The Long Road To Becoming a CMA

Mark&Angel 1After having my CPA license and having worked as an IT associate auditor, my interest was to have a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) since it is related to my previous work. Then I met Angel Secerio, Jr. in LinkedIn and his company offered me to take the CMA exam. Without hesitation, I accepted the offer, which basically included everything from the program registration and membership, exam fees, being equipped with the official Wiley CMAexcel study materials, and until I completed the two-part exam.

It was an exciting and long journey for me to be able to complete the two part examination. It was a long journey because it took me one year to take the Part 2 after I conquered the Part 1 last October 2013.

The Part 1 was the most challenging to me since the CMA exam was an unfamiliar territory. Unlike the CPA Board exam, the CMA exam is administered online and has an essay section. I thought the essay portion would be a walk in the park so I did not bother to practice answering essay questions. However, the actual exam was not the case. I wasn’t able to answer all the questions properly in the allotted time due to lack of practice and time constraint. But by God’s grace, I was able to pass the Part 1 exam with a respectable score.

For the Part 2, my target exam date was on February 2014 but I became busy in the CPA review. Upon learning that there are changes in the 2015 syllabus, I decided to register for the Part 2 exam and had only two months to prepare. However, we decided with my co-authors in Applied Auditing to finish the textbook to be able to catch up with the next semester/trimester of some schools.

After finishing the book, I had only four days left to prepare for the CMA exam. Yes, four days! Due to time constraint, I was not able to read the last chapter of the CMA Reviewer and was not able to answer all the practice questions in the Wiley CMAexcel online test bank. Unfortunately, the topics discussed in the last chapter which I was not able to read came out in the actual exams – at least 5 items in the MCQ portion and one sub-question in the Essay portion.

Mark 1Do you think four days of review is enough to hurdle the Part 2 exam?

I would humbly say yes. But looking inside, my preparation actually started way back in college when I was still a student until I myself handled review subject on Management Advisory Services for two semesters, and those four days was only my formal preparation.

In my journey, I have learned the following important lessons:

  1. Foundation is extremely important. Master the concepts.
  2. Time management is critical. Allot more time for preparation. Practice a lot. Avoid cramming.
  3. Try to read everything. The topic you may not be able to read may be asked in the exam.
  4. Believe in yourself. Always be optimistic. Worrying does not solve anything.
  5. Sometimes the road can be long and seemingly never ending, but never give up on your dreams.
  6. Prayer definitely helps.

Now, the wait for the delivery of the illustrious CMA Certificate has begun. To God be the Glory!


The author, Mark Alyson Ngina, is a BSA graduate at the University of the Cordilleras in 2009. He placed 7th in the May’10 CPA Board Examination, and recently completed his CMA Program requirements this year. He is currently a CPA Reviewer at the Nation’s Foremost CPA Review, and concurrently a CMA Reviewer at Insights Financial Review Services. He is a co-author of Applied Auditing, 2015 edition.

Never Give Up!

Happy New Year!!!_REV1

“Don’t ever give up on your dreams!”

It’s a cliché that we always hear from people around us whenever our resolve is getting tested. Honestly, don’t we quickly retort by saying “it is easy for you to say it because you’re not the one involved”?

There were two recent major events in my life when I thought about giving up on my goals. I seriously considered hanging up the gloves.

In the late quarter of 2012 I started to doubt whether I would really be able to pass the last remaining part of the Uniform CPA Examination, Regulation. Could I really get this U.S. CPA title that I longed so much for? How could I pass Regulation when nothing seemed to click as I studied the lessons? It was a battle of will as I recalled it, and in each of the several instances I almost snapped and said I’ve had enough of this. I postponed my exam and repaid the fees for the second (gladly the last) time for a date in Feb’13.

God listens. God sees what we’re going through. He acts when He sees you’re about to give up. And His timing is impeccable.

I got my rhythm, and interest in studying, back and notched the much needed victory, passing Regulation on my first take. At last, the “light at the end of the tunnel has revealed its awesome radiance”, and so I wrote. I earned my U.S. CPA license under the Colorado State Board of Accountancy.

After more than 16 months of slump, things weren’t still going as planned for Insights. The load had become heavier and heavier each month, as the last ounce of invested capital and savings had reached the bottom slack of the drum. There was nowhere else to go if the last promotional project didn’t deliver. Should we pull out now while we could, or do we “die” trying? My wife exclaimed “You don’t give up on your dream. We keep digging!” These were the words that fueled us to press forward. And we’re just so glad we did, because we closed out year 2014 with a very respectable passing percentage at 61 CMA exam parts passed out of 71 exam parts taken. God willing, it looks like we’re on our way to producing top performers (worldwide) in the last testing window of 2014!

It is easy to realize what resilience, hard work, and faith in God can bring about in a person’s quest for victory. God’s Mighty hand will be there to bless you each step of the way if you dedicate your deed toward helping others.

If you don’t see the path that leads you to your destiny, start building the road that leads you to your goal NOW. And as you do, always remember that “The road to success is not straight. There is a curve called Failure, a loop called Confusion, speed bumps called Friends, red lights called Enemies, caution lights called Family. You will have flat tires called Jobs, but if you have a spare called Determination, an engine called Perseverance, a driver called Will Power, you will make it to a place called SUCCESS.

Just as when you thought of giving up, always remember that your dream deserves another chance.

May you all have a prosperous 2015!

Leap of Faith

RECAÑA, EIRVIN KINGBefore I started my journey on becoming a CMA I was a bit lost. I graduated with a course in BSBA Major in Management Accounting, but I felt that I lacked the competency to start working and apply what I have learned in college.

Right after graduation, I thought about applying for a job and so I prepared a resume. I compared it with my colleagues’. At that moment, I felt I needed something more if I wanted to be more competitive; something that would give me an edge, and rise up from the competition. And when I knew that I was qualified to take the CMA examinations, I heavily considered it.

After browsing through the internet, I learned that the CMA credential is the edge I was looking for. The CMA Program demonstrates mastery of the critical accounting and financial management skills needed on the job today. Now that’s what I’ve always wanted. Help the company make better plans and better decisions.

“Am I capable enough to do this?” I asked myself. Doubt started to kick in. But at that moment, I decided to take a leap. I told myself that I can do this. And with the help of Insights Financial Review Services, the support of my family and colleagues, I made it. I passed the CMA examinations.

It was not an easy journey; it forced me to change my old habits, set my priorities straight, and sacrifice short term happiness. But after knowing the results I knew that it was all worth it. I realized that I may not be the best of students during college, but with the right tools and the right mindset, even students like me can turn around and change for the better.

Eirvin King Recaña_USTAs early as now I can see the fruit of this hard work. I have been appointed as the Vice President for Student Affairs of the IMA Philippines local Chapter. I have been meeting new friends during our school tours at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, University of San Carlos in Cebu City and, most recently, at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, South of the Mindanao archipelago. It’s all FUN, FUN, FUN, as we conducted CMA orientation to bring awareness to schools and students all across the country about the value of an internationally recognized accounting credential.

I am just so glad to have embarked on this CMA journey. I am glad I chose to believe in myself. A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because SOMEONE ELSE thought they could. I am so blessed to have been one of them.

I take this opportunity to thank everyone who had been with me as I played this chapter of my life. I want to thank Insights Financial Review Services for making sure that I was equipped to pass before taking the exams; for believing that I CAN; and to my colleagues, friends and loved ones, for the endless support.

Above all unto God, the giver of all hope, and the one true God who makes everything perfect in His time.

Eirvin King Recaña at HyattLife as they say may be a step by step process, but every once in a while, we must be willing to take a leap, jump into unknown territories, if we wanted to grow as a person.


The author, Eirvin King Recaña, is a 2014 Management Accounting graduate at De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, and scored 430/500 in both Parts 1 and 2 in the June and October, 2014 CMA examinations.

He is now a 5th year BSA student at La Consolacion College, intending to take the CPA board examination in 2016.


A Chapter in My Life: The Road to Becoming a Certified Management Accountant

Rhad Vic EstoqueOur school received an invitation from Insights Financial Review Services for the First-Ever CMA Quiz Bowl in the Philippines. The categories included competition for graduating students, non-graduating 4th year students, and Faculty members. The prize included a full scholarship for the CMA exam including the privilege to attend review classes at Insights located in Makati.

This was an opportunity that was too good to pass.

I joined the faculty category of the Quiz Bowl when it was held in March, 2014. By God’s grace I won; but winning was just the first big leap. Despite winning, I could not celebrate much because the pressure became “greater” than ever. More were at stake, proving myself by taking the CMA exams was the next big hurdle.

For me, taking the CMA exams means having myself take an exam on a field that I claim am expert of.  It was a very big risk to take because, personally, my reputation was at stake. The pressure was high, it was a make or break situation. One should understand where I’m coming from. I am a CPA Board Exam Reviewer, undergraduate in-house review coordinator and reviewer, and graduate school teacher in the field Management Accounting and Financial Management. If I fail, there is a possibility that my superiors and future students would question my credibility to teach the subject. Failing was not an option.

To reach greater heights, I had to leave my comfort zone. Risk it all.

Preparing for the CMA exams was the most difficult part. I had to juggle the pressures of work and the demands of studying. You see the nature of my work is a bit complicated. In the university, I regularly teach in the undergrad, perform my duties as Program Chair and CPA Review Coordinator, and teach in the undergrad CPA review. As a freelance reviewer, I regularly teach in CPA review schools in Baguio City and nearby provinces. When I was preparing for the Part 2 exams, I had to go to Thailand for 2 weeks to teach in the Graduate School. And aside from the teaching work, I regularly go to office as a corporate accountant.

First Quiz Bowl Champion_Rhad Vic EstoqueFinding time to study was a challenge. While my students were taking their periodic exams, I would be solving quizzers while proctoring them. All possible free time that I had was devoted for studying. No more watching television and hangout nights. It was either I worked or I studied. Self-discipline and time management were the key. If you want to achieve your dreams, you have to sacrifice; and sacrifice a lot. Time was a scarce resource when I was studying, so studying using the right materials was a must so as not to waste time.

Accuracy, Speed, and Endurance were the major areas that I had to develop for the CMA exams. Big thanks to Sir Angel for helping me attain them and mentoring me. For pushing me when I got exhausted. For encouraging me when I got frustrated during the time I failed to attain my targets. Sir Angel was very generous enough to provide his resources, the voluminous set of study questions and pre-board exams; the online simulated exams; the audio books that I used to listen while driving; for providing me the proper materials to study.

In addition to the resources provided by Sir Angel, I had to do additional internet research and went back to reading textbooks for further reading. I had to use all possible resources in preparing for the CMA exams. On a personal note, it was better to over prepare.

Insights CMA Scholar_Rhad Vic EstoqueFor me taking the CMA exams was easy. It was easy because I prepared for it. I sacrificed a lot. It was more than I sacrificed for, it was more than worth it. Having the letters CMA added to my name is a dream come true.

But before any of the series of events that led to my journey of becoming a CMA, I prayed first. God planned and placed all the people and resources for me to become a CMA. It was part of His grand plan from the day I was born. It was not by chance, but it was His plan. Right after taking the CMA exams, I claimed the illustrious three-lettered credential “CMA”. I claimed it in God’s name.

To God be the glory!


The author, Rhad Vic Estoque, CPA, MBA, CMA, is one of the lead CMA instructors of Insights Financial Review Services. He is currently the Vice President for External Affairs of IMA Philippines, and teaches both undergraduate and post-graduate students in the area of Management Accounting and Financial Management, among others.

My CMA Story

Rein Belarmino_JPGWhen I was still an accountancy student, there was only one thing I was certain that I needed to do after graduating from that course and that was to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

As time passed many of my professors are sharing more career opportunities for us students that we can take aside from the CPA title. Out of all their suggestions, there is that one thing that struck me most and that is the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) title.

There are only two things that I knew about this certification. First, it is an international certification for us accountants and second, it takes a huge chunk of investment to pursue this title. Despite all the reasons of not taking this course, I am still determined and planned to take this when I get 28 to 30 years old in order for me to save some money.

After my graduation, I prepared for our review for our CPA examinations. It was also during this time that I heard from my friends that a CMA quiz bowl will be held in Baguio City sponsored by the Insights Financial Review Services, and that the winner will have a free scholarship in taking the CMA review and examination. Having heard of it, I immediately confirmed and processed my papers for me to join in this event.

To be honest, I was not after the scholarship but just to gain experience on how a CMA exam would look like. And yes, I can now say that it is more challenging than the usual.

The results of the quiz bowl were released, but unfortunately I was not included in the list but at least I got the experience of taking the examination and I thought that somehow I know now what to prepare if I will be taking the actual examination in the future.

For some time, my friends who also took the quiz bowl informed me that Sir Angel Secerio, Jr., managing director of Insights Financial Review Services Inc., offered us to take the CMA exams together with our CPA exams.

It was like a blessing from God that He touched Sir Angel’s heart to offer to us this great opportunity that even though I was not included in the list, Sir Angel still offered me to pursue this examination. I informed my parents about this and they too were happy for me but we are still lingering on the cost of taking the examination. I discussed it with Sir Angel and was told that they are flexible about the payments and their main goal is that to help us students who are gearing towards that prestigious title.

Having heard of this and with the permission from my parents, I agreed and confirmed that I will be taking the challenge of taking both the CPA and CMA exams in October 2014.

While having our review for our CPA exams, Insights is also backing us up with additional resources for us to study. During weekdays, they will be giving us online quizzes for us to answer and during weekends we got the chance to attend the actual review class in their review center.

It was hard to maintain my focus for the two examinations but in each moment that I thought I may fail on either of the examinations, Sir Angel was there to cheer us up, coach us and to push us to use our reserve energy.

I took first the CPA exams and by the grace of God I passed. Having accomplished the challenge to become a CPA, I still face an equally challenging battle and that was the CMA examination. After the CPA exams, we were immediately immersed in an intense 2 week review by Insights Financial Review to help us prepare for the CMA exams. I am grateful for Insights and the reviewers who helped us during the review weeks and for their time to share their knowledge to us.

Then came the CMA examination day, the feeling of support from Insights and Sir Angel were even more apparent. The examination was quite challenging especially the essay questions but I knew that Insights and Sir Angel would support us whatever the results would be.

Waiting for the result for 6 weeks was as daunting as taking the examination, and on December 12, 2014, an email came and confirmed that I passed the two-part CMA examinations.

I immediately thanked God for showering another blessing in my life. I also thanked my family for supporting me in my decisions. Lastly, I thanked Insights and Sir Angel for opening doors of opportunity and sharing this wonderful experience.

I never knew that the once only a dream was now a reality. Before I only dreamed of being a Certified Management Accountant but now with the help of the people who believed in me and continue to support me, I am now a Certified Management Accountant.

Everything I achieved came from God alone. And in everything that I do, His name alone may be magnified.

To Insights Financial Review Services and Sir Angel Secerio, Jr., I am forever grateful for helping me out to accomplish this milestone. May God continue bless your heart and all of your works. May you continue to help people in reaching and in bringing out their full potential.

This is my CMA journey. I hope that it will inspire you to strive harder and to believe that God will use events and people in our lives to accomplish His work. Continue to live and walk by faith. God bless you all!


The author, Reinerio Belarmino III, is a cum laude graduate of Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from Saint Louis University-Baguio. He is currently working as an Audit Associate at SyCip, Gorres, Velayo & Company (SGV & Co.), CPAs based in Makati, Philippines.

Never Too Young

HenriReflections take me to moments where I remember my five-year-old self handing over changes to customers from their small school supplies purchases from our humble store, how I meddled with conversations over negotiations on mom’s and dad’s sales and purchases asking what are these and those, and how I had always gone to kindergarten with my big bag plus a big plastic container full of to-be-sold banana cues and barbeques my mom cooked early in the morning and would remit the proceeds after my class in the afternoon.

Those awesome business matters slowly revealed to me that Math – my favorite subject in my academic life – was all involved all throughout the process. And that my even more favorite subject – Management – was beginning to stir and kick it all in me.

These business ins and outs, idea generations, and operational improvements are the things I know I want and enjoy doing. Thanks to my Alma Maters, DWCB, and Saint Louis University (SLU)-Baguio for giving me so much opportunities to learn and to be in business case and business idea competitions.

These are my reasons why I wanted to be a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), not because it is a requirement for me to do these things, but is a license to open new doors for learning.

However, I did not know how to become one of the CMAs, and where to apply for it. These are the times then that God works. Sir Angel Secerio and the Insights Financial Review team came up with a CMA Quiz Bowl and my batchmates gave it a chance. It was free.

Emerging to be in the Top 75 of the Quiz Bowl, I was more interested to know what CMA was. I had simple e-mail conversations with Sir Angel, and in a short time, Sir Angel opened an opportunity for one of the credentials I was aching for: The CMA title.

I signified my big interest on the matter and had consulted with my parents. They all asked what it is and why it is needed. Debates filled our room and we finally came to a conclusion – both the CPA and CMA credentials are to be targeted and earned by October 2014.

Pressures and time demands from the CPA exam review made the CMA journey more difficult. Weekdays were for the CPA review in Sampaloc, Manila, and weekends were for the CMA review in Makati. Transportation was painful to the body and to the pocket, but all I thought was I entered this in the first place and I wanted it.

My friend from SLU – Reinerio Belarmino III, all my co-CPAs-turned-CMAs friends from DLSU – Dasmarinas, and all ates and kuyas who also reviewed were with me in the journey, and they all made the journey a lot easier.

The most critical point was reviewing for the CMA while waiting for the CPA results. All possible feelings were present – excitement, nervousness, anxiety; everything, even stomachaches.

Then the days came – October 28 and 31, 2014. All the nervousness sank in. I did not concentrate eating my breakfast because of the nervousness, and all I wanted was to have a good fight and finish the exam.

There were all sorts of complex security inspections, plus a hassle time processing your exams in the testing center. This was because I think it was a first that our batch was so big they did not expect such a number. But all these were part of it and I could never back out.

Four hours straight of multiple choice exams and essays for each of the two parts and you would just want to lie down and sleep after. The exam was so challenging, not to mention that the allowable calculator was just the basic one.

Audit work started early November for me and a morning e-mail check on December 12 made my day. I passed the CMA exams. Seriously, I passed both parts of the CMA Exam. Finally, I made it!

I told my family and my mom responded via SMS how happy and tearful she was when she read my text.

It takes just the right amount of determination, perseverance, and prayer, and the right coaching to get something you want. I never expected to get two titles by taking two exams in a single month. And when you get where you wanted, never forget to thank the people who pushed you to the top.

No one is too young or old for accomplishments. And no one is too young or old to learn something. We can never be discouraged if someone throws we are too young that we still do not know anything. Yes, there is so much to know, but there is also so much to share at a young age, especially our perspectives. If not now, then when do we start?

At 22, having the title was just the beginning. The rest of life must be spent contributing more greatly to the development of the world.


The author, Henri Lomeus N. Ching, is a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy graduate of Saint Louis University in Baguio. He is currently working as an Audit Associate at SyCip, Gorres, Velayo and Company (SGV), CPAs based in Makati, Philippines.