Finance Certifications: Does it value-add to your career?

Melissa Teo, DigitalCFO Asia | 9 June 2022

Certificate-proof your experience

The camaraderie with schoolmates you’ve spent gruelling study sessions cramming every last bit of information into an already bursting brain, it lasts beyond taking your graduation bow. Knowing you have gone through something momentous together, has a ripple effect on future relations.

Youthful student’s life anecdote applies similarly to adult learners of continuing education. When you’re exchanging business cards, and you both notice that each person possess the same designation earned from professional certification – there is an instant connection. Discussion and lamentation on the rewarding yet bothersome tests flows on. Not forgetting the paperwork and subsequent recertification process. Next thing you know, you’re hearing about each other’s work challenges and devising ways to lift each other up. Making a new friend has never been easy like this since childhood playground days.


Choosing A Certification

Earning a financial certification symbolises industry excellence, while displaying an individual’s commitment to ethical conduct. Amongst the top class certifications offered, there are all compassing courses applicable to all financial career pathways and courses specialising in particular areas of corporate finance management.

An accounting certificate is probably on the to-do list of aspiring CFOs. Two well-respected credentials are Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA). Much has been said on them, so this article instead focuses on certifications by Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), namely in treasury management and FP&A.

Certified Treasury Professional (CTP)

Treasury management — ensuring the firm always has access to the cash it needs to function and spare funds is used efficiently. Learning to execute critical functions related to corporate liquidity, capital and risk management can be done in the working space, amidst the slings and arrows from clients and superiors. It can also be achieved in the classroom, shading answers to multiple choice practice questions.

David Tarlow who is Executive Director of Treasury Sales and Group Manager at JPMorgan Chase & Co, undertook and reaped much from the CTP certification till date. Exam preparation was textbook-centric, yet also geared towards the real world. Learning about international treasury practices and financial formulas bettered his competence in grasping and serving clients’ day-to-day needs.

Financial Planning & Analysis (FPAC)

FP&A centers upon strategising the firm’s financial resources to most efficiently to generate profitability and develop the company at the fastest possible rate while avoiding major financial risk. Similarly, continued education for FP&A professionals takes place in and beyond the workplace.

It is especially so as Irena Barisic, Deputy CFO of The Brookings Institution has observed. Acquiring FPAC certification and regularly (informally) re-certifying oneself with real world happenings, has enabled her to ride the tides of trends. FP&A’s function has evolved from statistical insight reserved for top management, to being integrated across all levels and functions. Its skillset is expected to expand beyond just understanding the numbers.


If you’re surfing the Great Resignation wave, studying for a certification is a viable activity for your career break. The effort and monetary cost of earning an extra title translates into higher wage across the board. Confidence during job negotiation is also boosted, just by knowing that you are bringing upsized talent to the table. Besides, you’ll also seal ties with professionals having similar certificates, making friends and letting opportunities generate itself along the way.