The Institute of Management Accountants, abbreviated as the IMA, is a volunteer member association that is focused on meeting the needs of management accounting professionals. The IMA was founded in 1919 and states that its mission is to “provide a forum for research, practice development, education, knowledge sharing, and the advocacy of the highest ethical and best business practices in management accounting and finance.” So, what does all that mean?
In short, the IMA sets the ethical and professional standards for CMAs and maintains an investigative and discipline system to enforce these ethics requirements. If you want to become a CMA, you need to follow their initial requirements for entry. You will also need to maintain their standards and educational requirements to keep your CMA over time.
Networking is crucial for people in the accounting field. Many new graduates find the only way to get their first accounting job is through networking. The IMA loves to connect its members and supply information about potential job leads. So, the IMA has its own social network called LinkUp IMA, which allows discussion on accounting topics, offers study opportunities for members who are prepping for exams, and facilitates the work of regional chapters and councils.
There are also a lot of local and regional subgroups that you can join if you want to narrow further the pool of people you are networking with. These groups bring accounting professionals together to discuss industry news and events, professional concerns, and share knowledge.
Finally, the IMA also hosts several conferences each year to help foster community within its members. All of these different avenues of communication are essential to proper networking within your industry. And all of these networking opportunities become tools you can use as an IMA member.
The Institute of Management Accountants works to fostering knowledge development in the industry. And improving understanding of industry trends, accounting principles, and more is why the IMA provides resources for continuing education. CMAs are required to earn a minimum number of continuing education hours each year.
The IMA publishes several magazines and professional journals on key topics to its members. They also have webinars you can follow to learn more about the latest developments in accounting practice and theory.
You will also find that the IMA puts out many resources for researchers and educators. These also help people who are not directly related to the world of accounting to understand the best practices and find their way within it. All of this information is of great value to people who invest in a membership with the IMA.
Also, knowledge development is possible and recommended using established and third-party providers, like Becker CPE.
Of course, what the IMA is probably best known for is their CMA certification. Because the CMA is one of the biggest and most well-known accounting certifications, many people only come to be familiar with the IMA through learning more about the CMA exam. The IMA targets the CMA exam and certification to people working in industry and corporate roles.
The IMA’s ideal targeted candidate is how the CMA differs from the CPA, which is geared more toward public accountants.
The CMA certification is awarded to a candidate only after they have passed the grueling 2-part exam. Each exam part is 4 hours long, and only about half of those who take it will pass it on the first try.
It’s all worth it in the end, however, because the CMA certification means you get paid more. It also means you have more choices (and prime choices) in jobs within the accounting field. You will always be a tier above someone who does not have their CMA so it could make the difference in getting a job position or a promotion.
The Statement of Membership Obligations, or SMO, form the basis of the IMA compliance program. The SMO is the framework for credible and high-quality professional organizations and compliance is essential. What would be the point of the Institute of Management Accountants if no one was enforcing compliance with their standards?
To have compliance, you need to be very clear about what you’re asking of someone. That is where the SMO comes in.
In the United States, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants are responsible for quality assurance (QA) and reviews. The IMA is an organization that will represent management accountants who do not do any auditing and are thereby not subjected to QA reviews.
The IMA works closely with other agencies to ensure management accountants and audit professionals have a close, healthy relationship within the industry.
Additionally, the IMA is also responsible for the initial (IPD) and continuing professional development (CPD) of its members. To get your CMA, you need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, complete practical experience requirements in management accounting or financial management, and you need to pass the CMA exam.
In 2017, IMA released the Management Accounting Competency Framework to define professional competencies in the accounting profession and this is the standard that is used for international education as well.
The IMA does not play a role in setting auditing standards because there are already agencies that do this. Instead, the IMA works closely with the auditing standard agencies to maintain quality standards that they set forth. Also, the IMA is committed to enhancing its members’ knowledge in the areas of auditing standards so they have websites and conferences to help.
The IMA also participates in international standard-setting processes by giving comments to the exposure drafts of the auditing boards. This is just another way that everyone works together to ensure the best outcome for all involved.
The IMA is responsible for setting ethical requirements for its members. It strives to ensure this code is no less stringent than the IESBA Code of Ethics. The goal of these standards is to maintain quality and ethics within the industry. To support its members, the IMA has a Standing Advisory Committee to evaluate IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice.
The IMA also has an ethics helpline in case you run into any questions or situations that you need guidance with. This can help with any clarifications on applying the IMA Code in on-the-job ethical situations. There is never any excuse not to know better because all the resources are available to every IMA member.
The IMA reports in its SMO Action Plan that maintains relations with the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board and provides input on technical matters affecting IMA members. However, it does not directly participate in the implementation of IPSAS. IMA’s focus remains on management accountants.
IMA has established Board Policy C-400 “Ethics Compliance Procedures.” This policy is responsible for developing an inquiry when needed and enforcing disciplinary action, also when needed.
In the United States, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is the entity responsible for the adoption of accounting standards. They have been working together with the IASB since 2002 to help achieve convergence of IFRS. The IMA has no responsibility for the adoption of IFRS but is still active in this area. Some areas in which this happens are:
(i) monitoring the convergence project of the FASB and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) standards;
(ii) communicating developments and updates to its members on the standards and developments; and
(iii) providing continuing professional education and webinars on the standards.
If you want to earn your CMA, it will significantly benefit your accounting career. However, it does require you to get and maintain your IMA membership. This is to ensure quality control within the field and that every CMA holder meets the strict standards set forth by the IMA.
To get the CMA, you need to meet the educational requirements, and you also need to pass Part 1 and Part 2 of the CMA exam. You also need to pay your IMA membership fees and meet the experience requirements.
I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.