The Importance of Integrity in a Certification Program

At IMA, we’re dedicated to quality and providing the most prestigious management accounting certification in the world: the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant). For more than 40 years, we have been building a professional certification program that is a true reflection of the management accounting profession. And over the years, the standard for earning the CMA has remained high.

I attribute this continuous high standard and respected reputation to the integrity of the CMA exam. An exam has integrity if it’s both valid and reliable, which in turn leads to consistent outcomes. When professionals pass an exam—and earn a certification—that has integrity, they have more confidence in their day-to-day work, and employers identify them as experts in the field.




To earn the CMA, professionals need to pass the challenging two-part exam, fulfill an educational requirement, and meet an experience requirement. In addition, CMAs commit to the ethical standards in the IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice and an annual continuing education requirement.

To ensure the CMA validates competence in the in-demand skills needed by management accountants, we regularly update the questions and the content specification outline to reflect the most current knowledge and skill requirements.

These high standards advance the management accounting profession and the careers of those working in the field. A certification with high standards of integrity and trust is a signal to employers that you’ve taken and passed a rigorous exam and sets you apart from your peers.



comp_advantThroughout the years, we’ve ensured an unwavering attention to integrity by using robust processes to ensure the questions on the CMA exam are psychometrically reliable, ensuring strong internal controls at testing centers, and committing to continuous improvement.

In addition, we haven’t grandfathered anyone into the CMA program, meaning that every professional holding the CMA has taken an exam, and no one has earned our designation by simply writing a check.

Adding those three letters to the end of your name shows employers that you have taken a rigorous, relevant, and trusted exam and have the skills necessary to drive business performance. Employers see you as a trusted business partner.



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Investing in your career really pays off. Not only do CMAs earn an average of 61% more in total annual compensation than their noncertified peers, but they also enjoy faster advancement opportunities and employer recognition.

When you start searching for a credential with integrity, make sure you choose the right one for you and your career. Earning a certification with integrity gives you the confidence you need to take your career to the next level. And since the CMA is a global certification, you can take it with you wherever you go.

Nearly 50,000 of your peers in more than 100 countries have earned their CMA. We’re confident that those who have passed the exam have demonstrated competence in the management accounting and financial management skills necessary to perform at a consistently high level.

Written by Dennis Whitney, CMA


Related articles:

“The CMA: Rigorous, Relevant, and Trusted”Strategic Finance

“IMA’s 2015 Global Salary Survey” – IMA

How to Become a Stronger Leader

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”Libba Bray

One moment is all it takes to be inspired. That quote from author Libba Bray got me thinking about the people who have inspired change in me over the years and how their leadership qualities have influenced me to become a better leader every day. For me, these three leadership qualities stand out to me as most vital for success:




As financial professionals working in business, we agree to abide by the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and trust. Having integrity means you are a trustworthy, reliable, and credible leader, especially in our field. Accountants at all levels must uphold ethical practices to do their jobs the right way or else they face high penalties and damage to their reputation.

There is nothing more important than your brand and your reputation. My positions in industry, where I worked at one of the world’s most trusted companies, taught me that “the good guys” can win in the market—a company that upholds its values will succeed. The collateral damage from a competitor’s fraudulent behavior is real. How you achieve outcomes is as important as the outcomes themselves.


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Passion is contagious. If you’re passionate about what you do, chances are you’ll inspire others to be passionate, too. Being a passionate—and compassionate—leader shows your employees that you’re invested in them and in the team, always seeking to build followership, as coined by leadership guru John C. Maxwell.

Passion to me is about a genuine, unwavering, and relentless desire to be a stronger family member and businessperson regardless of the status you have achieved. When I joined IMA, coming from a wonderful business career that included being CFO of a multi-billion-dollar operation, I had zero professional certifications. When I saw the passion of IMA’s volunteers for the value of professional certifications, it inspired me to earn the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) and CAE (Certified Association Executive) credentials. Now I’m even more passionate because I better understand the industry and the work that our members do.




Commitment comes in many forms: commitment to projects, people, business relationships, and more. When you lead by example, your team can see that you are committed and are working hard to achieve success. A strong leader should also be committed to being ethical and courageous, always inspiring a culture of challenge. Keep your promises, admit your mistakes, continuously learn, and build a respectful rapport with your team.

I have faced intense competition in my industry positions and at IMA. I have learned that commitment to people, mission, and strategy is key to sustainable success. When times get tough, you really learn who you can count on and how resilient your strategy is. I am a firm believer in FIERCE competition (Focused on mission, Innovative, Entrepreneurial, Respectful, Courageous, and Empathetic).


Change, One Moment at a Time

Having integrity, passion, and commitment will build a well-rounded base for being a strong leader. Integrity allows you to uphold your ethical values and build your reputation as a trusted business professional. Exuding genuine passion and commitment for your work fosters a unified, mutually respectful business culture. You can advance the management accounting profession by becoming a stronger leader. It only takes a moment, a gesture, or a person to make a difference.

What or who inspires you to be a better leader?


Written by Jeff Thomson


Related Articles

“Leading Without a Title” Strategic Finance

“The 9 Traits That Define Great Leadership”Inc.