Accounting and finance students, representing 381 schools across 43 U.S. states and 29 countries, joined us for the virtual conference this past November to exchange ideas, network with potential employers, and gain insights that will shape their careers. They learned about leadership from the president of Universal Publishing Production Music; why diversity, equity, and inclusion matter; and how digital innovation is changing the way we work.

As the spouse of a retired teacher and a former math teacher myself, I know the important role educators play in the lives of their students. Today’s accounting and finance teachers are charged with motivating and educating their students in a disruptive and uncertain world, one that requires new skills and new perspectives in order to succeed. The profession has evolved beyond value stewardship to include value creation enabled by new competencies in strategy management, technology, data analytics, enterprise risk management, sustainability reporting, and supply chain. These are critical areas assessed on our CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) exam, and they represent skills that are vitally important to the work today’s finance and accounting professionals carry out to make a difference for their organizations and society at large.

IMA has always been a leader in influencing undergraduate curricula that prepare the next generation of leaders to face the challenges of tomorrow. That’s why we issued Essential Management Accounting Competencies for All Entry-Level Accountants, which identifies the key management accounting competencies and learning outcomes needed by accountants just starting their careers. The report was prepared by the IMA Management Accounting Competency Task Force, a team with extensive experience in developing competency and implementation guidance for universities and corporations. The task force was led by Raef Lawson, chair of the IMA Research Foundation; Loreal Jiles, IMA’s VP of Research and Thought Leadership; and Roopa Venkatesh, a professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha and chair of the IMA Committee on Academic Relations.

The report was written, in part, in response to the AICPA and NASBA’s “CPA Evolution” model curriculum leading to a new uniform CPA exam in 2024. IMA’s view is that while the model curriculum might adequately prepare students for careers in public accounting, it falls short in preparing students for multiple career pathways in accounting due to a lack of depth and breadth in essential management accounting competencies. These multiple career pathways include public accounting, corporate accounting and finance, consulting, and advisory services.

An exposure draft was published for comment in October 2021. After taking into account feedback from IMA members and the profession, the task force issued the final report in December to solidify IMA’s position on this important matter and continue the dialogue on the subject. Keep an eye out for an article discussing the report in more detail in an upcoming issue of Strategic Finance. I also invite you to share your comments with me directly.

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