Updated on March 28, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Difference Between CFP and CMA

CFP is the abbreviation for Certified Financial Planner. It is a course that can be pursued by students who aspire to become financial planners in the future. CMA is the abbreviation for Certified Management Accountant. It can be accomplished by candidates willing to gain financial accounting and strategic management expertise.

Each choice a candidate makes in their career takes them nearer to their dreams. Since the appropriate option is critical, studying proper research is better to make the right decision. However, a hasty decision may waste a candidate’s precious time and effort to achieve their dream. We understand that. Therefore, let us help you to make the right career choice. Refer to two required courses for financial professionals that can help give the right direction to a career.


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What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

CFP or Certified Financial Planner is a certificate course for financial planners specializing in strategic financial planning or advisory roles in the financial services industry. The certificate is conferred upon by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) in the United States and by its affiliated body FPBS in India.

CFP is a mark of excellence recognized and respected globally by financial professionals. The course is designed to meet the stringent standards of education, examination, experience, and ethics to ensure that the individuals’ certified win employees’ trust and gain a plethora of opportunities after completing the course.

What is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA)?

The Certified Management Accountant is a professional certification in financial management and advanced accounting that qualifies a professional to mete out responsibility related to the arena which employers worldwide highly respect. A CMA acquires knowledge and skills in financial planning, analysis, control, decision support, and professional ethics.

The US-based Institute of Management Accountants awards the CMA certification. The CMA-certified professionals can work in industries like manufacturing and services, public and private enterprises, not-for-profit organizations, academic institutions, government entities, and MNCs.

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CFP vs CMA Infographics

Let us understand the difference between CFP vs. CMA with the help of infographics.


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Educational Requirements


The candidates must fulfill the 4E criteria to be certified as a CFP.

  • Education
  • Examination
  • Ethics
  • Experience

The minimum eligibility criterion for the CFP course is a graduate or bachelor’s degree or higher degree with a working knowledge of the financial planning practices prevalent in the industry.

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CFP vs CMA Comparative Table

A candidate requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university across the globe in any discipline to be deemed qualified for the CMA exam.

SectionCFP CMA
Organizing BodyThe Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board of Standards Inc., USA, organizes the exam. The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), USA, organizes the exam.
PatternThe course has only one level.The course is divided into 2 parts
  • Part I: Financial Planning, Performance & Analytics
  • Part II: Strategic Financial Management
Duration of CourseThe candidate can complete the course within three years. The candidate can complete the course within three years. However, most candidates complete the course in 12 to 18 months.
SyllabusThe syllabus revolves around
  • General Principles of Financial Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Education Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Retirement Savings & Income Planning
  • Tax Planning
  • Professional Conduct & Regulation
  • Risk Management & Insurance Planning


The course covers the following topics
  • Financial Reporting Decisions
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Planning, Budgeting & Forecasting
  • Corporate Finance
  • Performance Management
  • Cost Management
  • Internal Controls
  • Risk Management
  • Decision Analysis
  • Investment Decisions
  • Technology & Analytics
  • Professional Ethics
Exam FeesThe expenditure of the course may vary from $825 to $1,025, depending on the time of registration. The exam fees for early, standard, and late registration are $825, $925, and $1,025, respectively. The expenditure of the course for professional members is $1,080, including the exam fees of $415 per part with an entrance fee of $250. The cost is slightly lower for students at $810, including the exam fees of $311 per part and an entrance fee of $188.
JobsSome common profiles include: –
  • Estate Planner
  • Retirement Planner
  • Financial Manager
  • Risk Manager
Some common profiles include: –
  • Financial Risk Manager
  • Financial Consultant
  • Financial Analyst
  • Cost Accountant
  • Internal auditor
DifficultyThe exams are moderately difficult, as indicated by a historical pass rate greater than 60%. In 2019, the overall pass rate was 62%. In comparison, that for the first-timers was even higher at 66%. The exams are moderately difficult, as indicated by a historical pass rate greater than 60%. In 2019, the overall pass rate was 62%. In comparison, that for the first-timers was even higher at 66%.
Exam DateThe dates for the upcoming exams for the year 2022: –
  • Mar 08 – Mar 15
  • Jul 12- Jul 19
  • Nov 01- Nov 08


The dates for the forthcoming exams for the year 2022 (both Part I and Part II): –
  • Jan 01 – Feb 28
  • May 01 – Jun 30
  • Sep 01 – Oct 31

Why Pursue CFP?

CFP is the highest level of certification for a professional aiming to carve a niche in the financial industry and is appreciated worldwide by professionals and consumers. The certificate has been awarded the Gold Standard Award by the Wall Street Journal, which describes its credibility. In addition, the CFP candidates are remunerated with attractive salaries in investments, insurance, tax, retirement, and real estate.

Why Pursue CMA?

CMA is a globally recognized and accepted certification in the corporate world and is relevant for a professional who seeks to succeed in the business environment. The certified program’s visibility is increasing and is the most preferred choice to boost career prospects by professionals from the US, China, and the Middle East.

A CMA-certified candidate is eligible for higher positions in the company. The relevancy of the certified courses can be determined by the structure of the course and the practical lessons it imparts. The CMA curriculum is designed specifically to mirror real-world applications that are in practice in the financial and accounting sector. Hence, CMA designation holders are paid 58% higher compensation than their non-certified counterparts as indicated by IMA’s 2021 Global Salary Survey.

The candidates may also read this complete guide on CMA exams for further details.


Research is vital, considering the time and cost involved in pursuing these certification courses. However, it is better to be sure of the career goals, and the career boosts candidates are most likely to achieve before taking a plunge and registering for the exam.

This article has been a Guide to CFP vs CMA. Here, we discuss the differences between CFP and CMA, comparison, job opportunities, study hours with infographics, and a comparative table. You can learn more from the following articles: –

Reader Interactions


  1. Millie Kyler says

    I am a big fan of your blogs. And once again you came up with an awesome comparison. Great work! Keep sharing such useful posts.

  2. Alfie Riley says

    I really enjoy reading your articles. Specifically this is one of the relevant and good content that I have read till now, thanks for getting this knowledge out. Any guide or case study for Certified Financial Planner (CFP)? As I want to consider my career in CFP. Please share me the detail about CFP Exam

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks and I am happy to know that you enjoy reading my blogs, thanks for that. For more details on CFP, please go through this indepth article – CFP exam guide

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