Finding that Opportunity To Rise
Michael John M. Cortez

I first learned about U.S. CMA program’s accessibility to Filipinos after noting that a few of my batchmates took and passed the exams right after the Philippine CPA exam.

I originally wanted to take CMA simply because MAS,  Finance,  and Economics were my favorite subjects in undergraduate. Eventually, as I gained real world experience,  I appreciated the value of deeply understanding how a business works, which is where CMA shines. Finding that opportunity to rise, it has then been my goal to pursue it once I can afford it.

That time came last June 23, 2019 when I enrolled my self to Insights for the weekend lectures and the WileyCMAexcel Gold online study course package. Given the audit workload in the weekdays, when overtime was still the norm, I just wanted to sleep after arriving home. This lasted until end of July, when I resigned from my job.

By August, I had a lot to catch up, primarily to start and finish most of the WileyCMAexcel lectures and start answering the challenging test banks. At the same time, I was sending job applications and attending interviews.

The CMA certification program pushed me to have a more comprehensive understanding of concepts than what the CPA’s Management Advisory Services portion required.

I first took the Part 2 exam in September 2019. Days before the exam, I had the same uneasy feeling as when I took the CPA exam 4 years ago. I told my self “Ano ba ‘tong pinasok ko [What have I gotten my self into].” During the exam proper though, I was calm. It really helped that the exam interface is almost identical to the WileyCMAexcel study materials. I ended the exam with 15 flagged multiple choice questions (MCQs).

For the month of October 2019,  I was left with the Part 1 exam, which I felt less confident of. I ended the exam with 19 flagged MCQs.

Results were out in December 2019 and the Insights team were very confident that I will get gold with my high scores. It became official this January 2020. I expected that I would pass but have not thought of getting the top score. In fact, I was only aiming to get at least 80 in MCQ, which is the passing score after I assumed that I can probably get at least 50% score in essay.

I have immediately realized the benefit of CMA as I was getting invited to interviews even more after it has become part of my name.

I am ecstatic that I’m currently processing my US visa for the IMA Annual Conference happening in Atlanta, Georgia, and another visa for my new job, for which CMA has helped one way or another.

I encourage students to take the CMA exam while topics are still fresh in your minds. It equips you with skills relevant to most career paths. At the same time, I urge accounting/finance professionals to take it, feasibly with each part in separate exam windows, or during transition between jobs, similar to what I did. It does open doors. I advise you to take it. You can pass it, but first “you’ve got to earn it.”


About the Author:

Michael John M. Cortez is a proud product of the University of Santo Tomas-Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy, graduating magna cum laude under batch 2015. He passed the Philippine CPA examination in October 2015, and took and passed the CMA examination in October 2019, garnering the highest average exam score worldwide. He will be heading to Atlanta this June 2020 to receive his Gold Medal award in front of 800+ other CMAs estimated in attendance on that day.