Battle of the BIG 4s

WHAT   :               Battle of the Big 4s (CMA Quiz Bowl)

WHO     :               Big 4 Auditors (2 Years as such by competition day)

WHEN   :               0800 HRS on June 25, 2016

WHERE :               Makati


Calling all CPAs who are currently employed by any of the Big 4 firms in the Philippines for at least two years as at date of competition (i.e. June 25, 2016). You are invited to participate and represent your audit firm to the first-ever BATTLE OF THE BIG 4s CMA (Certified Management Accountant) Quiz Bowl happening this June.

The Institute of Management Accountants, or the IMA®, is one of the largest and most respected associations focused exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. It is a leading advocate for aligning accounting curriculum and continuing education with the complex business needs of today’s organizations. Towards the end of 2015, IMA membership has reached more than 85,000 worldwide. To date, the total number of active CMAs is close to 30,000. For the current fiscal year ICMA is poised to award more than 3,000 CMA certificates so far by the Fiscal Year ending June 2016, and more than 9,000 new candidates have joined the CMA Program this year.

The purpose of having this competition is to generate awareness among top Filipino CPAs who continue to develop world-class skills as accounting professionals on the value of earning a globally recognized accounting certificate, i.e. the CMA credential.  Around the world, CMAs earn about one-third more than their noncertified peers, according to IMA’s International Salary Survey. In the U.S., CMAs earn an average of 31% more in salary and 36% more in total compensation than those without certification. Despite the many economic factors beyond one’s control, accountants can achieve career advancement and earning potential through certification.

Evidenced by international employers’ preference on professionals holding the CMA title, the management accounting profession continues to evolve to meet the ever dynamic demands of business. Globalization necessitates that professional development in the Philippines must not be confined in preparing our professionals for local businesses but in the international business setting as well.

The Battle of the BIG 4s will simulate the CMA examination to be completed over four hours. It will contain 100 multiple-choice questions and 2 essay questions. Candidates will have three hours to complete the multiple-choice questions and one hour to complete the essay section.

For the essay questions, both written and quantitative responses will be required. Candidates will be expected to present written answers that are responsive to the question asked, presented in a logical manner, and demonstrate an appropriate understanding of the subject matter.

The topical areas covered in this competition are the following:

  • External Financial Reporting Decisions
  • Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting
  • Performance Management
  • Cost Management
  • Internal Control
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Corporate Finance
  • Decision Analysis
  • Risk Management
  • Investment Decisions
  • Professional Ethics


The top performers of the competition will win the following:

Gold medal winner – Full CMA program scholarship worth US$2,250

Silver medal winner – Partial scholarship (discount of 50% of the program fee)

Bronze medal winner – Partial scholarship (discount of 30% of the program fee)

4th and 5th placers – IMA professional membership fee worth US$245 each


In case the registered participants in this competition do not reach the minimum of 60 CPAs, the organizers reserve the right to accept CPAs employed by the other big auditing firms to garner a total of 100 participants. Each Big 4 firm may send in as many as 25 participants to the competition.


Registration shall be accepted from May 20th by submitting the following:

  1. Duly accomplished registration form
  2. Certificate of Employment duly signed by the HR Manager/Director of the Big 4 firm
  3. Copy of PRC ID
  4. Copy of TOR
  5. Copy of passport
  6. Professional profile photo

Registration will close on May 31st. If the number of participants does not reach the minimum required, other applications will be accepted until June 17.


The results will be announced on or before the first week of July, 2015. The top three winners agree to take the 2-Part CMA examination in the Sept/Oct’16 exam window.

For more details, please contact us at See you all at the competition!

CMA Passers

Finding My Confident Self Anew

Abuan - BarongWhen I started my CMA review, I never really expected that things would end up as good to me as it is right now.

Four years ago, I entered the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for my undergraduate degree. I enrolled at UST’s BS in Accountancy (BSA) program because I felt that it would be the shortest path to giving my family a better and more relaxing life. During my freshman year, life was unexpectedly simple and the classes were not as difficult as I thought they would be. Honestly, it was boring and uneventful. That all changed when the sophomore year started.

The sophomore year is probably the most stressful time in the life of a BSA student studying in UST. It was, after all, the time for the retention exam. The retention exam is the deciding factor whether a student can go on and continue his BSA degree or be transferred to the BS management accounting (BSMA) degree. During these times, I, like my peers, spent my time studying. I was burning my eyebrows just so I can pass this exam. Most of the time, I’m in the library reviewing. I would get up at 5:00 am in the morning then go to UST at around 6:30am just to get a good spot in the library. I would also go home late and wait until the closing of the library until I leave for home. It was harder than anything I have done before and the first year of college felt like it was just the calm before the storm. I formed study groups with my friends at school and still ended up studying alone at home.

After all that reviewing, the moment of truth came. The exam period started. Hundreds of students are taking the exam alongside me hoping to pass but only a fraction will have their hopes fulfilled. But inevitably, a huge fraction of the students will have their hopes crushed becoming mere casualties and failing. I took the exam, confident with the time I spent studying. The exam ran for hours without stop. And then it ended. I left the testing area nervous, contrary to when I entered.

When the announcement of results came, my worst fears became true. I was one of the aspirants who became a mere casualty. Just like hundreds of my fellow students, I failed. I had friends who passed I was really happy for them but the feeling of envy created a home inside my heart. And then it dawned on me. How can I tell my parents who worked so hard for my tuition that I failed? That was probably the hardest thing I ever told my parents. Fortunately, they weren’t mad and that they were really understanding. But the disappointment I felt from failing carried on until my junior year of college. Just like my freshman year, my junior year was uneventful except for added counseling and seminars. My junior year flew by in a flash. Things started to look up again when the senior year came. “Even though I’m no longer a BSA student but now I can graduate”, that was the thought that crossed my mind at the start of the first semester of senior year.

That thought changed when I entered a particular seminar.

The seminar was titled, “Uplifting the Professional Prowess: Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Seminar”. The thought that crossed my mind during that seminar was, “Graduation doesn’t seem to be the end”.

A new goal was before me. I’m going to become a CMA.

Being quite a pricey certification program, it took some time before I convinced my parents to allow me to enter the CMA Program. Thus, I started my journey as a CMA reviewee right after I graduated. The journey wasn’t easy that’s for sure; the lessons were very familiar but the type of questions discussed in class was at medium and advanced levels. But it was fun and rich in learning. The disappointment I felt during my junior year fueled my desire to obtain a professional certification title that has global recognition.

In my desire to get a job asap I registered for the 2-Part examination with just a little over three months of exam preparation. I accepted the challenge of the review school to register me for my Part 1 exam on Sept 29 and Part 2 exam on Oct. 30 of last year. While I knew that I would be facing two tough examinations with just about three and a half of preparation, I said to myself: “I can do this!”

Part 1 exam day came. Honestly, when I entered the examination room I was so nervous it felt like my knees had no strength. But this is the moment that everything I worked hard for must come to light. It took some time for me to calm myself down. But when I started the exam, I was confident and resolute. It was only when I went back home that I felt quite nervous.

Before the results of my first exam came out I had to take my second exam on Oct. 30th.  I was relatively calm before, during and after my Part 2 examination, largely because of having had the experience how to tackle the exam.

About 10 days after, the results of my first exam came out in November. I passed the Part 1 examination. A month afterwards I learned that I also passed my Part 2 examination! To my mind this was something I can truly be proud of for the rest of my life.

The feeling of hurdling past the two giants was overwhelming in that it restored back my confidence in myself. Truly you can never measure who you are and know your limit until you have been severely tested by adversity. People say there is no such thing as failure. That failure is just life trying to move us in another direction. I am convinced that failure can in fact help us become a better person if we learn from them.

I would like to thank my parents for believing in me. I thank University of Santo Tomas and my professors, and to Insights Financial Review and its team of capable instructors, for guiding me as I win back my confidence. To my Almighty God, the source of all wisdom and strength, thank you for this second chance.

To future aspirants I bid you good luck on your own CMA journey as I leave you with this quote: “You can fail at what you DON’T want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”


About the Author:  Edwin Robert R. Abuan is a Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting graduate at the University of Santo Tomas last June, 2015.