Ever try to climb a ladder when the first two steps are missing?

You won’t get very far.

It is kind of like entering the accounting and finance profession without a domain-specific certification. The problem is your career ladder is missing some critical steps.

A proof point of this is a recent Inside Higher Ed survey of 1,250 two- and four-year student respondents from 58 institutions, which asked them about their post-college career goals and how well college has been at preparing them. This is what the survey found:

  • “The majority, 8 in 10 students, agreed, ‘college should be preparing them for a job or career they love.’ But only 4 in 10 students agreed that ‘their college is effectively preparing them.’”

Historically in accounting and finance, certification programs were designed to teach advanced skills, not the fundamentals early career professionals need to succeed. Basic finance and basic accounting skills like financial statement preparation and analysis (FP&A), planning and budgeting, cost management, and performance metrics were an after-thought, an assumed body of knowledge many early career professionals lacked.

IMA recognized this knowledge gap and decided to develop a certification early career professionals could call their own, the new FMAA™ (Financial and Managerial Accounting Associate) certification program. Many see the FMAA as the answer to accounting and finance’s current talent pipeline issue (according to the WSJ, nearly 300,000 accountants and auditors have recently left the profession). When early career professionals are better prepared to assume new roles in accounting and finance, the likelihood they will stay in the profession is significantly greater.

The recent decline in enrollment in undergraduate accounting programs poses challenges for organizations and a society that relies on accountants, auditors, and finance professionals for integrity in financial reporting, establishment of proper controls, risk mitigation, and other critical functions.

As accounting programs compete with other STEM disciplines like computer science and data analytics, many thought leaders believe the profession needs a new image. Showcasing the technology involved in accounting and finance is one strategy large companies like XEROX are employing to attract talented college grads to their accounting and finance teams. Oracle has taken a similar approach, highlighting how generative AI is reducing the manual work formerly associated with accounting, and offering recent college grads the opportunity to experiment with ways of using ChatGPT to eliminate routine (and probably boring) tasks.

But even as advanced technology transforms the profession, a strong foundation in the fundamentals of accounting and finance is critical. Organizational decision-making increasingly depends on professionals trained to add value in activities like strategic planning, forecasting, and data analysis. IMA’s FMAA certification gives early career professionals the foundation they need to take on these activities and assume an increasingly impactful roles within the organization.

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