American Institute of CPAs Proposes Expanding Joint Venture with CIMA

Posted on January 27, 2016 View More News

Legendary investor Warren Buffett has a saying: “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” This quote underscores the importance of anticipating and preparing today for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow.

The CPA profession has a long history of doing just that. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) currently are working on a wide variety of initiatives to enhance the relevance and vibrancy of the profession far into the future. These initiatives include programs to promote the value of CPAs as trusted business advisors, enhance audit quality, broaden the definition of attest, help firms identify and remedy issues during A&A engagements, evolve the Uniform CPA Exam, attract the next generation of talent, and meet the information and educational needs of members in public accounting, business, government and specialized services.

In response to the needs of members working in corporations of all ownership structures and sizes, the AICPA formed a joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in 2011. CIMA is the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants. Founded in 1919, CIMA represents more than 227,000 members and students operating in 179 countries, working in industry, commerce and not-for-profit organizations. In January 2012, the two organizations launched the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation. The number of CGMA designation holders is now more than 150,000 worldwide, with over 50,000 in the U.S.

Now, the AICPA and CIMA are beginning a conversation with their respective members about a proposal to integrate their operations, strategy and management through a newly formed association. The AICPA would continue to serve members and protect, promote and grow the CPA profession. The new association aims to maximize efficiencies and provide a broader platform for further enhancing advocacy, promoting public and management accounting on campuses and with employers and clients, and developing new research and educational offerings. According to Arleen Thomas, CPA, CGMA, AICPA Senior Vice President-Management Accounting and Global Markets, “A presence in Europe will dramatically increase our ability to advocate for members on international matters that are increasingly impacting the U.S. securities system. In addition, the proposal would enable the profession to achieve even greater influence domestically and internationally and broaden the appeal of accounting to the next generation of professionals.”

Unwavering Commitment to the CPA

“Our strategy is built on the power of ‘And,’” said Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA, AICPA President and CEO. “The AICPA would continue to maintain an unwavering commitment to the CPA, promote high standards for ethics and quality, and protect the public interest and the core values of the CPA profession. What we would gain through this new association with CIMA is the further professionalization of management accounting. Financial reporting is stronger when we drive quality in both public and management accounting.”

Trends Driving Need for Evolution

The CPA profession has a history of anticipating – and adjusting to – changes in market demands. The profession has grappled with and developed solutions to address increasing complex technology, specialization, and evolving business structures; these drove such evolutionary steps as the computerization of the CPA Exam, non-CPA firm ownership and the adoption of cloud computing solutions.

Current trends and challenges on the horizon have been carefully assessed by the AICPA as part of its ongoing strategic planning process. With record membership numbers and the CPA reputation at the highest level, the AICPA believes that the time is right to pursue a proposal that will better enable the profession to tackle such factors as:

 The growing worldwide talent shortage and associated demand for ever higher levels of specialized knowledge and services

 Significant demographic and generational shifts

 The increasing number of accounting graduates bypassing professional affiliation and the associated commitment to a professional code of conduct

 The shift of economic growth toward Asian and emerging markets

 The greater international mindset of today’s graduates and the overall trend toward more international connectedness and interdependencies

 Regulatory impact coming from Europe and other parts of the world that are affecting businesses in the U.S.

 The need for finance professionals, facing an increasingly competitive job market, to differentiate themselves from their peers and demonstrate greater strategic management and business partnering skills

Building on Existing Joint Venture’s Success

Approximately 50 percent of most state CPA society and AICPA members work in businesses of all sizes and ownership structures. Creating the CGMA offered these professionals a complementary designation and enhanced resources. Since the designation’s launch, the American Institute of CPAs and CIMA have delivered nearly 120 reports and tools plus online events and career development resources to members seeking to increase their knowledge and hone critical skills for the future. The organizations also developed the CGMA Competency Framework and the Global Management Accounting Principles. In addition, so that members and employers could better assess and address accountants’ skills and competency gaps, the organizations launched the AICPA | CIMA Competency and Learning platform. The tool also analyzes public accounting skills, such as those related to assurance as well as employee benefit plan and governmental audits.

CGMA designation holders also have access to the CGMA Magazine, the CGMA Finance Impact Tool, numerous reports and case studies on best practices, and the Harvard ManageMentor online learning and performance support resource program. The website is the hub for all of these resources and more.

Benefits of the Proposal

To preserve our relevance and stature, the profession needs to embrace change and consider innovative ways to better anticipate, reflect and lead. The work between the AICPA and CIMA has contributed greatly to the professionalization of management accounting, and that is much needed today. The proposal would bring together the entire accounting profession and extend the influence of a CPA-led accounting profession in the U.S.”

Strengthening the bond between the two organizations would streamline resources and create efficiencies to help both organizations move faster to market and produce content with broader perspective, especially on international business issues, which are increasingly impacting CPA firm clients. In particular, the AICPA cites the gains in advocacy that could be realized when speaking on behalf of more than 600,000 current and next generation accounting professionals. The association of the AICPA and CIMA would form the most influential body for the accounting profession, within the U.S. and globally, advocating on tax, audit, financial reporting and other issues important to members.

What’s Next?

Gaining member insights into the AICPA and CIMA evolution is critical to helping the Institute’s governing Council determine its next course of action. Council will assess member feedback and consider authorizing a member ballot in the spring. Moving forward would require a vote by members, with a majority of those voting supporting the proposal. CIMA has a similar requirement and timeline.

Members are encouraged to visit to find out more about what they could gain from a deeper relationship with CIMA and provide feedback on the proposal.


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