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The Newest Career in Accounting, the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

Recently the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland joined forces to sponsor and promote a new professional designation called the Chartered Global Management Accountant, or CGMA for short.

Over the years certified public accountants have worn three hats: as independent auditors, as tax experts, and as management accountants. The first two hats rest on the heads of CPAs very well. Most people you meet probably know the auditing and tax roles of CPAs. But the third hat doesn’t fit so well on the head of a CPA who has joined the management team of a business.

As an auditor and tax professional a CPA needs independence, to be in a position to stand back and judge impartially whether the accounting methods used by a business conform to established accounting standards and tax laws. However, once a CPA becomes a member of management, he or she no longer is independent from the business.

Taking a job with a business does not strip the CPA designation from a person. As the Controller of a business, for example, you can still refer to yourself as a CPA. (But you are not independent of the business.)

Over the years various organizations have developed credentials that management accountants can earn by additional education or experience (or some of both). The two primary purposes of these credentialing programs are to improve the abilities of professional management accountants, and, second, to create an acronym or “brand” that is widely known.

A member in good standing of the AICPA can gain the CGMA designation by meeting experience requirements in the fields of internal auditing, management accounting (both in profit and non-profit entities), and business consulting.

Starting in 2015, a qualifying examination will be required. The CGMA initiative has just gotten off the ground at the time of revising this book. It’s too early to tell how successful it will be.

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