Ethics Training: It Starts Earlier than You Think

Ethics is a serious topic for professionals working in business. Stories of financial professionals failing to act in an ethical manner – and the consequences – are unfortunately commonplace. It’s important for management accountants around the world to be able to understand and identify unethical behavior. This importance is reflected in the requirement for professionals holding the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) credential to earn two hours of CPE credit in ethics each year.

While we often refer to ethical issues on the job, ethics training for professionals starts earlier than you think – even before college.

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Growing up, you acquire ethical values through many avenues, including your culture, religion, family, and more. These values stay with you throughout your life. While many people would agree that ethics isn’t something that you can be taught in school, you can learn how to recognize unethical situations in kindergarten through college.

In college (and with continuing education courses), you can learn about applying your ethical beliefs in the real world, the red flags that alert you to fraud and other unethical situations, and the procedures to report these situations. Most higher education institutions require their accounting majors to take an ethics course before graduating or incorporate an ethics component in other courses. This is a great way for students to learn how to address real-world ethical situations and understand what can happen when faced with financial pressures and your business’s reputation is on the line.

If you were ever to get caught cheating in school, consequences can range up to getting expelled. But if you get caught “cheating” in the real world, the consequences can be much more serious, including losing your job, damaging your reputation, and facing criminal charges.

Business
After you graduate and get your first job, you’ll need to continue to develop your ability to identify unethical situations and learn how to avoid them. One way to do this is by asking for a mentor at your company, who could explain how a seasoned professional would handle such situations. How would he or she recognize the red flag? How would he or she report it? Each company has different procedures, which should be followed first. The IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice can also be a guide in resolving ethical conflicts.

HiRes - stepsApplying what you’ve learned in the classroom to the business world can be intimidating. But if you know the signs of unethical behavior and the resources available to you, you will be able to successfully uphold your values in the workplace and keep your company on the ethical path to success.

As a leader in upholding the highest ethical standards in business, IMA offers many resources to help guide accountants and financial professionals:

In a time when the news is flooded with stories about big corporations committing fraud, it’s more important than ever to understand your values and responsibility as an accountant to hold yourself to the highest ethical standards.

Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson

Related Articles:
Overcoming the Fraud TriangleStrategic Finance
The Importance of Internal ControlsForbes
Nine Steps to Make Your Company’s Ethics Training Program Stick – AccountingWeb

Advocate Spotlight: Gerhard Mueller and Zhang Xinmin

Advocacy is very important to the success of IMA and the global expansion of the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) credential and the management accounting profession. As part of our advocacy program, every year we award individual advocates (members and nonmembers) for enforcing IMA’s mission and values around the world.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge a few outstanding people who helped make IMA the organization it is today. They make the moments matter for students, academics, and professionals around the world. This year’s winners of our Distinguished Advocate Awards are Gerhard Mueller and Zhang Xinmin.

gerhard mueller

Gerhard Mueller, CPA, Ph.D.
Gerhard (Gary) Mueller is a retired accounting professor at University of Washington, Seattle. He is known as the Father of International Accounting Education because of his early advocacy of international accounting recognition and education. Gary is also a former member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).

Although Gary isn’t an IMA member, he has advocated on behalf of IMA for many years. It began with the publication of his book A New Introduction to Accounting in 1971, his involvement in the Accounting Education Change Commission in 1989, and culminated in his support of IMA’s Consortium for Accounting Education Improvement, which produced the 1995 and 1999 Practice Analysis of Management Accounting.

zhang xinminZhang Xinmin
Zhang is the vice president of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing, China, and is a board member of the Accounting Society of China (ASC). He is well-known for having founded financial reporting quality analysis theory.

Zhang has helped IMA sign a strategic alliance contract with UIBE and has helped establish IMA’s Chinese Education Steering Committee, which promotes the management accounting education system established by IMA’s Higher Endorsement Program. With Zhang’s advocacy, interest in IMA and the CMA program has grown, and continues to grow, in China.

Advocating for the Future
On behalf of IMA members, IMA’s advocacy committees engage and suggest solutions to standard setters and regulatory agencies, such as the FASB, Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), and others.

In addition, our Campus Advocate Program allows academic leaders to be ambassadors for IMA. Campus Advocates are the key link between IMA and their college/university. They help shape the future of their students and the management accounting profession.

For me advocacy means supporting a cause or proposal in a way that results in a positive influence toward the cause. In the world of management accounting, advocacy efforts make a positive impact if they result in relieving management accountants from less complex accounting standards and financial disclosures. What does advocacy mean to you?

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE

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IMA Announces Winners of 2015 Annual Global Awards and Lifetime Achievement Award – IMA

Volunteers Create the True Moments that Matter

Welcome to National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 12 to 18 this year. It’s a time to give thanks and show appreciation for those who selflessly volunteer for a cause close to their heart. As with many nonprofits, here at IMA the service, spirit, and inspiration of our volunteers is something we appreciate and cherish throughout the year around the world. Volunteering has mutual benefits, surely for the organization and for the individuals in building their personal brand, becoming an expert in their field, and building their résumé.

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A personal brand is the identity you project through your values, career, and beliefs. Everyone has a personal brand, but it’s up to you how to manage it. Volunteering for a cause close to your heart is one way to build a personal brand. You can do this through volunteering with an organization, alumni association, or community project. Once you’ve decided on a cause to volunteer for, make it a point to volunteer often and regularly to truly build a name for yourself within that community.

Become an Expert
Being published in magazines or other media sources will help prove that you’re an expert in your field. IMA has various publications that will help you share your expertise, including Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly, IMA Educational Case Journal, research endorsed by IMA’s Research Foundation, and more. In turn, your contributions can help give guidance to other professionals to perform their jobs more effectively, advance their careers, and grow personally and professionally. When you write about what you know and love, writing comes naturally. And the more you write about those topics, the more credibility you will build with your audience and the media sources.

Build Your Résumé
Volunteers’ time, effort, and passion help drive the mission of the organization. At IMA, individuals are dedicated at all levels – from the local chapter level to the global board level. And volunteering is a continuous learning opportunity – start as a student volunteering on your college campus and continue as long as you are inspired and seek to inspire others. These opportunities are perfect for building your résumé by gaining leadership experience and other soft skills. There are endless opportunities for you to follow your passion while adding value to your community.

Z-fyDSGm6XivP5biogrTsURnMRPhzTAA4YJzaKcIb_sVolunteers At IMA
IMA genuinely appreciates the volunteers who not only built this association nearly a century ago but in many ways created a new profession. Our volunteers enable IMA to sustain its growth in the face of competition, consolidation, and commoditization. IMA’s volunteers at the global, national, and local community levels are truly a competitive asset that we cherish and that no other association can claim (for example, IMA has nearly 350 chapters, including 130 student chapters globally). In terms of ensuring mutual benefit – the “value in volunteerism” – there are many ways for you to be involved as an engaged, relevant, and inspired volunteer.

The current Chair of IMA’s Global Board of Directors, Joe Vincent, is the perfect example of lifelong volunteerism. He started volunteering before he graduated college for his local IMA chapter. He now has 40 years of leadership experience gathered at the local, regional, and global levels and continues to dedicate his time to the profession he’s passionate about. Read more about Joe’s most rewarding experiences of volunteering on LinkedIn.

Personally, I’m growing every day as a leader and business professional. Becoming CEO of an organization isn’t the end of the learning and growth journey. In many ways it’s the start of a new journey to inspire, to make a difference, and to touch a heart. My growth since becoming IMA’s CEO in 2008 is in no small part because of the countless volunteers I’ve worked with. Our volunteers truly have created moments that matter in how they donate time to their association, profession, and communities. I can tell endless stories of how volunteers took time off from their “day jobs” to escort me around when I make visits to the region and took the time to establish new connections and new relationships that truly make a difference.

I encourage you to support your community or a cause close to your heart because volunteers provide increasing value to the community or organization, but also you can take advantage of the benefits of it. And we at IMA extend our appreciation to our volunteers every hour, every day, and every week around the globe.

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

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Earning by Learning

Sometimes in life it seems that taking the easy way out is the best choice, but in fact this is often the worst possible choice. Earning a certification should never be a time to consider a shortcut.

scattered_booksAs senior vice president of ICMA® (Institute of Certified Management Accountants), the certification division of IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants), I see firsthand the value and importance of studying for and passing a rigorous testing program.
I see two major benefits of testing:

Confirm your competency and skill set.

If you want to be a driver, you take a road test. In college, you take exams to pass a course. So why would it be any different for earning a certification?

Assessing one’s knowledge of management accounting through testing advances careers of individuals, increases the effectiveness of finance teams in organizations, and enriches economies as a whole.

Certifications are often a key differentiator in the hiring and promotion process as companies value the objective validation of competence. Finance team hiring managers want to have confidence that the person they’re hiring has mastered a rigorous curriculum that’s verified objectively. Earning a certification demonstrates that you have the skills needed to help your company succeed because certification, in addition to continuing Perseveranceeducation and experience, helps you stay relevant and sharpens your skill set.

Without proper testing there’s no integrity and no validity to a certification.

I like what Susan Weiss, Ph.D., CMA, adjunct accounting instructor at Bryant University, said in the March 2012 ION: “Perseverance is the key because anything worth having is worth working hard for. It may seem like a lot of planning and time management is required to pursue a certification like the CMA, but the end results are clearly worth it.”

No matter how much you think you know, you learn so much more.

From 2010 to 2020, there’s a projected 13% growth in employment among accountants, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A recent Manpower study also found that “Accounting & Finance Staff” is one of the Top 10 Hardest Jobs to Fill.

Changes in accounting regulations, advancements in technology, increasing globalization, and an ever-evolving profession result in changes in the work of the management accountant. With these changes in the job comes the need for new knowledge, skills, and abilities, and the lack of these skills has created a gap between what management accountants know and what’s needed on the job. Studying for and passing a certification like the CMA can help close that gap.

I’ve been with IMA for 20 years and I recently earned the CAE (Certified Association Executive) by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). After meeting the experience and education requirements, I had to study for and pass an exam. I thought I knew a lot about association management, but I learned a whole lot more. Not only did I learn more, but I also feel the intangible benefits of increased confidence and effectiveness in my job. I earned a sense of achievement and was rewarded with a credential knowing that I was current with the demands of my profession.

Don’t take the easy way out. Study and work hard for your credential and be proud of the letters next to your name. You earned them.

Written by Dennis Whitney, CMA, CFM, CAE

Follow me on twitter: @IMA_DWhitney

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