The gold standard

As he moves through his two-year term as chair of CIMA’s Professional Standards Committee (PSC), Bob Beedham talks about ethics and professionalism.
The gold standard

Q. How do you see the PSC’s role in helping members?

A. Having been a member of the PSC for three years prior to becoming chairman, it is clear the profession has credibility with employers and the general public because the membership complies to a high standard of working practices and ethics. This creates a high level of trust. Without the trust of our stakeholders, our members cannot be considered valuable employees or advisers.

I believe it is the role of the Institute to provide its members with the right and appropriate standards and also the tools to fulfil their roles. The standards of professionalism set by the committee are core to the Institute’s role, as is the guidance provided to support members in their adherence to those standards. I want to see members embracing the standards as a positive differentiator between them and the unqualified and unregulated individuals out there who call themselves accountants.

Q. What do you want to achieve in your two-year term?

A. The Institute has a vital role in ensuring we uphold the highest possible levels of professionalism and ethics. Our members know what is the right thing to do, and how to face up to difficult choices and decisions. It is important that the Institute supports the membership in as many ways as possible, so we can all achieve that high level of competency and honesty. The PSC can help our members uphold these standards. Committee members have a wealth of knowledge and experience across a variety of businesses. This, combined with talented and focused CIMA staff, provides a great opportunity to oversee the regulatory framework within which our members operate.

The purpose of regulation is to serve the public interest, and it includes helping our members to be the best professionals they can be. It can sometimes be difficult to achieve the right balance between robust regulation and proportionate enforcement.

This is why we sample our members’ CPD [continuing professional development] records – we trust all members to keep their CPD up to date, but by having a monitoring process, we stand up to public scrutiny. Effective regulation should be as easy as possible to understand and comply with, which is why the professional standards department always looks to provide explanation and guidance. 

Q. If you could give advice to a newly qualified management accountant, what would it be?

A. I benefited early on in my career from the advice of Jack Burton, who put me on the accountancy path. For newly qualified management accountants today, I would say put yourself in the position of the person receiving the information. What would be the first question you would ask, and what kind of reaction are you trying to achieve? Sometimes you need to step back from the detail and look at the big picture before you present the information. We can all make that extra effort to do our chosen job that much better.

Q. How do you see the future of ethics and professionalism developing for CGMA designation-holders?

A. Every professional member needs to be respected and trusted if they are going to contribute to the success of businesses. CIMA members help businesses to succeed and in so doing must uphold the highest professional standards. This is the foundation upon which everything else is built. Secondly, our members must grow and improve once they have obtained their qualification. So continuing professional development and remaining relevant is vital if we want to be the leading profession that provides financial and business advice. I am delighted that the continuing relationship with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) through our Association is providing access to an even larger suite of lifelong learning resources for our members, and that together we will continue to support them throughout their careers, equipping them to respond effectively to the challenges that they will undoubtedly face as the pace of change in business continues to accelerate.


Standard-setter

CIMA’s Professional Standards Committee oversees the regulation of CIMA members and registered students. This includes adherence to the requirements of external regulators. The committee approves changes to the Royal charter, byelaws, and regulations and is responsible for the Code of Ethics, and develops and oversees several monitoring regimes to ensure that members comply with these requirements. It also provides guidance for members on compliance, and ensures that CIMA’s professional standards and conduct processes remain up to date and command the confidence of stakeholders and the public.