analysis (25% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Cost/volume/profit analysis
    1. Breakeven analysis
    2. Profit performance and alternative operating levels
    3. Analysis of multiple products
  2. Marginal analysis
    1. Sunk costs, opportunity costs, and other related concepts
    2. Marginal costs and marginal revenue
    3. Special orders and pricing
    4. Make vs. buy
    5. Sell or process further
    6. Add or drop a segment
    7. Capacity considerations
  3. Pricing
    1. Pricing methodologies
    2. Target costing
    3. Elasticity of demand
    4. Product life-cycle considerations
    5. Market structure considerations

Section D. Risk Management (10% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Enterprise risk
    1. Types of risk
    2. Risk identification and assessment
    3. Risk mitigation strategies
    4. Managing risk

Section E. Investment Decisions (10% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Capital budgeting process
    1. Stages of capital budgeting
    2. Incremental cash flows
    3. Income tax considerations
    4. Evaluating uncertainty
  2. Capital investment analysis methods
    1. Net present value
    2. Internal rate of return
    3. Payback
    4. Comparison of investment analysis methods

F. Professional Ethics (15% - Levels A, B, and C)

  1. Business ethics
    1. Moral philosophies and values
    2. Ethical decision making
  2. Ethical considerations for management accounting and financial management professionals
    1. IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice
    2. Fraud triangle
    3. Evaluation and resolution of ethical issues
  3. Ethical considerations for the organization
    1. Organizational factors and ethical culture
    2. IMA’s Statement on Management Accounting, “Values and Ethics: From Inception to Practice”
    3. Ethical leadership
    4. Legal compliance
    5. Responsibility for ethical conduct
    6. Sustainability and social responsibility

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