The AICPA Council voted Monday to approve a joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants to create a new credential for management accountants internationally.

“Today is a very historical day for our profession,” American Institute of CPAs senior vice president Arleen Thomas announced as an introduction to item No. 11 on the AICPA Spring Council 2011 agenda. “We will vote for the creation of a management accounting profession and the chance to be recognized as part of a community that will span the globe.”

The proposal, for a joint venture between the AICPA and CIMA to authorize the creation of a new internationally recognized Chartered Global Management Accountant, or CGMA, credential, was approved unanimously. The joint venture—which is not a membership body but will be responsible for managing and advocating for the institutes’ combined brand—is called the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

The CGMA credential will serve members of business, industry and government in improving their management accounting expertise and help candidates move “up the value chain of the organization” from the operational to management areas.

After Monday’s approval, the credential will be available beginning in the first quarter of 2012 to those with three years of management accounting experience, specifically involvement in the practice of running a business. The exam will then be rolled out Jan. 1, 2015.

CIMA, as a U.K.-based institute with strategic alliances in Asia, Australia and elsewhere abroad, will also help globally promote the CPA license in its co-branding of the credential, Thomas explained to council members before the vote. The AICPA and CIMA have previously worked together for many years co-authoring thought leadership papers.

Thomas also cited the “stickiness” of the credential as a strategy to “maintain the pipeline” of CPAs.

The joint venture will be permanent, with 60 percent owned by the AICPA and 40 percent by CIMA, though board membership will be 50/50. An exit strategy is also in place if necessary, said AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon, in which both institutes would continue to separately support members and credential-holders.

The CGMA is expected to “deliver value to approximately 140,000 [AICPA] members working in business and government,” said Melancon. Accountants with more than three years of experience will be automatically eligible for the credential. The 183,000 CIMA members in 168 countries who are credentialed in either the Associate of the CIMA (ACMA) or the Fellow (FCMA) will also be eligible.

“There are some moments in your career that are so profound they give you a chill,” said AICPA chairman Paul Stahlin after the proposal was approved. “It’s a forward-looking process… The future is not only here but abroad.”

Stahlin quoted John F. Kennedy, stating, “Things don’t happen. Things are made to happen,” before also remarking on the unprecedented nature of the morning’s vote. “The historic event today will shape the professional landscape for years to come.”

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