With the Certified Account Executive (CAE) Exam in just a few months (December 7 to be exact), Talley Management Group asked some of its CAEs to reflect on their decision to earn their CAE designation and how they prepared for the exam. TMG's Director of Association Management Services, Chuck Sapp, CPA, CAE, offered his insight into why he chose to earn it and how those taking it in December can prepare.
The first designation I earned was actually my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Certification. When entering the association management industry, my first position was as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a 12-unit association management company (AMC) in Illinois, where I am originally from. When I came to TMG 12 years ago, it became obvious that earning the CAE designation was a must. While the CPA designation was still respected and valued by the TMG team and those I worked with, the CAE was more specific to the industry and signified the depth of experience and skill to both our current and future clients.
When I decided that I wanted to sit for the exam, I first planned how I was going to prepare. I was fortunate to have 15 years of experience along with a background in business but knew that those two things were not at all enough. I took four practice exams that were offered and focused on the area where I had the most deficits. Being able to “practice” before sitting for the real exam most definitely contributed to me passing when the time came.
I am often asked by my colleagues what areas they should focus their studying on and my first answer is to concentrate on the subjects that you don’t know or don’t like. For example, if you have been in the industry for 10 years with most of your experience focusing on membership and meetings, chances are, those are the areas that you are already proficient in and will have to spend the least amount of time on. When it comes to topics that we don’t like, we tend to avoid them or to know only the bare minimum-that’s not an option and is certainly not a way to prepare for the test. If you don’t handle the ins and outs of your insurance policies, focus on them for the test. In the AMC model, we often have teams and departments that divide the many elements of an association so that we can each keep our focus on the area it needs to be. The CAE exam covers all aspects of an association and its operations, so your study model needs to, too.
Chuck brings a unique combination of experiences and skills to the TMG team. For over 20 years, Chuck has worked with complex association management structures and related services. As a registered CPA, he is well versed in the financial, tax and audit issues nonprofits face. In addition, he has specialization in operational and financial management and process improvement in all areas of operations of the nonprofit entity. His extensive experience in governance development in times of change with multiple organizations-both domestic and international-are unique and often utilized by the client partners of TMG. A proud Illinois native, Chuck can be found rooting for the Chicago Cubs with his buddy, Maddux.
The next CAE Examination is scheduled for Friday, December 7. Application deadlines, test information, including examination sites, can be found by visiting the ASAE website.