CIMA: 100 years and beyond

CIMA: 100 years and beyond

As CIMA turns 100 it reflects on how the accounting industry has changed over the last century and considers what is to come next

This month, 100 years ago, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), was founded by seven forward-looking industry leaders. Their goal was to create a new breed of accountant to help businesses deal with the challenges of the early 20th century. One hundred years later and you can find our members and students in 184 countries, at the cutting edge of finance, guiding decision makers and driving business transformation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

CIMA has always aimed to drive the profession forwards while respecting its heritage and embracing the future. On the 31st January this year, we delivered the findings of one of our most important research projects to date, which looked at what the future holds for management accounting.

The report: Re-inventing finance for a digital world, contains the insights of conversations with 5,500 finance professionals, 2,000 employers from over 150 countries. It showed us 50% of finance leaders globally, feel their teams’ competencies must “change significantly” in the next three years.

But, it also highlighted that many finance professionals aren’t updating their skillsets fast enough to take advantage of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and robotics. Additional research we carried out in partnership with Oracle called, Agile Finance Unleashed, reinforced the need for change. It established that 90% of finance leaders feel their teams lack the skills needed to support their business’ digital transformation.

For many businesses, changing their finance function from a cost centre to a value centre is a highly strategic move. For finance teams this means closing the gap between the “old world” of reporting and compliance and the “new world” of guidance and driving the business.

Yet, most finance teams haven’t adjusted their day-to-day activities to match this value shift. In fact, our research found that hindsight reporting still makes up 65% of a finance team’s report outputs and only a third (36%) of time is spent communicating insights to influence decision-making and guiding actions that create value for the organisation. As processes become automated, real-time reporting and constant performance information is expected by many business leaders.

To thrive, finance professionals need to develop new skills and competencies that complement their traditional finance and accounting skills. They must have basic digital literacy and to be able to understand how digital technologies can disrupt business models. They also need to make a wholesale change in mind-set.

It’s no longer enough to make updates to our skill-sets from time to time. The frequency now needs to reflect the heady pace of change. We need to become proactive learners who continuously learn, unlearn and re-learn new skills to deal with complexity and operate in an agile working environment.

CIMA is therefore using its centenary milestone to focus on technology and the future of this profession. We have just updated the CIMA Professional Qualification syllabus to cover areas such digital costing and strategy, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

We have incorporated digital skills into the CGMA competency framework so our Members and Students develop the broadest spectrum of skills and can create sustainable careers. We also launched new CPD programmes to give finance professionals (members and non-members) access to the latest insights and learning in emerging technologies and fields like emotional intelligence.

As part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the organisation we founded with The American Institute of CPAs in 2017, we’re bringing additional resources and best practices to all finance and accounting professionals worldwide, so they can play their part in driving the accounting profession forward and serve society at large.

There is a lot for us all to do over the coming months and years. Some of it will be challenging in ways we’ve never experienced before but, the majority will be exciting. To make sure we meet all the challenges head on, and continue to lead the profession, we’re committed to operating with an agile mind-set, and embracing new technologies and techniques.

 

This guest post was written by Steven Swientozielskyj, FCMA, CGMA, President of The Charted Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)

 

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