The Institute of Management Accountants has reached a milestone of 100,000 members for the first time in the IMA’s near century of operation.

The timing coincides with the IMA’s upcoming 100-year anniversary celebration, which begins in June at IMA's Annual Conference and Expo in Indianapolis and concludes at its conference in San Diego in 2019.

IMA president and CEO Jeff Thomson credited globalization as an important factor in achieving the milestone.

Institute of  Management Accountants president and CEO Jeff Thomson
Institute of Management Accountants president and CEO Jeff Thomson Courtesy: IMA

“We’re very excited, but we’re not resting on our laurels,” he told Accounting Today. “Certainly in China we’re doing incredibly well and the Asia Pacific as well. We’re doing well in all regions. I just came back from India where we’re very excited about the growth prospects there. We also consider the U.S. to be a lot of opportunity in our home base so we’re excited about all the regions. The business environment is really stepping up and appreciating the value of the finance team as trusted strategic partners.”

The IMA has traditionally offered the Certified Management Accountant, or CMA, certification. In the past year, the total number of CMA candidates increased by over 75 percent.

Last year, the IMA also launched a specialty credential: the CSCA, short for Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis. It builds upon the CMA curriculum to help management accountants master strategic planning and analysis skills.

“The first exam window was just this past September,” said Thomson. “It’s going to take time to ramp up, but it’s off to a strong start. It sits on top of the CMA. It recognizes that increasingly members of our profession are directly or indirectly charged with leading the strategy and communicating the strategy. We’re very excited about the prospects. It’s all about adding value to our CMAs.”

As repetitive tasks are increasingly taken over by artificial intelligence technology, there is more demand for higher-level advisory skills from management accountants. Thomson said he has been delivering a series of presentations across India on the topic of automation and how the accounting profession can best respond to it.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity in our profession to upgrade our skills in data science and data analytics,” he said. “In many ways the existing CMA program helps to address that, but we need to do much more. The CMA program going forward will be doing a job analysis to assess the degree to which additional competencies might need to be tested. In the meantime, we are working on a competency framework that over the next bunch of months that will address this growing trend. Automation is already impacting our profession, whether it’s in the audit or transaction processing, but if we step up to these enhanced advisory analytical competencies, we can actually create more value-added jobs. The prospects are very good for our profession if we step up with a greater sense of urgency in the competency development area. That’s a call to action for the IMA and all of our partners in the accounting profession.”

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