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From Brian’s Desk

CMA with Brian – Brian Hock’s first Live Online CMA Class!

Dear CMA Candidates,

I am pleased to announce that we are launching my very first CMA online class in January 2020 – CMA with Brian!

I have been helping CMA candidates around the world pass their exams for 20 years. In the past few years, HOCK and other CMA providers have been focused on self-study materials. In this term, the key word is “self,” which means that you are supposed to do the studying by yourself. Though this is absolutely possible, no matter how good the materials are, there is a lot of pressure going through the process alone.

Years of experience, analysis, and interaction with thousands of CMA candidates has led me to the following conclusion: it is much easier to prepare for and pass professional exams when you are supported in live classes with a teacher who can not only answer your questions and provide extra explanations, but also keep you motivated and focused as you study. Having scheduled classroom hours each week with your teacher and group greatly improves you chances of staying on track studying and passing your Exam. And that is why you are studying – to pass your Exam on your first attempt.

If you have been self-studying and looking for just that little extra to stay focused and motivated, I have great news for you – you don’t have to do it on your own anymore. I will make certain that you are supported and confident as you progress through the materials. I will lead you, motivate you, and make certain that every question you have while studying is answered. And most importantly, I will make sure that on the day of your exam, you will wake up confident about passing your exam.

Starting in January we will have groups for Part 1 and Part 2. The classes will finish at the end of April so that you will be ready to pass your Exam(s) in the May/June Exam Window. We will have one class session per week in which I will outline what you will be studying, give you things to look for and be ready for, and even answer some of the questions that you will have before you have the question. In addition, each week I will have an office hour where I will be available online for you to ask any specific questions that you have – whether about the exam content or how you have been studying and what you might be able to do differently. Between the classes and the office hours, you will have all of the access you need to the decades of experience that I have helping candidates like you pass the Exam.

The number of students in each class is limited so please register as soon as you can to reserve your spot.

If you have not yet purchased the HOCK CMA Complete materials, you can purchase CMA With Brian and get all of the CMA Complete materials here: https://www.hockinternational.com/shop/cma-with-brian/

If you already have HOCK study materials, you just need to upgrade your materials. Please send an e-mail to cma@hockinternational.com so we can let you know what you will need to do to be part of CMA With Brian.

I hope to see you in my upcoming classes and I am looking forward to helping you pass your Exams.

Brian Hock, CMA, CIA
President of HOCK international

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Q&A with Brian Hock, President of HOCK international – Personal / Career Questions

Over the years I have been asked several common questions about my life and career, and I thought I would answer them together for anyone interested in my background.

1. How long did you spend in Russia? Why did you go to Russia? Why did you leave Russia?

I spent 18 years in Russia, starting with two years in Togliatti and the rest in Moscow. I moved to Russia soon after graduating from Miami University, having been interested in Russia since high school after my first visit to Russia in 1987, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. I returned to Russia again in 1989 and 1990. When I entered college, I was studying Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs and Russian History. After looking at the limited career opportunities for Russian History professors, I switched my major to Accountancy. When I interviewed for jobs with the Big 6 audit firms, I said that I wanted to work in Russia. I ended up with three offers in Russia and chose to work with Price Waterhouse in Togliatti. AvtoVAZ, the largest Russian car manufacturer, was the single client in that office.

There was no specific reason that I decided to leave Russia, just a general desire to return to the US. I enjoyed all of my time in Russia and I would do it again.

2. What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy helping other people succeed, and providing a personal level of support during someone’s studies is what I enjoy the most. It is very fulfilling to receive emails from candidates who have studied with HOCK, passed their exams, and gone on to have great success in their career.

3. If you were not teaching, what would you be doing instead?

That is a difficult question because it has been so long since I did anything else, having been involved in training since 1996. I started training at PwC in Moscow, then moved to ATC International, and then after one year as the regional training manager for Arthur Andersen, I opened HOCK Training in 2000. If I had to do something other than teaching, I think I would like to be a small business consultant helping entrepreneurs reach their dreams.

4. What are some of the most memorable books you have read?

I greatly enjoyed reading The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay, and Wild Swans, by Jung Chang. In general, I like reading historical fiction.

5. What is your favorite topic to teach?

If I had to pick just one, I would say that my most favorite topic to teach is CPA Business Law because it is a topic that many non-US candidates are not familiar with and find difficult. I think that Business Law is a topic that I am able to bring more value to candidates through a clear and understandable presentation of these topics.

6. What did you study at University?

I have two Bachelors’ Degrees from Miami University (located in the state of Ohio, not Florida), in History and Accountancy. As much I enjoyed all of my history studies and considered getting a PhD in Russian History, employment prospects were much higher for an accountant than for a Russian historian.

7. How did you start writing your own textbooks?

I started writing textbooks because the candidates that I was teaching in 2000 were not able to understand the review materials that were in the market for CPA and CMA at that time. The first topics that I wrote were for Bonds and Leases for CPA while I was teaching a CPA group in Almaty, Kazakhstan. After the students commented how easy my materials were to study from, I wrote the rest of the topics as well. Within a couple of years, I had replaced all of the other CMA, CPA, and CIA materials that we had been using with HOCK materials.

8. Have you traveled a lot for your work?

When I was living in Russia I did a lot of traveling within the former Soviet Union. I taught classes in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Georgia. As a company we also had classes in Belarus, but they were all in Russian, so I did not teach them.

9. How do you prepare for teaching, whether in class or for videos?

In addition to making certain that I have in my mind the progression through the topics and the examples, the main thing I do before I make a video is take a moment to remind myself that candidates around the world are going to use these materials to help them prepare to pass the exam and that I keep their success as the motivation behind my videos. It was a few years ago that I switched my focus from how much we sold to instead focusing on making certain that we are providing the best and highest support for candidates who are relying on us to help them. I know that the cost of the exams and preparing is a significant investment (in both money and time) and candidates place a great trust in their provider. I want to make certain that we do not violate that trust.

10. Do you have any other accountants in your family?

Yes, I do. My father was an accounting professor (one of the best that I had) for over 30 years. My older brother is a CPA and works in consulting and litigation services. My younger brother, Kevin, who works with me at HOCK, also has an accounting degree (and a computer science degree).

I hope that you have enjoyed this Q&A. Stayed tuned for another Q&A later this week answering some common exam prep questions!

Brian Hock, CMA, CIA

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Are the questions in the question bank the same as they are on the exam?

We frequently hear from students after they take an exam, “The questions on the exam were different than the practice software!” Yes, that is both correct and expected because the examiners are constantly adding new questions to the exam that are different than the previously released exam questions. If the questions tested on the exam were available in advance, you could prepare for the exam just by memorizing all of the questions. The CMA, CPA, or CIA would not be a very valuable professional certification if this were the case.

What this means for you is that the books and videos that teach you the concepts are the most important part of your studies. If you understand the topics tested on the exam, you can answer any questions asked, even if it they are different than the ones you practiced. Just memorizing how to answer the questions that have been asked before will not prepare you to answer the new and different questions that you will see on the exam.

Brian Hock, CMA, CIA

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Does HOCK’s question bank have enough MCQs to prepare you for the CMA exam?

Yes, the HOCK question bank will prepare you to pass the CMA exams. To answer this question more fully, and help you feel confident in this answer, we need to look not only at the quantity of questions, but also the quality of questions.

HOCK, Gleim, Wiley, and other providers are all provided with the same retired exam questions from the ICMA, the governing body of the CMA exam. This means that all providers start with mostly the same base of questions in their question banks. Any variations in question counts between providers can be attributed to:

  1. Outdated questions. We have been told that some other providers have questions that are no longer relevant, contain outdated accounting information, or refer to outdated technology (such as floppy disks). We work very hard to actively remove questions that are no longer relevant and waste your time.
  2. Duplicate questions. Similarly, some question banks have a lot of duplicate or similar questions. Taking a question and doubling all of the numbers in it does make a new question, but that new question is not beneficial to your exam preparation. We remove any duplicate or similar questions that we find during our regular review of the questions, and do not leave them in just to inflate our question count.
  3. Questions providers write. We work hard to write relevant and challenging questions for our question bank if there are any gaps in the coverage of the questions received from the ICMA. Questions that are too easy or excessively cover one topic do not add value to you, even though they make the question count higher.

How important are incorrect answer explanations when evaluating the quality of a question database?

Incorrect answer explanations are very important to efficiently learning the material. While preparing for the exam, you will get some of the practice questions wrong. When this happens, you can turn that incorrect answer into a learning opportunity by understanding why you got a question incorrect, for example, what mistake you made, what formula you used incorrectly, or what theory you applied. This can save you from making the same mistake again later.

HOCK is only one of two CMA providers that we are aware of who provide incorrect answer explanations for all questions in the question bank. We encourage you to look at the details in the answer explanations when evaluating a provider’s question database.

The best way that we can express the confidence in the quality of our question bank is that it is part of the HOCK CMA Complete Package with “You Pass Or We Pay” Guarantee. If we did not have enough MCQs or detailed answer explanations, we could not offer this valuable guarantee unique to HOCK.

We look forward to helping you pass your CMA exams. If you have any questions about the HOCK materials, question bank, or exam processes, we will be glad to help.

Brian Hock, CMA, CIA

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A Pass Guarantee with an Incentive for Failure. What?!

Most exam prep providers offer a guarantee with their materials, but not all guarantees are created equal and not all guarantees are designed with you, the candidate, in mind. Let’s take a look at one specific guarantee that is currently offered by a major CPA materials provider (with identifying information removed):


To qualify for [the pass guarantee] and get a tuition refund, a student must meet ALL of the following requirements:

  1. The student must register and pay full tuition (less applicable scholarships and discounts) for the entire four-part course. Students enrolled in individual course sections may not participate in the money-back guarantee program.
  2. The student must achieve a [score] of at least 75 in each section of the course.
  3. The student must complete a full practice exam in each section of the course and achieve at least a 75 on each exam.
  4. The student must start and test for each CPA Exam section within four months and must take all four sections of the CPA Exam within 18 months.
  5. If a student fails all four parts of the CPA Exam and would like to claim a refund of tuition, the student must send all four score reports to [company address] within ten days of the final score release. Students who pass one or more parts of the exam are not eligible for a refund.

Let’s take a look at this guarantee in a little more detail.

  1. You have to purchase the entire 4-Part course and the guarantee is not available with the purchase of a single Part. In other words, you have to give the provider a lot of money up front to buy the entire course.
  2. Achieving a 75% score in each Section is a reasonable requirement, but it is not clear what exactly is included. Is it only MCQs? Does it include essays and TBSs (and if so, who grades them)?
  3. Achieving a 75% score on the practice exam is also a reasonable requirement. However, how many practice exams are there? How many attempts do you get to pass the practice exam(s)?
  4. These are pretty significant time constraints, without any room for delays. While there is also an 18 month time limit for passing all of the CPA exams set by the AICPA, this time limit starts from when you pass your first part. Therefore, the AICPA gives you 18 months to pass the remaining three exams, but the guarantee only gives you 18 months to pass all four exams.
  5. Here is the real “gotcha.” In order to be eligible for the guarantee, you have to fail all four Parts. If you pass even a single Part, you are not eligible for a refund. Furthermore, you have to physically mail the results to their office within 10 days, which could be complicated and/or expensive for students outside of the US. Additionally, the guarantee only gives you back your money that you paid for the materials. This means that you still need to pay for new materials and pay to take the exams again.

The way that this Guarantee is structured, if you take the first three Parts and fail, it is in your best interest to deliberately fail the fourth exam rather than risk passing it and not being eligible for the guarantee. In fact, it might even make financial sense if you fail the first two exams to just fail the other two. This doesn’t make any sense; a guarantee should never provide a financial incentive to fail. It is also not clear if you get to keep the course if you fail all four Parts, but why would you want to?

A review provider’s guarantees are an important consideration when purchasing materials, so be sure to read the guarantees closely and decide if the guarantee is designed with you, a candidate who wants to pass and is looking for a provider to help them in that process, in mind. The more requirements that there are, the more you would be right to be concerned about the quality of the materials. A restrictive Pass Guarantee is just a marketing gimmick that does not add any value to your studies or help you pass the exams.

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2020 CMA Part 1 New Topic: Integrated Reporting (Section A)

Integrated reporting is one of the new topics on the syllabus of the CMA Part 1 Exam beginning in January 2020. The focus of integrated reporting is reporting more about the company than just the financial statements.

One way of looking at integrated reporting is that it is similar to companies applying the balanced scorecard approach to themselves. In the evaluation of employees, a balanced scorecard approach is when the evaluation consists of more than just the evaluation of the work of the person compared to the financial budget. While there are managers who are able to achieve short-term results, sometimes the way that they act towards their colleagues, customers, and suppliers means that the success does not carry into the long-term. The four traditional perspectives that are assessed under a balanced scorecard evaluation are: learning and growth, business processes, customers, and financial performance.

For companies, the financial statements provide only a limited picture of the health of the company based on what information is required to be reported. Integrated reporting is the process of companies reporting more than just their financial results, but also their impact on stakeholders, the environment, and anyone who comes into contact with the business. The primary purpose of integrated reporting is to explain not just how the company has created value in the past, but how it will continue to create value in the future.

If you are studying for the CMA exams in 2020, you will learn about Integrated Reporting in Part 1, Section A. Whether you are studying for CMA or not, you can learn more about Integrated Reporting here: https://integratedreporting.org/

Integrated reporting is a topic that will continue to become more important and is something that accountants will be working with increasingly in the future. Whether or not you need to study integrated reporting for the 2020 CMA exams, I encourage you to learn more about it, and if you have any experiences with integrated reporting already, you are welcome to share those experiences in the comments.

Brian Hock, CMA, CIA

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Video: Six Tips for Answering MCQs on the CMA Exams

In this video, get six tips for answering multiple-choice questions on the CMA exams, including how to quickly eliminate answer choices and use clues from the question to determine the correct answer.

For more information about the CMA exam scoring and grading including how many MCQs are not evaluated during the exam (and why) see How is my CMA Exam Score Determined?.

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The Only Question You Need to Answer to Pass the Exam

There is one question that you must be able to answer correctly in order to pass a professional exam. If you can answer this question correctly, you will pass the exam. If you cannot answer this question correctly, it is very unlikely that you will pass. Watch the video to find out the question!

So, before you start preparing for any question that is going to be on the exam, make certain you can first answer the question of why you are studying. Why are you studying?

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What is the HOCK CMA “You Pass Or We Pay” Guarantee? (Video)

In this video, HOCK international President Brian Hock explains HOCK’s exclusive “You Pass Or We Pay” Guarantee included with our CMA Complete Materials. No other company offers a guarantee that puts a financial commitment on the line! We know that if you put in the time and study with HOCK, you will pass.

Learn more about the HOCK CMA Complete Materials with “You Pass Or We Pay” Guarantee and start studying today!

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