In the photo above, IMA senior staff members meet with officers of the newly relaunched IMA Korea Chapter (pictured from l. to r.: Jim Piechowski; M.J. Lee, chapter VP; Jeff Thomson; Steve Sang Ki Lee, chapter president; and Ryan Hong, chapter secretary).
Jeff Thomson, IMA president and CEO, led the six-day trip, accompanied by Jim Piechowski, IMA director of international operations and global business development. They were accompanied by volunteer leader Brad Monterio, incoming IMA Global Board of Directors member, with assistance from key contacts in the region. In Japan, contacts included Professor Takashi Shimizu, dean, graduate school of accountancy, Waseda University; Michihiro Sakurai, founder of the Japanese Education Institute of Management Accounting (JEIMA); and Dr. Ryo Yanagi, CFO of Eisai Co., Ltd., one of Japan’s largest pharmaceuticals companies. In Korea, contacts included incoming IMA Board members Rob Mars and Jay Choi, as well as chapter leaders Sang-Ki Lee and Hyun Pyo Hong. Also helping arrange the trip was Nina Michels-Kim, IMA director of business development, who is supporting IMA’s efforts in Japan.
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
Commenting on IMA’s presence and strategic approach to the region, Thomson explained, “IMA is committed to serving our members around the world and to expanding our research and education opportunities to match the changing demographics of our membership. We’re also helping to prepare for a future that will include more data analytics, digitization, and incorporation of technology. By visiting members in the countries where they live and work, IMA leadership can gain a better understanding of the skills and knowledge needed inside of a particular market and better ensure that we align our strategy with those needs.”
The trip kicked off in Japan, where Thomson and Monterio represented IMA at the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) Global Conference, conducted in partnership with the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN). The event was held at the Tokyo Stock Exchange and was hosted by the Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (JICPA) and the Japan Exchange Group. This conference was the IIRC’s first international conference in 2018 and the first global conference it has held in Asia.
The gathering attracted nearly 500 investors, academicians, accountants, and corporate managers from around the world. Key topics included ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance), intangibles, and corporate value. Among the slate of speakers was Yanagi, secretary of IMA’s Tokyo Chapter, who observed: “Given the corporate governance reforms led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called ‘Abenomics,’ Japanese corporate managers are now increasingly under pressure to enhance corporate value. To that end, we are witnessing a dramatic makeover in many ways after ‘lost decades’ in Japan, including once-stagnant Japanese return on equity and stock prices almost doubling in the last five years. At the same time, Japan is still very much in the middle of improving corporate governance.”
A NEW CHAPTER
In Japan, Thomson also met with members of IMA’s Tokyo Chapter as well as with faculty and administrators from Waseda University, among the highest-ranking universities in the country. At these events, well-attended by CFOs, students, and academics, Thomson spoke about the future of the management accounting profession in the age of artificial intelligence and data analytics. His message: “Be a value steward and a value creator.”
Additional meetings in Tokyo included those with the TAC Co., Ltd., a CMA review course provider, and JEIMA, an influential professional association focused on educating management accountants. Thanks to an introduction by longtime IMA member Akihiko Miki, director of finance and planning at IBM Global Technology Services, Thomson also met with approximately 50 members of the corporate finance team at IBM Japan, Ltd., where they discussed the future of the profession.
Thomson said, “Over the past several years, IMA’s fastest growth in terms of both membership and CMA candidates has come from the Asia region. While China has certainly accounted for the majority of this growth, we’ve also seen significant expansion in other parts of Asia, including Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, and more. This increasing presence means that more professionals are learning about the core skills needed by today’s management accountant: planning and reporting, decision making, technology, operations, and leadership.”
OPEN LINES OF COMMUNICATION
During their time in Seoul, South Korea, the IMA team met with two prominent course providers, Academy of International Finance and Accounting (AIFA) and Global Academy for the Accounting Profession. The team also met with finance executives from Omnicom/BBDO, the global media conglomerate, as well as with the CFO Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce, a powerful organization within Korea. Thomson also conducted an informational presentation, “The Future of Accounting,” for top-level university professors and corporate CFOs at a meeting sponsored by the Management Accounting Association of Korea (MAAK).
Choi, an officer with the IMA Korea Chapter, was instrumental in helping restart that chapter, which now boasts approximately 250 members. Remarking on Thomson’s visit, he said, “We were very pleased that Jeff and his team came to Korea to meet with us. Everywhere he went, Jeff was greeted with enthusiasm by our members as well as by those who are just learning about IMA. We hope that we continue to keep the lines of communication open, as there is a clear, growing demand for the kinds of expertise, education, and certification that IMA offers.”
Piechowski added, “IMA is very excited to keep expanding the reach of the CMA throughout the world and most prominently into other parts of Asia, including our new offices in India, China, and Singapore, and our recent visits with IMA members, CMAs, and important partners in Japan and Korea.
“Globalization has been a significant driver for our continued expansion. As economies rapidly develop across the globe, more skilled finance and accounting professionals are needed to blend finance and technology to better prepare for an ever-advancing digital future.”
Piechowski noted that many countries, such as China and India in Asia, are on a fast-growth path as they shift from developing-nation status to being developed or advanced. Other countries, such as Japan and South Korea, are already developed and are quickly transforming to keep up with the changing needs of businesses today and to continue to compete in a global market.
According to the most recent Global Economic Conditions Survey, a quarterly survey cosponsored by IMA and ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), economic confidence in the Asia-Pacific region improved in the first quarter of 2018 and now stands at its second-highest level on record. A number of countries in the region, including Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, and Malaysia, are growing at, or close to, multiyear highs.
Thomson noted, “We’re pleased that these visits enable us to better understand what will be needed to lead the organizations of the future.”