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What is a Certified Financial Manager?

By Ken Black
Updated Jan 22, 2024
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A certified financial manager (CFM) is an individual who has received accreditation from the Institute for Management Accountants. The designation is generally regarded to be a standard certification in the industry, but whether individuals need the certification may vary from one employer to another. Rather than preparing individuals for work as investment analysts or portfolio managers, the certified financial manager program helps individuals prepare to work in individual firms.

The requirements to become a certified financial manager include a Bachelor's Degree, along with successful completion of the examination. The exam consists of 110 multiple choice questions, which are typically given through a computer. The computer will score the test immediately, so that test takers will know if they have passed immediately upon completion of the entire examination. Once passed, the certified financial manager designation will be awarded to those who are successful. Test takers do not need to have a financial management degree or any sort of formal financial management training in order to take the test, but it may be easier.

In preparation for the test, individuals can take advantage of a number of study guides designed to adequately prepare them. The Institute of Management Accountants has a very popular kit to help with exam preparation. This kit is designed by those who have also designed the test. This may make it one of the most advantageous guides. It is not necessary to buy the kit in order to take the exam, though it may give candidates a good idea of what to expect if they have never taken the exam before.

A certified financial manager is considered to be one of the top professionals in the field. Therefore, those with the designation may find they have more opportunities for advancement. It may also help that individual attract more clients. Even those clients who may not understand much about the program may feel better entrusting money to someone who has received such a professional designation.

Being a certified financial manager is also different than being a certified public accountant. Though both are standards in the industry, the tests are different, and CPAs must have completed a certain minimum number of hours in related coursework. Further, the CPA designation is often determined by the licensing board of a government, such as a state. The CFM program is administered and monitored by a private organization promoting professionalism and ethical practices in the field. Those who are CPAs are eligible to skip part of the CFM exam.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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