AICPA and CIMA Launch New Designation
By Richard J. Koreto
Posted on 2/2/12

On Jan. 31, the AICPA and the London-based Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) launched a new venture that was announced earlier: the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation.

According to a joint announcement, this designation is designed "to elevate the profession of management accounting" and recognizes "the most talented and committed management accountants with the discipline and skill to drive strong business performance." Gregory J. Anton, AICPA chairman, said in the credential’s launch presentation, although some NYSSCPA members expressed doubt about the real value of the credential for CPAs.

The joint venture is owned 60 percent by the AICPA and 40 percent by CIMA, although the board that governs the designation will be half CIMA and half AICPA. CIMA, founded in 1919, describes itself as the world’s largest and leading professional body of management accountants.

CPAs can sign up on the CGMA website, although some qualified CPAs report receiving letters that told them they already have the designation, without doing anything. U.S. CPAs who want to obtain the CGMA designation must be regular (voting) members of the AICPA and meet any one of the following conditions, according to the CGMA website:

  • Three years of financial (including internal audit) or management accounting experience in business, industry, or government, or
  • Two years of financial or management accounting experience plus one year in public accounting, or
  • Three years of financial/management accounting experience on a consulting basis, or
  • Three years in a management accounting role focused on the management and operation of an accounting firm

There is no cost to maintain the designation until July 31, after which the annual designation fee will be $150. CPAs who are also a member of a state CPA society will receive a $50 annual discount.

As long as CPAs remain with the AICPA and pay their dues, there are no other requirements for now. In 2015, CPAs will have to take an exam, but the AICPA clarified that CPAs who obtain their CGMA designation before then will be grandfathered in—they will not have to take any further assessments.

And, at least for now, there is no competency requirement beyond what AICPA members already have. NYSSPCA Vice President J. Michael Kirkland, who also works in industry, said that only time would tell if the CGMA designation would be of value. He thought its global focus might help CPAs involved in international issues, and said that he was signing up for it. However, he also had a problem with marketing it as a gold standard, saying that "being a CPA is a gold standard."

What CPAs Get

By becoming a CGMA, CPAs get the following:

  • The ability to use "CGMA" after their names
  • A certificate suitable for framing.
  • Access to CGMA.org. (This is open to all CPAs until July 2012, after which it will be open only to CGMA designation holders.)
  • CGMA Magazine
  • CGMA Newsletter
  • Networking Events
  • Tools, such as checklists, decision trees and real-world case studies
  • Reports on key issues facing businesses in the global economy
  • Global economic surveys
  • Products, including online courses, webinars, digital publications and conferences, available at special pricing for CGMA holders.

Mark Leeds, president of the NYSSCPA Westchester Chapter and a management accountant, was a little dubious: "Based on criteria I've seen so, I don't understand what this will add to management accounting or me in particular." CGMA's sponsors are billing it as a "gold standard," but Leeds wonders if only a three-year work requirement makes it a gold standard.

Michele Levine, a member of the Government Accounting & Auditing Committee, said that while many of the same skills and competencies apply to CPAs in government and in business, there are substantial environmental differences, and little was said during the launch webcast about the designation's relevance to CPAs in government. However, she did attend the launch webinar, and called the designation "potentially important."

State Society Buy-In

The AICPA is trying to market the new designation by forging agreements with state societies. If a state society agrees to promote the designation to its members by placing notices in society publications and on websites, running AICPA-provided articles, distributing flyers at major society events and displaying a CGMA poster in its offices, among other tasks, the AICPA will pay a royalty to the society.

The amounts are based on the number of state society members who sign up for the CGMA, and run on a sliding scale from $3 to $15 per member.

At its February meeting, the NYSSCPA's executive committee will consider whether the NYSSCPA should join the program.