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I don't know much, but I know this: Modern accounting goes way beyond the numbers.

Business today is global. The really good CPAs add context to the numbers, scan the horizon for weak signals of disruptive change, and help their organizations navigate an ever-changing world.

In short, CPAs and management accountants today are more than number-crunchers. They're strategic business partners.

Now, they have a designation that reflects that role.

The AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants have launched their new Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation, a title that emphasizes the strategic role management accountants play in their organizations.

The designation moves the spotlight away from the investment world's obsession with short-term financial results and places it squarely on long-term strategy. The CGMAs themselves will lead that conversation by helping companies “experience maximum integration between financial and non-financial information” and “make better informed decisions,” AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon said.

The designation also dovetails nicely with a couple of other important trends:

  • CGMAs are emphasizing the human nature of modern business. An AICPA / CIMA report titled “Rebooting Business: Valuing the Human Dimension” says that “relationships with customers, employees, partners and communities … will be key to getting things moving again and sustaining success over the long run.” Now where have I heard that before? It's a people-first world, and the CGMA is built to thrive in it.
  • CGMAs also focus relentlessly on transparency. Said CIMA Chief Executive Charles Tilley: “Global business leaders have to embrace and harness transparency if they're going to succeed in these changing times.” I'm guessing XBRL, with its promise of data transparency and efficiency, will play a role in the CGMA world going forward.

But don't ask me. Ask a few of the world's first CGMAs:

MACPA Executive Director Tom Hood: “The CGMA puts an exclamation mark on the CPA license for those of us in business and industry. It recognizes the broad set of skills required by a management accountant in today's rapidly changing and increasingly complex world.”

Joselin Martin, an MACPA board member and financial manager with Hayles and Howe, Inc.: “The CGMA credential tells users -– both internal and external — that I have the skill and experience to translate business data into strategic insights that are future-based, accessible and understandable. It is the perfect complement to my CPA to position myself as the trusted source of strategic financial information in my company.”

MACPA Director of Finance Skip Falatko: “The CGMA credential will help me, as an industry CPA, deal with an increasingly complex world by broadening my skills in strategy, leadership, and communication. In short, it will help me connect the dots — not all of which are financial — inside and outside my organization.”

The AICPA and CIMA are offering a ton of resources to examine the new designation in detail. They include the following:

New skills for a new designation: BLI's got 'em
In launching the CGMA designation, officials emphasized the new “success skills” that are critical for sustainable success. They including things like leadership, change management, strategy and ethics, and they're at the center of the MACPA's Business Learning Institute.

“These skills are based on the research from the CPA Vision 2011 Project and were recently refreshed and renewed through the CPA Horizons 2025 Project,” said Hood. “We at the Maryland Association of CPAs are ready to help our CPA.CGMA members succeed in the new economy.”

Learn more about what BLI has to offer here.

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