Proud To Be A Pinoy CMA

PinoyCMA CoverTo live in a third world country like the Philippines is both a blessing and a curse. There is the problem on poverty, graft and corruption, prostitution, human trafficking, and brain drain among others.

I am not being pessimistic. This is being real and there is a fine line that separates the two. I don’t even believe there is still the need to discuss these socio-economic problems one by one. It’s not like I want to focus on these negativities either. In fact, I am writing this out of the belief that there is beauty in the imperfection of this country – a beauty born from the socio-economic chaos that we are living in. Every coin has two sides, right?

Think of the Philippines as an obstacle course. How do we go through an obstacle? We strategize. We do what needs to be done in the manner we think that is most effective, right? Our daily experiences teach us to be strong-willed, adaptable, analytic, strategic, competitive, and more. We are trained to deal with obstacles and not back down. Not to mention that we Filipinos widely believe that we won’t be given a problem that we cannot handle. This is primarily the reason why many Filipinos stood out and stood strong wherever life has brought them.

Needless to say, to be in the field of accounting and finance in a third world country is much more challenging than it already is. The demand to recognize and address the continuous economic changes that take place every once in a while and deal with its uncertainties is much higher.

Looking to the brighter side, a challenging economic setting does to a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) what fire does to flame. It strengthens their competitiveness and hones their analytical skills. They become the kind of accounting and finance professionals our country and other countries need. This is clearly an advantage for Filipino CMAs because a competitive analytical skill honed by real-life experience gives them the ability to make well-informed critical decisions or advice.

To address the issue of economic uncertainties, many corporations are now focusing on re-evaluating their key performance indicators (KPI) to check whether it is still applicable to the current economic situation. Corporations are highly dependent on management accountants in doing this. The different States in the U.S., China, Europe and those countries in the Middle East, these are just a few countries that have abundant demands for CMAs with competitive analytical skills. With the small number of CMAs based in Asia, and proven analytical skills, CMAs are offered key positions in the business organization that pay above industry remuneration. Coupled with diligence and hard work, it is clearly another advantage for Filipino CMAs.

Besides competitive analytical skills, another edge of Filipino CMAs is their world-class academic training and good communication skills. Philippine accounting education is patterned to the U.S. curricula and has continuously evolved to adapt its focus to what is currently in demand in the international market.

Based on a survey done by IBM and BBC, Filipinos have the most neutral accent in the world. No wonder we can speak English as if it is our own language. This crucial factor gives us the distinct advantage of minimizing the language barrier between foreigners and us Filipino accountants in our quest to deliver sound and learned professional advice.

Since Filipinos have embraced a Westernized lifestyle, fashion, and way of communication, it makes it easier for other people from all over the world to communicate with us.

Simply put, the corporate world needs Filipino CMAs. You just have to be the kind of CMA that these companies and corporations are looking for.  Doors to greater career opportunities that break geographical barriers will always be yours for the taking.

Pinoy CMAs, go forth as you aspire for excellence.

A Journey Blessed By God

Profile Photo_Eddie GoLife is full of unexpected turns.  In my case, I reluctantly gave up my professional accounting career after a brief stint as staff auditor at one of the premier auditing firms in the Philippines in obedience to my parent’s wishes.  It would be a twenty-year wait before I would return to the corporate world as an accountant in 2009.  I believe God had planned all this for me after all. 

2009 was the year when my CMA journey actually started.  Though I had then often observed with envy that young professionals nowadays have multiple credentials in the form of acronyms annexed to their names, such as CPA, CMA, CFA, CFE, among others, I just wished hard that I could return to my younger days to add at least one of these prestigious credentials to my name but sadly I did not take the necessary steps to pursue that desire.

It was only in December 2013 when I was blessed enough to become connected via LinkedIn with Mr. Angel Secerio Jr., to whom I had communicated my not-so-wholehearted decision to take the CMA exam by September/October 2014.  The reason for setting a long time frame for my exam preparation was because I actually wanted to take my review at a very leisurely pace.  However, like a true angel who happens to be a CMA, Angel seems gifted in forecasting.  His email response expressed concern over the long time frame I have set for myself and encouraged me to take the exam earlier, otherwise (reading between the lines) I might lose interest.

Fast forward four months, my review was so inconsistent that by then I had only finished reading less than 15 percent of the two-part reviewer I borrowed from a friend.  It was about this time, March 20, 2014 to be exact, that Angel wrote me asking how my review was going and introduced me to the Wiley CMAexcel study material.  I was very reluctant to buy the Wiley CMAexcel Learning System as it was quite expensive that it took me a full month to decide to purchase the material.

With the newly-bought Wiley material and with Angel’s vote of confidence, I resolved to push myself harder to be more consistent with my review.  To achieve this, I registered for part 1 and part 2 exams on June 24, 2014.  Registration for both exams on the same day created a lot of doubts in my mind.  What if I am not ready by exam day?  I also have to consider my work, which requires my full attention six days a week.  Backing out should never be an option.

For the next eight weeks until exam date, I devoted an average of 2 ½ hours daily to the study of the Wiley CMA materials including answering all multiple choice questions, reading the electronic textbook and doing a few practice exams.  Wiley is indeed well-worth its price as it has a more organized and comprehensive text with in-depth and clear explanations of all the terms and concepts I needed to learn, plus a test bank of over 2,000 MCQs.  Furthermore, Wiley’s practice exams gave me a feel of what the actual exam experience will be like.

The exam day, June 24, 2014, arrived so fast; my two months of intensive study including taking the two-part exams itself seemed like a complete blur.   Incidentally, the first person I informed after taking the CMA exams was Angel.  Not surprisingly, when the result came out in August 12, 2014 the first to congratulate me for passing the exams was no other than Angel.

With this newly-obtained CMA designation, opportunities are literally opening before my very eyes despite my age.  I guess there’s truth in the saying “where there is life, there is hope” and the expression “better late than never”.  I could have regretted not taking that critical first step earlier.

Bronze Medal_CMAEverything works out in God’s perfect time even though the unexpected turns may initially appear to be a complete deviation from one’s well-laid plans. When God appoints that it is time, He blesses us abundantly of even things that we do not ask for. The picture is testament to God’s faithfulness insofar as my CMA exams experience is concerned.

To God be the glory.  Now the journey continues on.

About the author – Eddie Ong Go is a Filipino CPA currently working as Asst. Vice President-Control in one of the biggest department stores chain in the Philippines. He was a topnotcher in the Philippine CPA board examinations in 1986, and recently bagged the bronze medal award in the May/June 2014 CMA examinations.