Accountants and financial professionals who provide business leaders with financial information to guide strategic decision making in organizations fill the role of management accountants, and the primary professional organization that supports their endeavors is the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). These finance professionals are critical team members who help senior managers set long term, organizational goals and prepare for program sustainment. The IMA provides accounting practitioners, financial professionals and academics the resources that are needed to build their skills and improve their career prospects. Here are some of those resources.
Professional Development Resources
Accountants, financial managers, students and instructors can access the extensive professional publications offered by the IMA. For example, the organization has a quarterly online journal that provides in depth articles on a variety of issues that impact the accounting and finance community. Some of the topics include ways to improve accounting and finance education, cost accounting techniques and new theories that improve the discipline. While there are associated fees for these resources, most are offered to members automatically if their IMA membership dues have been paid. Many accounting and finance practitioners have professional certifications that must be maintained via the acquisition of continuing education hours, and the IMA provides a large selection of continuing education courses and webinars to meet those requirements. Some examples of continuing education course topics are strategic planning, budgeting, and forecasting methods. Additionally, the IMA demonstrates an unprecedented commitment to accounting and finance professional ethics, and it offers free, real time ethics advice to its members through its ethics center and help line.
Certified Management Accounting Certification Program
One of the most recognized professional credentials that accountants and financial managers can earn is the Certified Management Accounting (CMA) designation that is administered by the IMA. The CMA program is only available to IMA members. A degree from an accredited university, two years of continuous professional experience and a comprehensive two part exam are additional requirements that are needed to earn the CMA credential. The two part exam measures candidate competency in topics like financial planning, risk analysis, internal controls and financial decision making. The exam is scheduled three times per year, and candidates can study and take their tests at their own pace over a one to three year time period. The CMA exam registration fee is $240, and each exam is priced at $395. According to IMA statistics, CMAs’ median salaries are nearly 60 percent higher than those of their non-CMA peers.
Extensive Networking and Career Opportunities
IMA’s reputation as an industry leader for accounting and finance training, as well as the promotion of professional best practices, attracts many business professionals to conferences in the United States and internationally. Event attendees receive continuing education credit and opportunities to network with their professional peers and potential employers. IMA members can also take advantage of the organization’s Leadership Academy that helps practitioners to develop critical finance oriented leadership skills through its engaging webinar instructional series and mentor network.
The IMA has its headquarters in the United States, but its certification program, professional development resources and membership opportunities are recognized and available to financial professionals worldwide. While job growth for accountants and financial managers is expected to be as fast as the average for all jobs surveyed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, savvy professionals can seek enhanced career opportunities through their association with the Institute of Management Accountants.