IMA Moments

Persevering during the Pandemic

By Richard Li
August 20, 2020
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The year 2020 is truly momentous in history. As the COVID-19 pandemic grips the world, there have been tremendous challenges that humanity has never faced before—both China and the rest of the world.

 

Many of the world’s top megacities have been brought to a virtual standstill, giving us an opportunity for reflection. At IMA, we never stop self-reflection as we cope with the pandemic, and we’ve gained a deeper understanding about our vision, mission, and responsibilities in times of difficulty. I believe that it will be a defining experience for every one of us.

 

IMA China took the initiative to minimize the impact of the pandemic shortly after it broke out by setting up an emergency decision-making mechanism, performing risk assessment, devising preparedness plans, and introducing an appropriate personnel arrangement for working remotely. Meanwhile, we’ve been monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and government guidance daily to ensure that our business operations are in full compliance with laws and regulations, including the government’s tax and social-security policies. All these measures have been crucial during the pandemic, putting us on a solid footing for smooth operations in these challenging times.

 

COMMUNITY-MINDED

 

We’ve also been working hard to fulfill our social responsibility. For example, IMA made a sizable monetary donation to China’s Hubei Province, which was among the hardest hit by COVID-19, through the provincial Department of Finance. In addition, to ensure the safety and health of our candidates, examiners, and staff, we’ve postponed many CMA exam dates amid the pandemic. Candidates have been allowed to submit all required documents, including their educational background and work experience, electronically. Our staff in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Chengdu, China, worked from home to provide high-quality service to our CMAs and candidates.

 

As we’ve shifted to remote working, it’s particularly important to have in place a robust communication mechanism for our staff, partners, IMA members, and CMA candidates. There’s no doubt that virtual meetings and platforms are of great technical help, but more importantly, we need to have our stakeholders and the broader finance and accounting profession believe that by working together, we can come out of this global challenge and emerge stronger than before.

 

PROVIDING RESOURCES

 

During the coronavirus disruption, we launched free resources to help professionals upskill by expanding their body of knowledge, including IMA Digital Forum, the Count Me In podcast series, IMA Technology and Analytics Center, theWeChat Mini Program, and IMA Learning Management System (LMS).

 

All these resources are designed to help our candidates to prepare for the CMA exams and stay current with valuable insights from business leaders and experts, the latest industry trends, disruptive technologies such as data analytics and robotic process automation, and continuous professional development and education opportunities.

 

Additionally, with support from IMA’s U.S. office, we made select IMA resources available for free to nonmembers for 90 days to help accounting and finance professionals to keep moving forward during this disruption. This tough situation won’t prevent our candidates from continuing to grow, learn, and upskill. IMA stands ready to offer more opportunities and high-quality resources to those in our profession.

 

In fact, our business operations have remained on the right track despite the outbreak of the coronavirus. We’ve been working with our partners to step up the pace of our growth in China. For example, we’ve completed a joint research project with Shanghai National Accounting Institute (SNAI) based on more than 1,000 questionnaires collected in the shortest time possible. “Chinese Enterprises Facing the Impact of the COVID-19 Epidemic–A Survey of Challenges and Responses” sheds lights on operational difficulties, employee management, and social responsibilities with effective approaches to dealing with the pandemic.

 

STRONG PARTNERSHIPS

 

We’ve been partnering with SNAI for the CFO Competence Framework and Leadership Research projects, which have made progress in phases. Furthermore, partnering with Ping’An Group and Xiamen National Accounting Institute, we’ve settled on a joint research topic and will carry out a fascinating research project. We’ve jointly launched a new continuing professional education (CPE) program, an IMA Online Education Center, which can be accessed via the Beijing National Accounting Institute (BNAI) website, and a selection of management accounting courses with BNAI.

 

We’ve also reached memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreements with the College of International Business at Shanghai International Studies University, China Chamber of International Commerce, and Shanghai Pudong Foreign Investment Association to help businesses innovate in finance management and develop interdisciplinary talent in management accounting with an international mind-set.

 

IMA has always been committed to providing a forum for research, practice development, education, knowledge sharing, and the advocacy of the highest ethical standards and best practices in management accounting and finance. During the pandemic, IMA has maintained close communication with government agencies, industry associations, businesses, and academic institutions and achieved impressive results in academic research, talent development, and networking with our partners.

 

For our staff and partners, IMA’s encouraging business development is the strongest impetus to help them maintain confidence. We’ve successfully brought positive energy to our stakeholders by posting our pipeline of events and latest partnership projects on our official WeChat account. We send positive messages that we’ll continue to forge ahead in high spirits even in the toughest of times.

 

Going forward, we may be challenged by a looming global recession and a new normal that features regular pandemic prevention and control measures. Without effective vaccines and medicines, the risk of a second wave of coronavirus infections is real. For example, Beijing recently faced a grim situation as it raised its public health emergency response from the third to the second level due to a cluster of local infections, the first outbreak in almost two months. This prompted our Beijing staff to work from home again until further notice. That said, I believe that our previous experience in coping with COVID-19 disruption will enable us to navigate the uncharted waters ahead with more courage and confidence, and our China staff will keep growing and serving as vital contributors to society.

 

For both countries and individuals, a heavy price has been paid in our efforts to tackle this crisis. We’ve all gained a deeper understanding about responsibility, justice, and kindness as we strive to build a better world.

 



Richard Li is a vice president and the chief representative for China at IMA. You can reach him at richard.li@imanet.org.
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