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IMA 100 Years: Evolving with the Profession

By Dennis R. Beresford, CMA, CFM, CPA
November 1, 2019
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One of my mentors at Ernst & Ernst in 1962 told me, “We’re starting a new NAA chapter near where you live, and I think you should join.” Those words of encouragement were all I needed to start my involvement.

 

In my professional lifetime, NAA (National Association of Accountants) changed to IMA® and E&E evolved into EY. In fact, the entire accounting world has changed dramatically, and my continuing participation in IMA has helped me keep pace.

 

I was at the bottom of the accounting “food chain” as a new staff accountant mingling with corporate controllers and other finance professionals at early chapter meetings. But I soon found that even a neophyte like me was welcome to help with chapter management as an assistant director and in other ways.

 

Showing enthusiasm and some ability in those roles meant promotion to leadership positions, and I became chapter president about nine years later. These outside development opportunities contributed greatly to my progress within EY and helped lead to a transfer to the national office technical accounting function just as my chapter presidency ended.

 

That was an exciting time because the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) began establishing Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) a couple of years later, and I had to spend a lot of time helping our professional staff and clients cope with the new rules. I also continued my IMA involvement—as a national director, a vice president, and program chairman for two Annual Conferences.

 

Perhaps more important, I was an active member of the Management Accounting Practices Committee (now Financial Reporting Committee) that helped IMA members contend with the new GAAP. So I continued to combine work and outside activities as I evolved with the profession.

 

While I was in the EY national office, IMA created the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program. As a longtime IMA member, I wanted to support the new program. But as an EY partner, I also wanted to know whether it was worthwhile for some of our people to become CMAs. So I took the first exam and was fortunate to pass all parts and become CMA No. 6! (I later recommended the program to my colleagues.)

 

I didn’t expect to leave EY before retirement, but becoming FASB chairman in 1987 was such an honor (and challenge!) I couldn’t say no. I continued my IMA membership during that time but couldn’t participate directly in committees or certain other roles. I did make a point of welcoming the FRC to meet with the Board annually at our offices to share perspectives. And I spoke at the IMA Annual Conference and numerous regional and local IMA meetings.

 

My post-FASB years have included teaching at the University of Georgia and serving as a director and audit committee chairman for several large, public companies. And IMA welcomed me back as a member of the FRC, where I still participate.

 

I’m proud to have been a small part of the changes that have occurred in my profession in my lifetime. And I’m equally proud to have had IMA, now 100 years strong, backing me all the way.

 

Dennis R. Beresford, CMA, CFM, CPA, former FASB chairman and former EY partner, is Executive in Residence at the Terry College of Business, University of Georgia. You can reach Denny at dberesfo@uga.edu.
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