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FRAMING THE FUTURE OF OUR PROFESSION

By Jeffrey C. Thomson, CMA, CAE
November 1, 2016
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Dear IMA Members, In 1986, our profession faced a startling truth: Though U.S. universities were turning out steady streams of accounting graduates, a disproportionate number didn’t have the entry-level skills employers expected. This skills gap, first identified by The Bedford Report, published by the American Accounting Association (AAA), continues to this day.

 

At IMA® we believe it’s essential to find real-world solutions for closing the gap between what educators teach and what employers need. That’s why we created the IMA Management Accounting Competency Framework—an all-inclusive map of the core skills required to succeed in the profession and a resource for talent management and career guidance. At the heart of this Framework is the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant), the world’s leading credential in management accounting.

 

The Framework identifies five major pillars of the profession—Planning & Reporting, Decision Making, Technology, Operations, and Leadership—and defines levels of skill proficiency within each. While other frameworks often target the demand side of the profession (the employers), ours captures the supply side (educators) as well. This ecosystem model is integral to IMA’s philosophy—to take a holistic, interconnected approach that addresses all stakeholders within the profession, including employers, management accountants, students, and academia.

 

In supporting academia, we focus on helping professors develop future-ready accounting curricula. We’ve created a Higher Education Endorsement Program and partnered with AAA on a task force to produce a model curriculum that’s balanced, integrated, and reflective of jobs and careers for tomorrow’s management accountant. (See http://bit.ly/2dZxD2E for more information.) In these and other ways, IMA actively tackles the skills gap that affects our profession so critically.

 

Another unique feature of our Framework is that it isn’t static. It’s based on recurring job analyses of the industry and forms the foundation of CareerDriver®, our members-only professional development tool. When IMA members log in, they can assess their skills, use this insight to create personalized development plans, and see how what they discover might translate into real job roles. This is the “how to” of the Framework, and it helps close self-identified skills gaps and advance careers.

 

One important characteristic of any rigorous and credible framework is that it has been exposed to the public for comment, so for two months we gathered your insights in creating this landmark resource. Your feedback indicates we’ve captured the critical competencies that reflect what accountants actually do to create an ethical culture and to help organizations grow and sustain value. You can find the Framework at http://bit.ly/2efOLAs. IMA will continue to hear your voice and update the Framework over time so that our profession keeps pace with market needs.

 

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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