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EXCELLING AS BUSINESS PARTNERS

By Jeffrey C. Thomson, CMA, CAE
May 1, 2015
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Dear IMA Members,

 

It’s an exciting time to be a management accountant and a member of the CFO team in industry. CFO teams are influencers around the globe in the areas of value preservation (safeguarding of assets, closing the books, filing statutory reports, transaction processing) and value creation (serving as strategic advisors and business partners with increasing accountability for mergers and acquisitions, operations, and technology). They are becoming true business partners.

 

CFOs are doing more of the day-to-day operations, weighing in on policies and plans along with the CEO instead of simply providing the numbers. They are advisors, leading change in areas such as performance management and relationship building with internal and external customers.

 

But these opportunities for growth have unveiled challenges, such as a growing gap between the need for a broadened skill set and knowledge base for the C-suite and their finance staff and what accounting educators and curricula teach. Since 1994, IMA has developed a stream of research to help solve this competency crisis by explaining the roles/activities performed by management accountants and how to evolve to a “full-service” business partner. And the recent IMA® and ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) study, “Financial Insight: Challenges and Opportunities,” notes that business departments and their finance organization need to focus on three key areas: (1) creating a sustainable mandate for finance-business partnering practices to flourish, (2) fixing and reworking the quality of data insights provided to the enterprise, and (3) deploying the right finance talent with the right mind-set to deliver (http://bit.ly/1DmBsCx).

 

IMA resources can help. The CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification validates mastery of the advanced skills required to manage finance functions within an organization. By focusing on these skills, the CMA exam is rigorous yet in line with on-the-job practice. Also, IMA’s Leadership Academy offers 24 robust courses online or in person.

 

You can learn more on June 24 at IMA’s 96th Annual Conference & Expo in Los Angeles, Calif., where I’ll be moderating a CFO panel with Amie Thuener, chief accountant of Google; IMA Chair-Elect Ben Mulling, CFO of TENTE Casters, Inc.; and Brian Neale, finance manager at General Mills. These three successful management accountant executives will offer personal examples and provide tips for excelling as strategic business partners.

 

Jeffrey C. Thomson, CMA, CAE, is IMA president and CEO. He also is a member of IMA’s Bergen-Rockland-Meadowlands Chapter. You can reach Jeff at jthomson@imanet.org or follow him on Twitter: @IMA_JeffThomson.
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