Businesses face an ever-increasing amount of change and uncertainty. From supply chain disruptions caused by trade conflict, to enhanced government regulation, to the disruptive impact of technology, finance professionals must contend with enormous pressures on their bottom lines – and a corresponding need to answer to anxious CEOs, board members, and shareholders. If accountants were ever number crunchers – reporting the profits and losses while leaving explanation and strategy to others – they are no longer.

The management accounting profession sits at the intersection of finance, technology, analysis, strategy, and leadership, poised on the cusp of a new era of challenges and opportunities that will remake the finance function and the global business landscape. Management accountants not only count the dots, but connect them, learning why profits are up or down, why growth is accelerating or stalling – and from those insights can help transition from bookkeeper to strategic business partner, devising plans for long-term solvency and progress. But what are the skills and competencies that management accountants need to successfully master and apply?

IMA’s newly enhanced Management Accounting Competency Framework aims to identify the core skills of the management accounting profession, keeping up-to-date with the latest trends in the field and in business in general. The framework, in turn, informs the new 2020 curriculum for the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification program. The competencies are sorted into six domains that reflect just how complex the finance professional’s role is in the 21st Century:

  • Strategic Management
  • Reporting and Control
  • Technology and Analytics
  • Business Acumen and Operations
  • Leadership
  • Professional Ethics and Values

To further promote the CMA and – by extension – the six domains of fundamental competencies, IMA has launched a new global ad campaign that emphasizes how, by becoming certified, a management accountant develops the skills necessary to advance within their organizations and achieve a seat at the leadership table. After mastering the framework’s core skills, finance professionals are able to answer key questions that elude those without certification (the humorous anchor television spot for the campaign can be viewed here).

The CMA provides a major boost to finance professionals’ careers and salaries, as IMA’s 2019 Global Salary Survey clearly shows. But businesses also have to pay closer attention to certification when making decisions around hiring, promoting, and training employees in their finance departments. Just as the individuals who master the core competencies of management accounting will have an edge in the future, so too will organizations that promote these skills. And in a world in constant, disorienting flux, an up-to-speed finance function attuned to the needs of the future will be an enormous strategic asset.

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