The Institute of Management Accountants has revamped its Certified Management Accountant certification to make it more relevant for today’s financial environment.

The new certification program, which rolls out May 1, focuses more on areas such as financial planning, analysis, control and decision support. “The reason we changed, and the reason any professional certification changes, is that we need to keep current with the market,” Dennis Whitney, senior vice president of the IMA’s Institute of Certified Management Accountants, told me. “We need to keep the exam relevant. Technology changes, regulations change, the skills that are needed on the job change.”

The institute updated its curriculum after interviewing practicing accountants in the field, along with managers, controllers and CFOs, to find out what kinds of skills are most needed today. Some of the new areas in the curriculum include corporate fraud, risk management, ethics, corporate governance and International Financial Reporting Standards.

Like the AICPA with its Uniform CPA Exam and the U.K.’s Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the institute has found that accounting skills need to evolve constantly to keep pace with the fast-changing financial environment around the world.

Whitney noted that CMAs now require 30 hours of continuing education every year, including two hours of ethics education. Compliance and regulation are no doubt contributing factors in the changing requirements. As regulators step up their oversight of the accounting profession and the financial industry to meet the outcry in the wake of the global economic crisis, new skills in risk management and fraud detection will become ever more essential in the profession.