Becoming a U.S. CMA Exam Passer amidst the Pandemic

Angel John F. Geronimo
UST BSA Batch 2020

As a fresh accountancy graduate, my road to becoming a CMA was eventful and eye-opening. My CMA journey started interestingly different from the batches before me, I was part of the “new normal”. We did not have classes on site.

Virtual classes were different from having classes on site. I missed the constant support from peers whenever meeting in the hallway and constant review sessions in preparation for the exams. These were practices which I was accustomed to in my collegiate years.

Normal life became very repetitive. My normal days became a routine of eating, studying, sleeping, and occasional catching up with friends. The situation made it hard for me to constantly perform at my best.

Despite all of these, I was still able to become a U.S. CMA Exam passer. This is all thanks to my family and friends who constantly checked on me and supported me. Most importantly. I am grateful for Insights for helping me prepare for my exams.

The CMA journey was very helpful to me as it helped me look beyond the numbers in accounting. It helped sharpen my analytical and decision-making skills which would surely be helpful in my professional life. This is an experience I would like to recommend for everyone.

About the Author

Angel John F. Geronimo (AJ), born June 13, 1999, graduated with latin honor of cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas. He participated in multiple organizations during his university days allowing him to find the perfect balance between academics and extra-curriculars. Last September-October testing window, AJ took the U.S. based Certified Management Accountant Examination where he passed with one of the top scores in the Philippines.

AJ is the youngest of the family of achievers, his eldest brother being a CPA Lawyer and the other being a medical doctor.  His parents are likewise achievers, her mother being a cum laude graduate, a CPA and a Doctor in Education while his father is the head of a private educational institution.

What Do Companies Look For In Accountants?

view of a team of business executives sitting at a tableAccountants are usually associated with number crunchers who spend their days at their desks buried under piles of paperwork and endless numbers. Naturally, companies that hire accountants require serious skill and knowledge. But it takes a lot more than that to become the kind of accountant that companies are looking for.

Some people automatically assume that all it takes to impress accounting firms and various other companies is a high CPA exam score. While that is certainly a plus, companies are looking for a lot more than technical skill and knowledge. Nowadays, companies are realizing that their businesses involve dealing with people and they should be more like consultants who are able to deal with a wide range of clients. Basically, companies are looking for accountants who have a different set of skills, such as the following:

1. Good ethics. As an accountant, you have to keep certain issues confidential. Companies want their clients to trust them, and you should exemplify that. You may also be expected to face ethical dilemmas every now and then, and your response to such incidents should be one of professionalism and trustworthiness.

2. Ability to learn and adapt. The field of finance and accounting is changing, and you should be able to keep up with such changes, stay on top of trends in your field, and learn new things so you can bring something different to the table for your clients and for the company you work for.

3. A positive, pleasant personality. You may need to deal with clients directly. As accountants can make some people wary, you have to show interest in your client and be able to discuss things easily and in a way that they can easily grasp. You’re one of the faces of the company, in fact.

4. Detail-orientedness. Accounting involves numerous details, and you need a good eye for detail to make sure that every detail adds up and there are no discrepancies.

5. Motivation and enthusiasm. You have to be passionate about the industry. This paves the way towards something even higher for your career as an accountant.


Studying For The Uniform CPA Exam

studying for an examNo matter how old you are or how much you’ve achieved in your career, the prospect of sitting for an exam continues to be a nervewracking idea. Can you remember how nervous you used to get every time your teacher would announce a pop quiz, or when you were about to take final exams? How about the times when you took entrance exams for college?

Every test you ever took in your life was a challenge because it signified whether or not you would be able to move on to the next level.

So imagine just how important the CPA exam is. Whether you pass or not determines whether you are a certified accountant and are therefore able to work as one. It also signifies that you have a thorough understanding of the relevant concepts that will allow you to do your job properly.

The CPA exam consists of four sections, namely, FAR (Financial Accounting and Reporting), AUD (Auditing), REG (Regulation), and BEC (Business Environment and Concepts). You can take these sections in any order; the important thing is that you finish all four within 18 months from the time you receive your first passing mark. Make sure to use your time wisely and try some useful tips to help you while studying for the CPA exam.

1. Organize. Get your study materials in order, and establish a sound schedule which you will follow as you study for the CPA exam. You also need to have a separate notebook because you will want to take notes as you review. Keep those notes handy for when you’re elsewhere, say, waiting to meet someone or standing in a long line at a coffee shop, and read them–much better than lugging around countless books to peruse.

2. Prioritize. You need to start reading a certain chapter. But there’s also that cool new movie you’ve been wanting to catch. At this point, the important question is whether watching the movie is more important to you or if acing the CPA exam is your priority.

3. Take practice tests. Practice tests can help you determine your weak points and which topics you still need to focus on.

4. Be flexible. Sometimes you get to stick to your study schedule, sometimes you don’t. If you’re a very busy person with a lot of responsibilities, emergencies might pop up every now and then. Handle those emergencies if no one else can, and then go right back to studying. There will always be important things that could derail your study schedule. Acknowledge that they could happen, and when they do, remember that all you need to do is to get right back in the saddle and continue reviewing.

5. Enjoy a change of scenery. If you’ve been studying in the same place for months, it might feel like it’s torture every time you have to go there. Get fresh air and a new perspective by studying in different places every now and then.

6. Taking time out to rest is important throughout the entire review process. If you give yourself a few hours each day to study, you should also give yourself regular breaks. You won’t be able to retain any information if you’re already exhausted, and you certainly won’t get any studying done if you wear yourself out to the point of getting sick.

Finally, while you’re studying for the CPA exam, don’t focus your mind on the possibility that you will fail. Yes, that possibility may still exist no matter how hard you prepare. But keep in mind that you always have the option to take it again–and do better!

Small businesses and accountants

bakeryownerSmall business owners are on the rise nowadays, and this shows that more people are ready to seize their future and offer unique products and services. Of course, running a small business is never easy. You have to take care of every single detail: meeting with clients and suppliers, coming up with new concepts for your company, marketing, perhaps even making every single product from scratch. If you have employees, you have to make sure they’re paid properly, that they have all the right benefits, and you need to manage the whole team correctly, too. With all the details that demand the attention of a small business owner, it’s easy to just want to give up, and it’s normal to make mistakes every now and then.

One aspect in which business owners should never ignore is the financial aspect. You started a business in the first place either to break away from the rat race, to do what you really love, and to make a good living out of doing what you love. That involves keeping track of every single cent that comes in and out, paying your taxes on time, and ensuring that your money isn’t running out.

Many small business owners opt to handle their finances by themselves. With the advent of financial software and even financial apps, more people are starting to feel like they have the necessary skill to manage their capital and finances. On a very small scale, such software may be recommended. However, given all the tasks you have to deal with, it is still worthwhile to work with an accountant who can stay on top of your finances. An accountant is your partner in making sure you have the best financial strategy and that you are spending your money wisely, helping you make sure that you’re saving as much money as possible.

An accountant who works with small business owners should know about information that is relevant to small businesses. In addition, he or she should remember that not all people speak accounting jargon, and he or she should therefore be able to explain tax laws and how he or she crunched the numbers in easy-to-understand terms. Most importantly, such an accountant should be willing to work with small businesses and not just with multi-million dollar enterprises. Accountants can help small businesses survive and thrive, which is very good for the economy in the long run.

An Infographic On Finance And Accounting Trends

The Intersect Group published an infographic that illustrates the current trends and issues involved in hiring finance and accounting professionals.

The Philippines will be part of the World Bank’s “green accounting” pilot project

Along with Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Madagascar, the Philippines will be the site of the pilot implementation of the World Bank’s “green accounting” or Natural Capital Accounting project. This project, called, Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) is

…a global partnership that aims to promote sustainable development by ensuring that the national accounts used to measure and plan for economic growth include the value of natural resources.

In this project, a country will measure and plan for economic growth while taking into consideration the value of its natural resources. The GDP is an inaccurate picture of environmental issues and concerns that take a toll on the economy, and WAVES hopes to address this by providing a more complete picture by taking into consideration the effects of development, mining, and other activities on the economy. Read more about this on

The Duties Of An Accountant And Auditor: an infographic by shares this helpful infographic on the duties of an accountant and auditor.

The Duties Of An Accountant And Auditor – Infographic by

Tax law loopholes let accountancy firms help the rich dodge taxes

Now here’s a definite no-no for accountants and would-be accountants. Tax avoidance is apparently a major issue in the UK, and accountancy firms themselves aren’t helping the problem. In fact, according to an interview with a UK professor for an article on PressTV:

…large accountancy firms responsible “are the epicenter of a global tax avoidance industry and the loss of tax revenues is directly responsible for the current economic crisis.

This is certainly not acceptable, and stronger measures have to be taken.

Have you ever worked with a client who asked you to help him or her find ways to get out of paying the correct taxes? What did you do and how did you handle such a situation? If you haven’t encountered this yet, what would you do if you were put in this position? Let us know in the comments!

Skills Every Accountant Should Have

121900825We all know that accountants are expected to be good with numbers; it’s the primary technical skill that one needs to even aspire to be an accountant in the first place.

If you’re pursuing a career in accountancy or even in the financial field in general, it is important for you to remember that you won’t be restricted to work that solely involves crunching numbers.

There are other skills and characteristics that you need to develop, too.

Analytical skills. These primary skills are the thought processes required to evaluate various information correctly and effectively. Examining a problem thoroughly requires attention to detail, perseverance and maintaining your focus. Decision making processes often require high level of analytical skills that allow top management to choose the best possible business solutions.

Communication and presentation skills. You won’t just be sitting in front of a computer all day. From time to time, you will be expected to go to meetings and update management on key financial issues that they have to address or meet with clients to inform them on the best financial strategies to adopt.

You have to be able to express yourself clearly and explain matters to others in simple, easy-to-understand terms; remember that not everyone you will talk to knows about every single finance-related term. After all, the objective of communication is not the transmission but the reception.

In any presentation task, the accountant should always remember that the average human being has a very short attention span and a million other things to think about. The accountant’s job in the presentation is to reach through this mental fog and to hold the attention long enough to make a point.

Ability and willingness to learn. It’s not enough for you to enter a job and expect to get by with the skills you already have. You need to remember that to move ahead in your career, you have to be ready to adopt new practices and embrace new knowledge. Learning new things will keep your skills fresh and ensure that you remain relevant at work.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE) is required for CPAs to maintain their professional competence and ensure that they are able to provide quality professional services. They are responsible for complying with all applicable CPE requirements, rules and regulations of state boards of accountancy, as well as those of membership associations and other professional organizations.

Computer skills. Aside from being able to use basic accounting software, you also need to use office program suites. Having knowledge of Internet skills and social media may also help you shine a spotlight on you as an industry professional.

Knowledge of relevant laws and regulations. Clients will be seeking your advice on any laws they need to be aware of when it comes to taxes or other related matters. You want to be able to provide answers quickly instead of fumbling for an explanation.

Some people might not value so-called soft skills too highly, but they are definitely necessary to help you advance in your career and be able to do your job well.

What accountants should know about becoming a CPA

Here’s an infographic entitled “What accountants should know about becoming a CPA” by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this information is US-centric, it’s definitely useful for those who are seeking US CPA certification. Click on the image to view the actual size.