A new report by IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants), Essential Management Accounting Competencies for all Entry-Level Accountants, details the management accounting competencies all entry-level accounting and corporate finance professionals should possess to be relevant and influential in the Digital Age. Among its key recommendations, the report calls on colleges and universities to require two distinct management accounting courses—introductory and intermediate—for all accounting students.

The 32-page report was authored by IMA’s Management Accounting Competency Task Force, a group of IMA volunteer leaders. To develop its recommendations, the Task Force first sought comments from external panels of academics and practitioners, then exposed a draft report for public comment. Feedback received was incorporated into the Task Force’s final report.

The report notes that, as new technologies automate many tasks historically performed by accountants and the disruptive nature of the global business environment persists, the traditional accounting curriculum is no longer fit for purpose with its primary emphasis on audit, tax, and reporting standards. IMA’s Management Accounting Competency Task Force has identified the essential management accounting competencies needed by all professional accountants. These competencies are accompanied by suggested learning objectives, outcomes, and course topics.

“Skill sets that were sufficient in the past are no longer adequate for meeting the need of today’s professional accountant,” said Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA Research Foundation Committee chair and chair of IMA’s Management Accounting Competency Task Force. “Schools need to reassess what is being taught in their programs regarding management accounting given the significant changes currently occurring in practice.”

“It is imperative that entry level accountants in all parts of the profession have the management accounting competencies to meet the needs of business and society in an environment that is increasingly complex and uncertain,” said Roopa Venkatesh, Ph.D., CMA, chair of IMA’s Committee on Academic Relations. “In this Digital Age, competencies in decision support, data modelling, financial planning and analysis, performance management, including nonfinancial measures, and more, are necessary to drive the business forward.”

The IMA Task Force argues that management accounting courses must be included in the accounting curriculum and recommends that they be taught by management accounting specialists who are subject matter experts. 

Visit the IMA website to view additional research reports on The Future of Management Accounting.