Fierce competition, even in a not-for-profit mission orientation, serves to benefit IMA members and customers with a relentless and unwavering emphasis on value and innovation. Do you agree? My bimonthly column as your CEO is generally meant to inform, educate, and maybe even inspire you. But every now and then, I want to provoke you just a bit, as I will in this column, to incent some conversation and thought.

You may have seen an announcement from IMA noting that ICMA® (Institute of Certified Management Accountants) has certified more than 48,000 CMAs to date, new CMAs have grown at a rate of more than 25% per year for the past five years, and nearly 27,000 candidates around the world are actively studying for the CMA exam. The CMA is the leading management accounting certification globally, but not because of the numbers and growth. The CMA is respected, relevant, and rigorous, and it carries with it the highest standards of integrity and trust in exam credentialing. Employers seeking to fill critical positions have confidence that every CMA they hire has met the strictest standards of excellence and can advance their organizations in the areas of decision insight, financial planning and analysis, and more.

So where’s the provocation? Four years ago, the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) and U.K.-based CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) introduced a direct competitor to the CMA program, the CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant). More recently, the AICPA announced a non-CPA track to the CGMA in the United States and its intention to merge with CIMA.

After more than a century of focusing on public or financial accounting, AICPA’s acknowledgment of management accounting as a value-adding science is a strong endorsement of IMA’s mission for nearly a century and helps grow the demand for management accounting. In many ways, IMA and AICPA are partners at the professional level by collaborating on the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC).

I believe that competition in any environment incentivizes stronger, leaner, agile, and more innovative organizations. IMA intends to continue being one of the fastest-growing accounting associations in the world with an unwavering and relentless focus on growing the CMA program, enhancing the member value proposition, engaging students and young professionals, and embracing technology to enable more capable organizations. In short, we commit to being FIERCE competitors—Focused on mission, Innovative (for example, see our e-book on Innovation at, Entrepreneurial, Respectful, Courageous, and Empathetic.

What are your thoughts?

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