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.

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THE CMA’S INTEGRITY…

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.

 

…INCREASES YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

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.

 

…IMPROVES YOUR CAREER

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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

Unleash Your Learning Potential

One of the key skills that will help you succeed in your career already lies within you: understanding the way you learn. Focusing on what topics are relevant to your needs, and knowing when and how you digest information, can help you unleash your learning potential as you advance along your career path.

For me, it’s a rewarding process to help others learn and grow, and I’ve been lucky enough throughout my career to have been involved in training and development in one way or another. Now, as IMAs vice president of education and career services, my team and I are tasked with providing a variety of continuing education learning opportunities for financial professionals in business. These programs and services need to be delivered in a variety of formats in order to help professionals maximize learning. But, it’s also important for individuals to understand their learning preferences.

Here are a few things to ask yourself when deciding if an educational opportunity is right for you:

Topic Relevance

Will the topic help you grow your knowledge, skills, and abilities to be more effective on the job and progress in your career? Is it mandatory to continue holding a certification?

As a busy professional, it’s important to continue your professional education, but it’s also important to choose a topic that is relevant to your personal and professional goals.

Format Preference
Learning_Potential_1How does the training opportunity fit in with the rest of your commitments? Do you have the time needed to attend live workshops, conferences, or events? Is your preference to leverage self-study online courses accessible at convenient times from the comfort of your home or business? Or, does a webinar given at a prescribed time in which a speaker presents on a topic in real time interest you instead?

Determining the right environment and format can help prepare you for an ideal learning experience.

Learning Style

Lastly, but also very importantly, what type of learner are you? There are generally three types of learners: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

  • Visual learners absorb information better when viewing pictures, diagrams, or other visual representations of concepts. Such learners may want to participate in courses that are more visuals based and less text based.
  • Auditory learners learn best by listening to Relaxe woman at homedirections and information and verbally sharing information with others. Courses including lectures and engagement through team exercises may benefit these learners the most.
  • In contrast to visual and auditory learners, kinesthetic learners prefer to be actively involved and enjoy hands-on learning. Educational courses that include practice tests, knowledge checks, and case studies are important to such learners.

It’s helpful to understand your preferred learning style so that educational opportunities can enrich your learning experience.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Growing your professional knowledge, skills, and abilities is critical to progressing in your current position and, more importantly, in your future career. Understanding your professional developmental needs, course preferences, and learning style will help with your growth.

With more than 300 online self-study courses available 24/7, webinars on management accounting and leadership topics three to five times per month, and in-person conferences and events typically including lectures and networking opportunities, IMA is dedicated to offering a variety of learning approaches. Check out IMA’s Learning Center for more information. You can also view our new learning assessment tool, CareerDriver, to match your skills to 40 management accounting roles and build a development plan as a guide to the next step in your career.

Written by Debbie Warner, CPLP

Related Articles
The Creative Brain – Ned Herrmann

Personal Branding: Be an Advocate for Yourself

While your everyday job may offer various opportunities to be an advocate for your industry, company, or products and services, how often do you advocate for yourself and work on improving your personal brand? A personal brand is how you portray yourself both online and in person. As with a company brand, your personal brand should be consistent across all channels and should represent who you are.

iStock_000014300896_Small1. Decide what you stand for.
First, determine who you are, what your values are, and how you want to represent yourself. Choose three to five values that guide your moral compass, and design a strategy from there. Personally, I would use “trustworthy,” “committed,” and “respectful” to describe myself.

In my role as staff liaison to IMA’s technical advisory committees, these three values are essential. I conduct myself in a way that committee members have faith in how I communicate and respect their position on technical issues that impact the management accounting profession.

2. Share relevant content often.
Always be careful of what you post on a public social media profile. Delete inappropriate pictures or content on your profile that might discredit you, or make your profile private. Instead, post blogs or articles you wrote or share relevant research in your field. This will show your enthusiasm for knowledge sharing and career development. Creating a posting plan will help you stay organized and ensure you maintain a healthy stream of content.

It’s also important to share content with your coworkers who may have similar interests. This knowledge sharing at work can boost your reputation and can prove your integrity as an expert in your field. In turn, your coworkers might advocate for you as well.

3. Network and get involved with groups that interest you.
Connect with companies and causes you’re interested in to show what you’re passionate about outside of work. Not only will this boost your brand, but connecting with these companies online will give you real-time news updates and research in your news feed. You’ll also stay informed with industry networking events and meetings.

For example, I follow IMA® and Fairleigh Dickinson University, my alma mater, on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to stay connected with my company and what’s going on with other alumni at the University. I use the discussion forums as networking opportunities and as a way to search for in-person events the alumni association holds.

Your Personal Brand at Work
Becoming a self-advocate means you stick to your values. Since mobile apps are so readily available, your digital persona is at your fingertips 24/7. It’s very easy to share information these days. You can use it to your advantage, but don’t lose sight of your values and what you stand for. Being a professional online is just as important as acting professionally in person. As we become more and more tech savvy, don’t forget about the value of in-person connections. These interactions can leave impressions stronger than any digital footprint.

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

Related Articles:
The Value Of Personal Branding For Small Business – Forbes
5 Steps to Fix Your Personal Brand When Insults Stick – Entrepreneur

3 Things To Never Procrastinate On

Career development is a lifelong commitment of professional and personal growth. We know that staying current and improving our skills in the competitive environment is important for having a long and fulfilling career, yet many of us still procrastinate on this important area. Take some time to reflect on your career and consider three career development areas:

1. Getting Certified
As someone who earned his CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification while working full time, I advise anyone interested in pursuing a certification to start now. The sooner you earn a professional certification the better. Studying for exams while working full-time is a challenge, but with disciplined time management, it can be done. The upside potential is certainly worth it. Having a prestigious certification signals to employers your competency and expertise in your field, so why wait? Procrastinating on something as important as earning a credential can be detrimental to your career.

Students can start their certification jourstudent teacherney while still in school, too. Strategic Finance published an article in August that explains how students can complete the CMA and CPA exams within six months of graduating college.

2. Continuing Education
No matter what field you work in, you need continuing education to stay current on the job. If you hold a certification, like the CMA, you’re required to earn continuing professional education (CPE) credit each year, and you should always be thinking of ways to earn those credits. For example, make a schedule of courses or events you plan to attend throughout the year. This breakdown can show you how many credits you should earn, say, per month in order to reach your goal. IMA members have access to an online transcript that can help them keep track of their CPE. I encourage everyone to use this.

There are many ways you can earn CPE credit. IMA offers a wide variety of courses and webinars in our online store that are worth NASBA-approved CPE. For example, the IMA Ethics Series: Blinded by Pressure is our latest interactive course, which also fulfills the annual ethics CPE requirement for CMAs.

3. Planning For the Future
No matter where you are in your career, planning is essential for a bright future. Young professionals can outline a development plan for their skills and careers – where they want to be in five, 10, and 15 years. Mid-career professionals can develop a plan to get to the next level, whether it is to earn a certification or higher-education degree. And individuals looking to retire have an important job to do for succession planning.

To aid in this journey, IMA just launched a new career development tool called PrintCareerDriver. The simple three-step process allows you to evaluate your skills, build an actionable development plan based on your “Areas for Development,” and explore new career paths. This is a valuable tool for anyone looking to take control of their career and take the guesswork out of career planning.

“A Goal Without a Plan Is Just a Wish”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a French writer during the early 20th Century, had the right idea. You can’t be successful in your career if you don’t plan for success. Planning CPE courses or exam study time throughout the year can help you set (and achieve) small goals. Waiting until the last minute to earn CPE credit or enroll in the CMA program can be stressful. So don’t wait until the last minute to start your career journey and get to where you want to be.

Written by Dennis Whitney, CMA, CFM, CAE
Follow me on twitter: @IMA_DWhitney

Related Articles
“5 Great Alternatives to Getting Your MBA” – Skilledup.com
IMA Online Store, Course Catalog – IMA

Get the Most Out of Your Conference Experience

In the past I’ve talked about how continuing your education by earning certifications and participating in mentoring programs can be beneficial to your career. Another important form of continuing education is attending a professional conference. Conferences should be a fun, engaging experience where you learn new skills and make professional contacts. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your next professional conference.

Personal Development Plan
Before you go to the conference, spend some time reviewing the program and choosing the sessions you want to attend. Think about this in the context of your career goals. Write down what you want to achieve in the next few years (e.g., job change, promotion, etc.). Then do a self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, and choose sessions that will help you address the needs you have identified.

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I’m a huge advocate of lifelong continuing education, and conferences are great learning forums. Conference sessions offer a variety of educational opportunities and, depending on your area of interest, can include discussions of top industry trends, how-to sessions, and motivational presentations. Not only can you learn from leading experts in the field, but you can also get inspired by hearing motivational life stories.

Attending the session is only the first step. What is perhaps even more important is applying what you learned on the job. That is how you reinforce what you’ve learned, improving your skills and helping you be more effective in your job.

Networking
There are so many opportunities for networking at conferences. It can be intimidating at first to start a conversation with someone you don’t know, but when you do, you’ll be proud of yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone. You might also make a valuable contact who will help you a great deal in your career, solve a current business problem, or offer career advice.

10458451_10152330358455829_6042484930867715104_nNetworking is also about helping others. Your knowledge and experience is valuable, and sharing it with someone else could help them in their job and perhaps help them advance their career. And you might also make a lifelong friend! Many of the attendees of conferences I attend, including IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo, became friends when they met at the conference. Conferences almost always build in time for social activities that keep it fun.

Many conferences now have mobile apps that allow you to not only plan your session attendance on your mobile device but also connect with other attendees both before and after the event.

Something for Everyone
Conferences are offered in nearly every area of interest. I attend IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo nearly every year and find it to be a great way to stay current in the field of management accounting. Every couple of years, I also attend conferences for testing professionals and association management, since I have to stay current in those fields as well. Attending conferences helps me stay connected with the latest industry trends and techniques and to other professionals in the field.

If you haven’t been to a conference yet, I encourage you do so as soon as you can. When you ask your boss for approval, be prepared. Show him or her which sessions you plan to attend and what skills and resources you intend to bring back to your job. IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo is coming up in June, and we can’t wait!

Written by Dennis Whitney, CMA, CFM, CAE
Follow me on twitter: @IMA_DWhitney

Related Articles:
“6 Secrets to Better Networking at Conferences” – Dave Kerpen, LinkedIn
“4 Reasons Your Employees Should Attend Conferences” – Janine Popick, Inc. Magazine

What’s Old Is New Again: The Value of In-Person Networking

Back in the day, meetings and networking could only take place face-to-face. You would think that today’s technologically advanced world would have made this practice extinct, but many people stillnetworking1 believe in the power of in-person networking to create a more emphatic, memorable experience.

As one of IMA’s conference and event managers currently working on IMA’s 95th Annual Conference & Exposition, I know the value of in-person networking and see it firsthand.

The Meetings Mean Business Coalition was created by the U.S. Travel Association to showcase the incredible value that business meetings, travel, and events bring to the U.S. The following are the pillars of the Coalition and are great to keep in mind when attending a conference or event.

Creating Personal Connections and Building Strong Communities

networking2One of the most valuable features of a conference is the opportunity to network. If you aren’t networking at a conference, then you’re really missing out on potential opportunities.

Networking isn’t easy for everyone, but within a conference community, there’s nothing to fear. At an event, there’s a sense of community, shared commonality, and reasoning. You can share dilemmas and solutions you’ve experienced at work and learn from others. Conversations can lead to a new job, a new idea, or a new partnership.

For example, I’ve met meeting planners from the West Coast and can reach out to them to find the best hotels in the region. I would easily trust them over other referrals because, after meeting them, I know that we understand each other’s job responsibilities and needs.

If the conference offers a “first-time attendee” orientation, I highly recommend participating. Take that last empty seat at a lunch table. Exchange ideas, connect with people, and collaborate. Swap business cards with everyone you meet and follow up on LinkedIn so when the time comes to re-connect, you’ll know how to find them or vice versa.

Driving Positive Business Outcomes

People tend to forget that conferences also are conducive to conducting business. When I attend an association or meeting management conference, I make appointments with hotel sales managers and the local convention and visitor bureaus.

In November 2013, the Crown Plaza released its first-ever Business Meetings in a Modern World global research report. Of the 2,000 business people surveyed around the world, 47% of them believed they had lost a contract or client simply because they didn’t have enough face-to-face meetings, and 81% stated that face-to-face meetings are better for building long-term trust and ensuring strong client relationships.

Most people will say the reason they registered for a particular conference is to continue their education and to maintain their certification. They rush from session to session, and they disappear at the end of the day. If you’re already at the conference, take the time to engage and observe – ask a question to the speaker, find out more about an organization, or stop by an exhibitor booth.

Conference learning includes personal development, career development, networking, and broadening horizons. You’re surrounded by opportunities to grow. You enable yourself to become an expert.

When you attend any conference, take full advantage of your investment in your most valuable asset: yourself.

Written by Tina Gaerlan, CMP