IMA signs partnership with Brazilian accounting regulator

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The Institute of Management Accountants signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Conselho Regional de Contabilidade do Estado de São Paulo (CRC-SP), an accounting regulatory organization in Brazil’s most populous city.

The announcement of the agreement occurred Monday during the IMA’s ongoing Annual Conference and Expo in San Diego and coincides with the IMA’s centennial.

The agreement will support the international advancement of the management accounting profession through IMA membership and promotion of the IMA’s Certified Management Accountant certification among accounting professionals and students in Brazil. CRC-SP is a federal entity representing 150,000 accounting professionals and 20,000 accounting firms within the state of São Paulo, Brazil. The organization is responsible for certifying, enforcing and educating its members.

IMA president and CEO Jeff Thomson signed the agreement with CRC-SP president Marcia Ruiz Alcazar to expand the organizations’ relationship and outline the basis for ongoing cooperation, collaboration and alignment. Partnership elements will include discounted IMA memberships and CMA Scholarships for CRC-SP members and students.

The organizations will encourage their members to attend and present at one another’s conferences: IMA’s ACE and CRC-SP’s bi-annual Convenção. They will also hold one joint event per year beginning in 2019.

“IMA has a strong interest in deepening its relationships and memberships internationally, and by formalizing our partnership with CRC-SP, we are taking an important step toward that goal here in Brazil,” Thomson said in a statement. “We look forward to a fruitful partnership that will support the growth of management accounting and build important skills among professionals throughout the region.”

“CRC-SP is committed to increasing the value of the accounting profession in Brazil,” said Ruiz Alcazar. “We believe that the collaboration between IMA and CRC-SP is a platform for elevating the skills and knowledge of our members, strengthening our continuing education program (NBC PG 12).”

The IMA has been working to expand its presence around the world, and Thomson talked to reporters Monday about the group’s international presence.

“We are probably one of the few accounting associations that’s prominent in the world’s two largest economies: the U.S. and China,” he said. “In China, for example, we will continue to roll out even more local bilingual products and services. We’re one of the few accounting associations that has a complete bilingual experience, so what we bring to the table with these new products is the global breadth of being a voting member of IFAC [International Federation of Accountants], of being a voting member of IIRC [International Integrated Reporting Council] for integrated reporting, of being a founding member of COSO [Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission] for internal controls, but also that local delivery.”

Thomson noted that the state of management accounting varies by geographic jurisdiction and culture. He plans to expand the group into emerging markets.

“We’re getting much heavier into new markets like India and Indonesia,” said Thomson. “Even though we’re 100 years old in the U.S., the U.S. is still a key growth market. We’re going to be launching a new integrated ad campaign within the U.S. by the end of September. It’s a new $5 million ad campaign that leverages our first three years of ad campaigns to create awareness of the CMA program, but also to create awareness of management accounting and the CMA program around the world.”

He noted that the IMA has hundreds of partnerships around the world. “We have many of those partners here,” he added. “At 2:00 pm today, we’ll be signing an agreement with the Brazilian regulatory body in Sao Paulo, kind of like the FASB and the SEC in São Paulo, which is by far the largest market in Brazil. That’s one example, among many others. We’re very excited about what we’ve done as well as what we need to do to build trust in business, to do our part to create an ethical environment, and to prepare our members for digitalization, which is here today.“

The IMA has been emphasizing the need for accountants to get more involved with technology such as data analytics as part of its Management Accounting Competency Framework.

Ginger White, the outgoing chair of the IMA, recently moved from her job as corporate purchasing finance director at Cummins, an Indiana-based provider of power equipment and technology, to becoming chief operating officer at the American Accounting Association. “On the professional side, I recently left corporate America after more than 21 and a half years to join the AAA as chief operating officer on May 1, and I’m really excited about that,” she told reporters. “They’re a great organization and they care about the profession as well, so I’m looking forward to that opportunity. In my career at Cummins, I’ve held various accounting roles. As a Six Sigma Black Belt, I did a lot of data analytics and predictive analytics.”

Christian Cuzick, the incoming chairman of the IMA, is CFO at Johnson & Johnson Vision, a unit at J&J that produces Acuvue contact lenses and laser cataract surgery systems. “Overall it’s about $5 billion and 10,000 employees,” he said. “I have a finance group that’s probably about 150 people. In my day job, I use a lot of what we preach at IMA.” His group at J&J has been pivoting from finance and accounting to the world of data analytics. “I’m kind of living in both camps,” he said. He will be the IMA chairman in about two weeks. Cuzick earned his Certified Management Accountant certificate in 2005 and volunteered as a chapter president in Switzerland when he was living there with his family. “It was exciting to run an international chapter for roughly two and a half years before relocating back to the U.S.,” he said.

Paul Juras, an endowed professor of management accounting and operational performance at Babson College in Massachusetts, will be succeeding Cuzick. He currently chairs the Board of Regents of the Institute of Certified Management Accountants, which is responsible for the CMA certification. “The chair I hold is in connection with management accounting and operational performance,” he said. “Those two things go together, You look at what happens in management accounting and analysis, and it’s all interconnected.”

Alex Eng is the chair emeritus at the IMA and preceded White as chair from 2016 to 2017. He is vice president of U.S. corporate finance at EDF Renewables, the North American renewable headquarters for EDF, the world's largest power utility. “In my last three years, I’ve actually had the opportunity to speak to a large spectrum of members,” he said. “One of the takeaways is the rapid pace of change with respect to technology, with respect to the competencies for individual workers, from the staff members to the senior accountant to the CFO. Everybody is facing a competency challenge with respect to how to execute on your job.”

He noted that companies have been able to leverage technology, but in some cases it has led to shrinking staffing numbers. “We’ve seen our auditing team go from a team of eight to 10 down to a team of three people over the last five years,” he said. “The mission in the management accounting space currently and for the next century or more is attaining the competencies to deliver to our members on a day-to-day basis There’s that awareness of ‘hey, I don’t want to be left behind.’ That’s what IMA delivers. What we provide to our members is a networking group of almost 140,000 members.”

Management accountants can help their companies deal with challenges such as trade wars and tariff threats that can drive up costs. “When you look at our Competency Framework, you see things like strategy and planning and supply chain and operations,” said Thomson. “Fundamentally what you’re talking about here is economic analysis and decision support, and saying, above the politics, companies have to evaluate what the import/export impacts are, what this means in terms of operating costs, what it means in terms of pass-through and strategic pricing. I absolutely see it as a data analytics and economic analysis opportunity, and CMAs are at the forefront of that in their companies.”

White noted that at her former company, some of the suppliers relied on parts from other countries. Tariffs could lead to markups and if a contract did not allow for a markup to happen, that in turn could mean new negotiations. “It makes you have to re-look at your supply chain overall,” said White.

Management accountants may need to analyze different models for various scenarios if tariffs are imposed on a vendor that’s part of the supply chain. “You’re taking numbers from the different models and quantifying what that looks like,” said White. “You figure out how to adapt in the most efficient way. What is today may not be tomorrow, so I think you’re always trying to create those models, and I think that’s right where we are as management accountants.”

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Certified Management Accountants International accounting Analytics Jeff Thomson IMA