Difference Between CFP and CMA

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

Each choice that you make in your career takes you nearer to your dreams. Since the right choice is so important for your future, it is better to study and research properly to make the right decision. A hasty decision may waste your precious time and efforts and can also cost you your dream. We understand this, so let us help you to make the right career choice. Read on to know about two very crucial courses for financial professionals that could help give them the right direction to their career.


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What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

CFP or Certified Financial Planner is a certificate course for financial planners who are looking to specialize in strategic financial planning or advisory role in the financial services industry. The certificate is conferred upon by the Certified Financial PlannerCertified Financial PlannerThe CFP credential is the most desired and respected global certification to demonstrate commitment to competent and ethical financial planning practice. An aspirant must pass a rigorous exam that assesses competency and adheres to a code of ethics, pledging to provide financial planning in clients' more 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 worldwide by the financial professionals. The course is designed to meet the stringent standards of education, examination, experience, and ethics to ensure that the individuals certified win the trust of employees and have a plethora of opportunities waiting for them 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 is highly respected by employers around the world. A CMA acquires knowledge and skills in financial planning, analysis, control, decision support, and professional ethics.

The CMA certification is awarded by the U.S based Institute of the Management Accountants. The CMA certified professionals are eligible to work in industries like manufacturing and services, public and private enterprises, not-for-profit organizationsNot-for-profit OrganizationsA not-for-profit organization refers to a legal entity that isn't created to generate profits or revenue for its owners but aims at social, educational, religious or public welfare and service. Such an organization is tax-exempted and run through donations or any other income it more, academic institutions, government entities, and MNCs.

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CFP vs. CMA Infographics

Let’s understand the difference between CFP vs. CMA with 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 planningFinancial PlanningFinancial planning is a structured approach to understanding your current and future financial goals and then taking the necessary measures to accomplish them. Because this does not begin and end in a specific time frame, it is referred to as an ongoing more practices prevalent in the industry.

CFP vs. CMA Comparative Table

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

SectionCFP CMA
Organizing BodyThe exams are organized by the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board of Standards Inc., USA. The exams are organized by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), USA.
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 course can be completed within a span of 3 years. The course has to be completed within 3 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 cost of the course varies in the range of $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 cost of the course for professional members is $1,080, which includes the exam fees of $415 per part coupled with an entrance fee of $250. For students, the cost is slightly lower at $810, which includes the exam fees of $311 per part and an entrance fee of $188.
JobsSome of the common profiles include


  • Estate Planner
  • Retirement Planner
  • Financial Manager
  • Risk Manager
 Some of the common profiles include


  • Financial Risk Manager
  • Financial Consultant
  • Financial Analyst
  • Cost Accountant
  • Internal auditor
DifficultyThe exams are moderately difficult as indicated from a historical pass rate that is greater than 60%. During 2019, the overall pass rate was 62%, while that for the first-timers was even higher at 66%. The exams are moderately difficult as indicated from a historical pass rate that is greater than 60%. During 2019, the overall pass rate was 62%, while that for the first-timers was even higher at 66%.
Exam DateThe schedule for the upcoming exams for the year 2022


  • Mar 08-15
  • Jul 12-19
  • Nov 01-08


 The schedule for the upcoming 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 speaks volumes of its credibility.  The CFP candidates are remunerated with attractive salaries in investments, insurance, tax, retirement & real estate.

Why pursue CMA?

CMA is a globally recognized and accepted certification in the corporate world and is extremely relevant for a professional who wants 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 not only from the US but also in 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 its 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.

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


Research is extremely important, considering the time and cost involved in pursuing these certification courses. It is better than to be sure of the career goals and the career boosts you are most likely to achieve before jumping in and registering yourself for the exam.

This has been a guide to CFP vs. CMA. Here we discuss the difference between CFP and CMA to compare their job opportunities, registration fees, study hours, subjects along with infographics and 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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