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THE SECRET TO IMA EUROPE’S SUCCESS

By Ella Suponitskiy, CMA, CPA, CAE
November 1, 2016
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Pins in a Map of Europe

One university program in particular appears to be at the heart of the region’s exceptionally high scores on the CMA exam.

 

As part of my role as director of exam operations and grading for the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program, I review the CMA exam results and identify the top 10 performers. These candidates took both parts of the CMA exam in one testing window and scored impressively high. We have top exam performers from every region, but year after year I observed that many CMA award winners consistently come out of the European region. What is it about Europe that develops such exceptional exam performers?

 

On a recent trip to Brussels to attend a meeting as IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) liaison to the IFAC® (International Federation of Accountants®) Professional Accountants in Business Committee, I was fortunate to spend some time with staff members working out of the IMA Europe offices in Zurich. This team supports IMA members in Europe and works to build the association and CMA certification throughout the region. Table 1 shows the top 15 European countries in terms of IMA membership. As you can see, our IMA Europe team covers a number of countries, spanning many different languages as well.

 

Beyond the primary responsibility of serving members throughout Europe, IMA Europe staff also dedicate much of their time to working with European universities to create awareness of the CMA. As a result of their efforts, a number of prestigious European educational institutions offer CMA courses for their students:

 

  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • University of St. Gallen
  • Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
  • University of Bern
  • HEC Paris
  • FHWien University of Applied Sciences of WKW

 

There also are two schools in Europe that are endorsed by the IMA Higher Education Endorsement Program: EBS–European Business School and University of Strathclyde.

 

It was looking at this information about European educational institutions that led me to understand what it is about the European region that develops such high performers on the CMA exam. When I analyzed the educational profiles of our CMA award winners from Europe, I noticed one thing in common—many of them had listed University of St. Gallen in their education profile.

 

The University of St. Gallen has earned a distinguished reputation in Europe and around the world. According to the Financial Times, the school ranks seventh among business schools in Europe and is one of the leading business schools in the world. Recently the Financial Times ranked the school’s master’s program in management (SIM) number one worldwide and its master’s program in finance (MBF) 10th worldwide.

 

I learned that the Institute of Accounting, Control and Auditing of the University of St. Gallen (ACA-HSG) offers a CMA exam preparation course to master’s students, with Oscar A.G. Treyer as CMA instructor supported by Klaus Moeller, the head of the Institute. IMA’s Honorary Professor in Management Accounting for 2016-2018, Moeller is the chair of controlling/performance management at the University of St. Gallen.

 

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ACA-HSG has an impressive track record when it comes to its students’ performance on the CMA exam. Of course, these are also students who are intelligent, hardworking, and studious, having been accepted into a very competitive/selective university in the first place.

 

Students in the university’s master of arts in accounting and finance (MAccFin) program can take the CMA exam preparation course as an elective in the last year of their studies. As a senior lecturer in accounting at St. Gallen, Treyer taught the entire course alone. (In 2015, Treyer received the IMA Faculty Leadership Award, a distinguished service award for educators, in recognition of his exemplary leadership and service to IMA.) The CMA preparation course is offered once a year and runs for 12 weeks. The course is conducted weekly through a two-hour lecture and a two-hour biweekly workshop. It ends with an internal multiple-choice exam at the University of St. Gallen (Parts 1 and 2) so that students are eligible for six ECTS credit points for their master’s program.

 

After completing the course, students are in an excellent position to pass both parts of the actual CMA exam in addition to earning their master’s program diploma from the University of St. Gallen.

 

The success of the CMA exam preparation course is evident by the numbers: Average enrollees for the class have ranged from 28 to 48 over the past five years. The class has also “delivered” 13 great top performers on the CMA exam since 2010:

 

  • Samuel A. Traub: CMA Gold Medal (highest exam score), May/June 2010
  • Andreas Rickli: CMA Bronze Medal (third-highest exam score), May/June 2010
  • Philipp Schumacher: CMA Bronze Medal (third-highest exam score), January/February 2011
  • Marie-France Baume: CMA Bronze Medal (third-highest exam score), May/June 2012
  • Damian Ruppen: Certificate of Distinguished Performance, May/June 2010
  • Patrik J. Spirig: Certificate of Distinguished Performance, September/October 2010
  • Roman Steiner: Certificate of Distinguished Performance, May/June 2011
  • Melanie Bard: Certificate of Distinguished Performance, September/October 2012
  • Alexandra Wiesinger: Priscilla S. Payne Student Performance Award/Certificate of Distinguished Performance, January/February 2013
  • Philipp Andris: Priscilla S. Payne Student Performance Award/Certificate of Distinguished Performance, September/October 2013
  • Nicolas P. Lehmann: CMA Gold Medal (highest exam score), September/ October 2014
  • Christian Vogeli: CMA Bronze Medal (third-highest exam score), January/February 2015
  • Robert Ploss: Priscilla S. Payne Student Performance Award, May/June 2015

 

Other top performers from Europe include:

 

  • Manuel Ruckstuhl, Switzerland: CMA Gold Medal
  • Martin Kopf, Germany: CMA Bronze Medal
  • Michal Borawski, Netherlands: Certificate of Distinguished Performance, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
  • Mehmet Calik, Turkey: Certificate of Distinguished Performance
  • Kemal O. Emekci, Turkey: Certificate
  • of Distinguished Performance
  • Zeliha Ceren Ozmen, Turkey: Certificate
  • of Distinguished Performance
  • David Unterdorfer, Netherlands: CMA Bronze Medal, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
  • Joost De Hoon, Netherlands: Certificate of Distinguished Performance, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
  • Yasin Duran, Turkey: Certificate of Distinguished Performance, Sabanci University Istanbul
  • Saeed Khan, Switzerland: Certificate
  • of Distinguished Performance
  • Daniela Meixner, Germany: Certificate
  • of Distinguished Performance
  • Yi He, Netherlands: Certificate of Distinguished Performance, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
  • Onur Ozdemir, Turkey: Certificate of Distinguished Performance, Boğaziçi University

 

In addition to the enrichment of the students at the University of St. Gallen, IMA also benefits. The class has served as a de facto “feeder system” for IMA’s Switzerland Chapter, with many of the well-educated young members who have taken the course helping to further build the CMA’s brand recognition in Switzerland.

 

Starting this fall, Felix Isbruch will be a new CMA instructor at the University of St. Gallen. Isbruch is taking over the CMA course from Treyer, who will concentrate on completing two textbooks on corporate control and business statistics. We are grateful to Oscar Treyer for his outstanding support of the CMA program. We look forward to continued collaboration with Klaus Moeller and Felix Isbruch and thank everyone for the incredible contributions to the profession.

 

For more information on IMA activities in Europe, please contact imaeurope@imanet.org.

 

Ella Suponitskiy, CMA, CPA, CAE, is the director of exam operations and grading for the CMA exam program at IMA. She can be reached at esuponitskiy@imanet.org.
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