In a panel featuring members from industry at the Spring Meeting of Council of the American Institute of CPAs, institute senior vice president of of management accounting and global markets Arleen Thomas shared some of the details of the upcoming exam for the Certified Global Management Accountant credential.
Starting in January 2015, institute members who want to earn the credential will have to take a three-hour exam or assessment consisting of an integrated case study that covers everything in the body of knowledge of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the AICPA’s partner in the creation of the CGMA credential.
Members will also have to satisfy experience and continuing education requirements.
The CIMA body of knowledge covers a wide range skills and approaches that management accountants need to know, based on three pillars: knowledge related to the enterprise and what it takes to make a business successful; knowledge related to the analysis of financial information; and knowledge related to providing useful financial information to the other functions in the organization.
Panel member Deirdre O’Connor, a managing director at Goldman Sachs who started her career in Ireland, noted that the CIMA body of knowledge leads to a “very broad qualification” and a strong foundation for a career as an accountant in industry.
She was quick to point out the rigors of the CIMA credential, and the degree of integration between the different areas of the body of knowledge. “I really needed to be able to think on my feet and apply what I had learned,” she said.
Thomas noted that there are many areas where the education required by CIMA overlaps with that required of CPAs. “CPA education really creates a strong foundation,” she said.
She also added that the institute and CIMA have launched a new magazine for CGMA holders. “For our members, this is the No. 1 benefit they recognize,” she said. “They love this magazine.”
Working in industry
One point that the panelists touched on repeatedly was the need for accountants in industry to continually seek out more education and skills.
“LIfelong learning really is the fuel that drives corporate success,” Thomas said.
O’Connor summed up the differentiator between individual success in difficult times as, “Being relevant, and challenging yourself to be sure you’re relevant, and knowing your craft, and as that changes, being up to speed on those changes, and being resourceful. You may not be challenged [by your employer] -- then you need to own your own career and challenge yourself.”
William Schneider, director of accounting at AT&T, emphasized the importance of both wide-ranging knowledge and the ability to remain objective: “We have to partner with every part of the organization. For instance, I have to partner with my director of HR -- he thinks of me as part of his team.”
All the panelists agreed that management accountants need to be come more forward-looking.
“There’s hindsight, insight, foresight -- right now, management accountants are focusing on insight, and maybe leaning to hindsight, but for the next two-to-three years, it’s going to be about foresight,” Thomas said.
Ash Noah, a new vice president of external relations at the institute, said, “You need to be running your business looking out the windscreen, not looking at the dashboard -- which is backward-looking.”
For more from the Spring Meeting of Council, see: