Global Knowledge: Is a CPA License Enough?

by Susan Cinnella-Firriolo, CPA.CITP, CGMA, CISA, CGB, Inc. – July 31, 2017
Global Knowledge: Is a CPA License Enough?

While the CPA license remains highly respected and carries great value, CPAs have additional internationally recognized credentialing options available when evaluating opportunities in the global market.

The world has become a fascinating setting for professional growth. Technology has given us the ability to seamlessly connect to places around the world and beyond. In today’s data-driven world, the ability to instantly exchange information across continents drives worldwide transactions. Facilitating the processing of worldwide transactions leads to globalization — the process of interaction and integration among people, businesses and governments of different nations. The process is promoted by technology and powered by international trade and investment, and it is producing new opportunities for CPAs.

Some of the credentials that can assist a CPA in a global market are briefly described below.

Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (The Association) 

The Association ( is an international body of professional accountants, combining the strengths of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). The Association represents 650,000 members and students in public and management accounting and offers the following designation:

  • Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
    The CGMA designation distinguishes professionals who have advanced proficiency in finance, operations, strategy and management. More than 150,000 accounting and finance professionals hold the CGMA, making it the most widely held management accounting designation in the world. The experience and exam requirements to become a CGMA vary depending upon whether the candidate is already a CPA.


Formed in 1967 by a group of computer system auditors, today ISACA ( serves IT governance professionals and has over 140,000 members in over 180 countries. Members work in all industries as information systems auditors, consultants, security professionals, regulators, chief information officers, internal auditors and educators. ISACA sets the standards for IS auditing and control. ISACA professional certifications include the following:

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
    CISA is a globally recognized accreditation for IS audit professionals. There are approximately 118,000 CISA holders who have demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of and experience with information systems control environments, securitization procedures, validation methods and auditing activities. Certification is awarded after passing a five-part, four-hour exam and obtaining five years of professional IS auditing, control, security or similar work experience.

  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
    CISM is the globally recognized standard for professionals who design, build and manage information security programs. CISM is the leading credential for information security managers. There are approximately 28,000 CISM holders, and it has been ranked one of the highest-paying and most in-demand IT certifications. Certification is awarded after passing a four-part, four-hour exam and obtaining five years of professional information security management experience.

  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) 
    CRISC (pronounced see-risk) is a global certifi­cation for professionals with the skills to design, implement, monitor and maintain effective risk-based IS con­trols. Introduced in 2010, approximate­ly 20,000 professionals have earned the CRISC designation. Certification is awarded after passing a four-part, four-hour exam and obtaining three years of IT risk management, design and control implementation work experience. 

  • Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) 
    CGEIT is a globally recognized standard for profes­sionals who are certified in the governance of enterprise IT principles and practices. CGEIT holders are trained to identify critical issues surrounding IT governance and strategic business alignment. Certification is awarded after passing a five-part, four-hour exam and obtaining five years of managing or supporting the governance of enterprise IT.

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)

The IMA ( was founded in 1919 by a group of cost accountants who wanted to provide business knowledge and promote professional practices. Formerly known as the National Association of Cost Accountants, the IMA is now a worldwide association of accountants and financial professionals that has over 85,000 members and focuses on advancing the professional excellence of the accounting and financial professions throughout 140 countries. IMA certifications include the following:

  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
    The CMA is a globally recognized credential issued to professionals who have demonstrated proficiency in financial analysis, budgeting, strategic assessment and other skills. Certification is awarded after passing a two-part, nine-hour exam. In addition, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and two years’ experience in financial management or management accounting.

  • Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis (CSCA) 
    The CSCA is a specialty credential intended to expand on the strategic planning and analysis skills associated with the CMA certi­fication. The CSCA identifies CMAs who are senior finance leaders and have mastered the concepts of organi­zational strategic planning processes. Certification is awarded after passing a three-part, three-hour exam. CSCA certification holders must also maintain an active CMA designation and comply with Ethical Professional Practices.

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)

Founded in 1988 by an accountant turned FBI agent, the ACFE ( is the larg­est professional anti-fraud organization in the world. The ACFE has 80,000 members whose mission is to reduce incidences of fraud and white collar crime. ACFE offers the following certification:

  • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
    Individuals holding a CFE designation are considered experts in fraud detection and deterrence in business, government and academic entities. Certification is awarded after passing a four-part, 10-hour exam and obtaining two years of professional experience. In order to be eligible to take the exam, candidates must be an Associate member of the ACFE and have a four-year college degree.

International Federation of Accountants (IFAC)

IFAC was founded in 1977 to strengthen the global profession of accounting in the public interest through international corroboration. IFAC began with 63 members from 51 countries and presently includes 175 members representing 130 countries. IFAC offers no individual designations, as their membership consists of professional accountant organizations (PAOs). Membership is obtained by developing an understanding of the obligations of affiliation, obtaining a sponsor who is an existing member and other requirements. The mission of the IFAC is to serve the public interest and strengthen the profession of accounting.

Internationally accepted financial certifications typically have specific skills to be gained through their attainment; requirements for education, examination and experience; costs associated with obtaining and maintaining accreditation; and continuing education requirements. CPAs should consider these factors along with career goals when determining the benefit of additional certifications.

Additional Designations

Below are some additional organizations and the designations they administer in more distinct areas of expertise.

Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP),

  • Certified Financial Risk Manager (FRM)
  • Energy Risk Professional (ERP)

Chartered Financial Analyst Institute (CFA Institute),

  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM)
  • Investment Foundations Certificate

Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA),

  • Certified Internal Auditor
  • Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP)
  • Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)
  • Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA)
  • Certified in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA)
  • Certified Process Safety Auditor (CPSA)
  • Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA)
  • Qualified in Internal Leadership (QIAL)

This article appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.