Friday, 13 September 2013

Group Dynamics In CMA SLP Year 2

This was the biggest change (and challenge!) as compared to Year 1. In year two of the CMA SLP all the case reports were now group work. Depending on your personality, you may view this as a positive or a negative. For me this components was the biggest challenge. On one hand it was great to be able to bounce ideas among the team members and often if one person did not know something, another did. However sometimes two or more people thought they were right, but each person had a different answer - that is where we often spent a lot of time debating on which approach to go with and often had to resolve to a vote.

Our team had 6 people and I am happy with our team as we didn't have any trouble makers or 'difficult' people, and everyone genuinely cared and put effort in towards the report, but we still had our share of issues.

The moderators broke us into groups supposedly based on a personality test that we did earlier, but also taking into account our residence to make it easier to meet up. I think they did well overall as they tried to avoid having more than one Type A personality per group. I am a major Type A personality and luckily no one else in the group was too.

We quickly settled into our roles that emerged based on our individual skills. In the beginning we tried to split everything evenly so say everyone gets an alternative to calculate, but the reality is that some people are better at quants and others may be better at research and writing or at presentations and creating visuals for power point slides so we ended up embracing this eventually and things started moving much more smoothly when we did so.

We did hit a few road blocks when a member would insist on including something that others didn't feel belonged in the report (we were limited by pages for appendixes and by number of words for the body of the report), but resorting to a vote usually made these decisions seem less personal. We voted on things often.

Every weekend our team would meet and we would review what each person did and then work on putting it together in a cohesive way (we found that we had to choose a team member that will be the 'voice' of the report, otherwise if you just copy and paste the work of 6 people it did not sound cohesive and professional. We wanted the report to flow smoothly and not feel like the voice/writing style was constantly changing). To make it sound cohesive one person would be sitting with a laptop and typing the information that the group would come up with (i.e. everyone had the case in front of them and would read it together and identify the pros/cons, etc. and the person at the computer would include it in the report in their 'writing style').

We also had a 'plan' that we came up with ahead of time, charting what we wanted to achieve each weekend and if we would fall behind, we would push harder the next weekend of meet an extra time. The plan was for several months ahead and ensured that we had adequate time to finish the project without pulling all-nighters like some teams ended up doing.

I will caution you that in our team, some members spent more time working on the report then others, but I think this is inevitable. Some members are stronger than others and even though it is 'not fair' that everyone will get the same mark at the end, you still want the person who is the best at something to be the one to do it (so if someone is good at quants, even though they may not like it, I think it is best for them to be the main quants person).

I think this report should not be approached from a 'how can we do it fairly' perspective, but rather from a 'how can we do it well' perspective.

During the weekend CMA sessions you will be given an anonymous sheet to mark your team mates. I really recommend that you just give everyone good feedback and a good mark. I know it sounds weird, and you may think 'but isn't this my chance to let them know that they are not pulling in their weight and need to step it up'. If you choose to do this, it is up to you. But speaking from experience, in our team for the first evaluation someone did give out 'honest' feedback and it ended up costing the team as a whole because I guess it conveyed that our team wasn't really 'working though our issues/ working effectively' so our team mark was less than impressive for that weekend session. For all next evaluations we decided to just give everyone AEs and write positive feedback and since then our team mark was great. I recommend that you deal with any issues internally in your team.

I think the most challenging aspect of the group dynamic is during presentations because your performance depends on others and you don’t have a chance to 'proof read', review, adjust or vote on what others will say before it gets assessed (like you do with the written report). People get nervous and make mistakes. Teammates will fumble their slides and presentation, they will mess up Q&As, they will say the wrong thing and they will project the wrong body language at times during the presentation. This will happen and your mark will be affected by it and you better make peace with it sooner than later, it hurts but it is true. You will make mistakes too at some point and they will have to come to terms with it as well.

One thing to remember is that the group passes or fails together, so if you are having a problem with a team member I highly recommend you resolving it internally. You may have a team member that is not pulling in their weight as much as others and from what I have heard it is best to just deal with it because making a big deal and having the moderators deal with this may result in a negative impact on the whole group (if you have a member that’s MIA that may be a different issue, but if its a member that’s slacking off here and there, I would just have the rest of the group deal with it rather than bring CMA into the mix).

You will get to know the people in your team very well so make the best of it, try to laugh through it all because you will see them more than your family some weeks so try to make it pleasant (we would often bring snacks, joke around, and made sure to get to know each other).


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Case Master is now on Facebook!

I have created a page on Facebook where you can post, comment and discuss anything relating to CMA -- Case Exams, SLP, Board Report, etc. The more CMA candidates we have on there the better the discussions and support will be.

My goal is to create a unified place for CMA candidates to be able to reach one another to ask questions and discuss various topics. 

Please like the Case Master facebook page and pass along to your friends and classmates:

It will be fairly quiet for a bit on there as we slowly build it up and get more and more students so bare with me! 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

CMA Approved Calculators - now on discount

FYI - has some great discounts now on various Financial Calculators:

Personally I have always preferred and used the Texas Instruments BA-II Plus. I still use it to this day and have used it at work as well.

You can check out all of's financial calculators by clicking here. is a participant in the, Inc. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Sunday, 23 June 2013

May 2013 CMA Case Exam Results

July 9th Note: Now that marks are out and people are curious about pass rates, I added a poll on the right hand side to see how many have passed the exam (sort of my own informal pass rate for case master visitors). Please take a second to check off whether you have passed or not. Thank you! 

To those that are awaiting the May 2013 CMA Case Exam results, I heard that this time results will likely be released about 8 weeks post exam rather than after 6 weeks as some may be expecting.

It is now the 8th week so results should be in any day now - good luck and let me know how you did!! 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Post By a Guest Blogger - Experience In The CMA SLP Program (Year 1, Module 2 - Toronto Group)

In February I posted on this blog looking for current CMA students to share their current and recent experiences in the CMA program. Below is a post that was written by a Guest Blogger who is currently in Year 1 of the SLP, in a Toronto Group. I hope everyone finds this helpful!
Many thanks to the writer of this post who took the time to write an honest and personal take on their experience so far in the program!
"I wanted to share my experience being in the SLP program. I am in the middle of Year 1,Module 2 in a Toronto group. The ride so far has been a constant mix of highs and lows.
Beware - every concept you ignore or gloss over comes back to (bite you in the butt) HAUNT you!
I would enjoy this experience so much more if I weren’t weighed down by responsibilities (other than a busy job) – but hey, that’s life! Time management is critical and a personal commitment is essential. I put in a lot of time in each of my assignments in Module 1, but didn’t keep up the effort in Module 2. The results are evidence of my effort in most cases. I have run the gamut of assessment feedback – from receiving an AE to a BE. What can I say – I don’t think the program is hard, it is a lot of work though, and you need to keep up. It challenges you.
My struggles are uninspiring – in a nutshell, they are time management, motivation, and assignments!
Motivation – its up one moment, down the next. Sometimes all I can do is put one foot in front of the other; just keeping up with assignments and readings seems to be a monumental effort. I do envy all those who seem to have it all together – assignments done well ahead of time (with an excellent mark to boot!). I don’t know if I am the average Joe here, or exceptionally behind the class curve!
Time Management – I still have to find my groove in terms of finding a pattern that works to constantly keep up with all the studying. Some assignments take longer than others. I found required assignment readings very valuable, and applying them to my organization challenged me to think hard.
Assignments - every assignment I went through seemed to follow a typical pattern – it seems a breeze at first read. I then start going through the readings, and now my head is filled with all this added information - I see assignment questions in a new light. The clock is ticking away, and I better start the actual task of writing the assignment. This stage is the biggest stumbling block, and takes me the most amount of time. I proceed with what seems to be the most logical answer, but inevitably have to rethink my position as I work through supporting arguments. Most times, another position seems better, and I repeat the cycle of re-presenting my answer. By the time this has happened 3-4 times I am thoroughly confused. In some cases, there is no more time and I submit what I think is the best answer – but really, I am far from convinced. At other times, I persist for many more hours, and low and behold, I begin to see light at the end of the tunnel – the confusion starts melting away, and now there is renewed energy in re-doing my work, one more time. Arguments flow seamlessly, everything just comes together. How can I explain the high? Even as I submit my work, I know I have done excellent work. The satisfaction is tremendous, and I feel I am on the right track with my CMA program.
I struggled the most (and still do) with case writing. I feel inundated with so much information - where do I begin, how do I make sense of it all, which calculations should I use (doesn’t seem intuitive to me at all), how do I tie it all together, and most importantly, how do I stop second guessing myself? In this case, there seems to be no end to the self inflicted torture of trying to make sense of all my jumbled thoughts and calculations. Further, time spent on case assignments is not proportional to the assessment received. I got an ME- in case work assignments, but I don’t know that I really understand what it would take to improve my work. I wish I could see someone else’s work that merited an AE. At the interactive session, when moderators debriefed cases in a class discussion, analysis seemed so easy and the logic flowed so well. I kept wondering why it had all seemed so difficult and overwhelming when I attempted cases on my own. I also felt like a first class idiot to have allowed the case assignments to literally take over my life, and stress me out so much!
I guess the struggle will continue for the foreseeable future. Friends assure me that my confusion is all too common, and it will pass, that the moderators are supportive and through interactive sessions and future assignments, eventually, I would be able to do a case in 4 hours. I am quite skeptical at this point. It just seems clear to me that I need to put in so much more time, effort and practice until I can master  the skills to attempt case analysis successfully!
Overall, the first few months of my SLP program feel like a roller coaster. I have alternated between thoughts of giving up this ambition of earning my designation and a recognition, that slowly, but surely, I am evolving - developing the critical thinking and case analysis skill sets I need to be successful in this profession, and with each passing day, assignment by assignment, I am getting that much closer to getting my designation and making this journey worthwhile!"

Friday, 22 February 2013

Want To Share Your CMA Experience?

Since it has been a few years since I have been through the CMA program myself, I am looking for current or recent CMA students (at any stage of the process) who may be interested in writing a post about their experience in the program. Students often wonder about what is it like to go through the various stages of the CMA program and I would love to post first hand experiences from current or recent students so that others can read and get an idea of what to expect or to compare their own experiences!

If you are interested, please let me know by contacting me at cmacasemaster (@)

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Two Job Opportunities - Assistant Controller and SFA

There are two job opportunities (Assistant Controller and SFA) that I have been made aware of through one of my executive recruiter contacts. If you are interested in applying and think you will be a good fit, please email me (cmacasemaster (at) gmail (dot) com) and I will refer you (in the email please include a short summary of your qualifications because I don't want to refer anyone who is unqualified).
Here is the job info that my contact has provided: 
My client, a very well known, tier one, Foodservice company, is in need of an ASSISTANT CONTROLLER (also am in need of a sharp SFA, 75-85k).

This is a KEY position within the finance department, responsible for meeting the monthly, quarterly and annual reporting requirements. You will also be managing the accounting functions of the Finance Team, monitoring cash flow, treasury transactions, monthly analysis and reporting of variances between actual and budgeted revenues, G&A and capital expenditures, overseeing day to day operations, account reconciliations, etc.

You will also be coaching a highly motivated group.

The Controller is a CA but has a strong FP&A background. So she is looking for someone who also has a strategic outlook, not just a number cruncher, and someone who will be able to business partner effectively with different teams and coach and mentor their staff.

We ideally are in need of a CA or CMA, who has 5-8 years of related accounting and finance experience. A minimum of 3 years supervisory/managerial experience would be ideal as well.

It is paying up to 95k, plus a 10% bonus.

This is an urgent need and the company is a fast growing, extremely profitable and fast paced organization that offers room for advancement and great benefits!

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