I’ve noticed that you’re partnered in the past with the Institute of Internal Auditors and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and even had the same marketing person. Are you still separate organizations?
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Thomson: All those organizations are separate, but we have many agreements and partnerships all over the world where they make sense, expanding our footprint while serving our mission. So we have a mutual recognition agreement with a major association in India, for example. We have various advocacy and research partnerships with other global accounting associations. That’s important because the objective is to serve your profession. I worked for 24 years at AT&T in a cutthroat, competitive telecommunications environment, so with all due respect to my peers at AICPA and CIMA who are incredibly respected association executives, I have significantly more experience in the competitive environment. In some sense it’s unfortunate that we even have to use that word in a not-for-profit societal type of environment, but it is what it is. It’s part of what the environment brings you, and as I said, while IMA will always stay true to its mission of serving professionals and society, if competition faces us we will approach it in a fierce but respectful manner. It’s important that we stand up and be counted. Again we highly respect AICPA and CIMA. We just are troubled by the manner in which they are awarding CGMAs during this three-year period from January 2012 to January 2015.
Accounting Today reached out to the AICPA and the CIMA. The AICPA sent this response from senior vice president of management accounting Arleen Thomas to some of our questions.
Is the new CGMA credential a sign that the AICPA plans to merge with the CIMA?
The IMA contends that the three-year grandfathering period for getting a CGMA doesn’t include a test, which they say should be required. What’s your response?
Thomas: All CGMAs will have had some form of rigorous testing. Outside of the United States, all CIMA members who are eligible for the CGMA have followed a very thorough multi-year curriculum and have taken a very rigorous set of examinations—10 of them including a case study. In the U.S., those initially eligible to receive the CGMA credential during the first three years must be a CPA member of the AICPA—that is, they have passed the very challenging Uniform CPA Examination and have met educational requirements set by their state boards of accountancy—and have at least three years of experience in management accounting.
So, by definition, all new CGMAs would have gone through the CIMA examination process or have taken the four-part CPA examination and have had the equivalent experience component. As a matter of fact, approximately 40,000 AICPA members who meet the CGMA criteria in the U.S are in top C-Suite roles, such as CEOs, CFOs, Comptrollers, etc. In three years, we will add an additional assessment to the CGMA program, and all CGMAs, those now and in the future, will be required to commit to comprehensive ethical standards and ongoing education to ensure their skills remain up to date with market needs.
What about the free, six-month auto enrollment period?
Thomas: It is only fair and equitable to offer the opportunity to become a CGMA to those AICPA members who already have extensive work experience in management accounting and have passed the Uniform CPA Examination. The six-month grace period gives members a chance to have the CGMA credential, receive all the CGMA benefits and experience membership in the largest and most experienced management accounting community in the world.
Could you address the IMA's concern that the lack of a test during the three-year grandfathering period for the CGMA credential, and the free six-month auto-enrollment period, would lessen the value of the training that management accountants need to do a proper job for their companies?
Tilley: I think it is very important to remember that the individuals who will qualify to use the CGMA credential from Jan. 31, 2012 are all CPAs who have, therefore, both qualified for this credential, including obtaining an accountancy degree. They have then had a minimum of three years practical experience in business which two years must have been in the business finance environment.
The IMA has also speculated that the CGMA could be a step on the path toward an eventual merger between CIMA and the AICPA. Do you have a response?
Tilley: This is a new joint venture between the AICPA and CIMA, and a merger isn’t part of the current plan. Both organizations intend to work together to take advantage of each other's respective strengths. When the success of the JV is established, other options, including a merger, could be considered in the future.