AICPA and CIMA Launch CGMA Management Accounting Designation

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 Print Email

The American Institute of CPAs and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants formally launched their Chartered Global Management Accountant designation on Tuesday with a joint event in New York and London.

The CGMA designation is intended to elevate the discipline of management accounting by establishing global quality standards for ethics and performance. In the U.S. it reinforces the professional capabilities of CPAs working in business and will give them access to competency-enhancing resources. The AICPA and the CIMA are offering the CGMA as a joint venture between the two U.S. and U.K.-based organizations.

CGMA designees must be regular AICPA voting members with at least three years of management accounting experience or be members of the CIMA. In the U.S., CGMA holders must have passed the four-part Uniform CPA Examination. For those outside the U.S., the CIMA curriculum includes 10 professional qualification exams. An additional CGMA competency assessment will be added in 2015.

The CGMA has attracted some controversy since the AICPA governing council approved it last May. The head of a rival group, the Institute of Management Accountants, has pointed out that the AICPA is essentially giving away the new designation to CPAs over a six-month auto-enrollment period without requiring any special training in management accounting, at least for now. The AICPA is planning to market the new credential through a revenue-sharing deal with state CPA societies. However, the AICPA has defended the new credential as adding value to CPAs with management accounting experience. It is also part of a larger push by the AICPA to expand the CPA beyond U.S. borders through testing abroad and other initiatives.

“Today’s announcement of the new CGMA is the culmination of a long-standing effort to help companies experience the maximum integration between financial and non-financial information to drive the business’s growth, and to include that information in the financial reporting process,” said AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon. “CGMAs will accomplish that by managing change, risk and uncertainty, and promoting operational efficiency and effectiveness while also protecting corporate assets. The bottom line is that CGMAs help organizations be better informed to make decisions. Those holding the CGMA will be acknowledged as trusted business strategists who can connect the dots between financial fundamentals and physical assets, and a broader array of performance factors. Our goal is to build the premier management accounting designation, leveraging the CPAs’ strengths in the U.S., and expanding awareness of their role here and abroad.”

He noted that by recognizing management accounting expertise and qualifying experience, the CGMA will complement the knowledge, skill set and commitment to a code of conduct of CPAs while demonstrating to stakeholders the full value of a company, including non-financial matters.

“CGMAs will be instrumental in moving the focus from short-term financial results to longer-term business strategy based on a web of elements that goes beyond the numbers,” Melancon added. “The CGMA represents a landmark opportunity for CIMA and AICPA members.”

CIMA chief executive Charles Tilley said the new CGMA designation would be relevant in every corner of the globe. “There never has been a better time for management accounting, and the business community has never had such an urgent need for management accountants,” he said. “We all see and recognize that the world economy is going through a dramatic period of change, and this is both economically and environmentally. The very axis of the business world is shifting. The economic challenges may be most evident in the U.S. and in Europe, but actually no country or market is immune.”

He noted that CIMA and the AICPA are unveiling a global report in which Oxford Economics surveyed nearly 300 CEOs in 21 countries. The survey found that 75 percent of the CEO respondents admitted that there is room for improvement in the measurement of non-financial value. Only 51 percent of the CEOs surveyed said their organizations currently measure the value of non-financial assets well or very well. According to 87 percent of the respondents, transparency is an opportunity, but approximately 70 percent agreed that it is difficult to find the right balance between being open and protecting commercially sensitive information.

Both the New York and London sites of the joint event hosted a panel of executives who discussed some of the implications of the report. In the U.K., Roger Tomlinson, finance director of business partnering at Rolls-Royce, said he had worked for the luxury car maker for over 40 years. “Transparency wasn’t here originally,” he noted. “But we’ve made great strides over the years.”

However, on the New York panel, Chris Stanley, vice president and CFO of global network services for the Americas at American Express, said the charge card provider has “very structured training in terms of what can be shared at the company.”

The panelists talked about social media and whether it was safe to disclose sensitive information through sites like Facebook and Twitter, as young people routinely do nowadays, but many of the panelists were uncomfortable with providing too much information through social media. However, several panelists did indicate a willingness to move toward an “integrated” reporting model that provides both financial and non-financial information, including environmental and social initiatives at companies.

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