Building reputation, delivering value

Andrew Harding, centre, listens to member feedback at an Ask the CEO event.
Andrew Harding, centre, listens to member feedback at an Ask the CEO event.

I think it is fair to say that a generation ago it would have been hard to predict the pace of change we are now witnessing in today's business world. However, this rapid, seismic movement occurring around us is here to stay. It is the new normal, and that will remain the case.

The digital age has led to a ripping up of the rule book, and businesses are having to adapt quickly. Very quickly.

They need to ensure they remain relevant now, but also need to prepare to ensure they remain so in the future. That is affecting their business models, their priorities, their balance sheets, and, of course, their workforce needs.

And that is particularly relevant for finance professionals, who find they have to do so much more now to ensure they stay at the top of their game and, importantly, are ready for whatever the future throws at them.

For this reason, I believe that our work at CIMA is more relevant now than ever — for the entire profession.

We regularly carry out research with our members and listen to your feedback and questions at events. You tell us that the two most important things you want to see from us are value for money and an improved reputation for management accountants.

That is precisely why we are working hard to maintain and enhance the recognition of the ACMA, FCMA, and CGMA designations — we aim for these to be seen as the gold standard by employers globally now and into the future.

And, as part of an accountancy association with nearly 700,000 members and students, we are now advocating on behalf of members on a global scale and are able to create resources to meet the evolving needs of finance professionals. That said, we realise there is always more to do.

One of the things we do to stay ahead is undertake research to ensure our members are set for the future. For example, we recently carried out a UK-wide study, Mind the Skills Gap, which showed how 8 million people face an uncertain future if they do not change their mindset towards gaining new skills and get to grips with what employers need for the digital economy.

For our global research into the Future of Finance we consulted with more than 300 business and finance executives across 14 countries to define exactly what skills are required from finance professionals for the next few decades and beyond.

This was carried out with the intention of allowing us to further develop the CGMA Competency Framework, syllabus, and learning for members. It is our job to help equip you with the skills you need.

We also want to increase your employability. It is important that employers know that if they take on one of our members, they are taking on a rounded and top-quality professional who has all the skills needed in today's changing world and a mindset that allows them to constantly learn and adapt.

We are also hands-on. Based in 41 offices around the world, Association staff and representatives are working with employers to better understand their expectations and showcase the value our members bring to an organisation. And an international independent survey of more than 1,000 employers undertaken last year shows this is having a positive effect. Amongst respondents familiar with the CGMA designation, 91% said it is valuable to their organisations, and more than three quarters, 76%, pay a premium to those who hold it.

To ensure this remains the case, we have relaunched the online CGMA Store with a growing portfolio of hundreds of CPD courses covering everything from the basics through to cutting-edge accounting and technology resources on topics such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and automation.

We ensure that your member benefits include a range of free resources, like the daily CGMA Advantage briefing and Human Intelligence Series. We have launched guidance and tools in critical and emerging areas such as cybersecurity risk management, integrated reporting, and sustainability reporting. In addition, we produce a stream of thought leadership articles to ensure you stay up to date and on top of emerging issues, topics, and work practices.

We are also working more with employers and other stakeholders — from politicians to academics and regulators — to reinforce the value of being a member and the work CIMA is doing to lead the profession. I was recently invited to the UK Financial Reporting Council's Financial Reporting Lab Steering Group, which will help ensure we can provide valuable feedback and ideas to this important organisation. We continue to have dialogues with many other regulators around the world.

Media and social media engagement also plays a key role in our efforts to build awareness of the importance of CIMA members, their designations, and our work to drive the profession forward on accounting and business issues.

Of course, there is always more we can do, and there is work in progress to build an infrastructure that will be allow us to provide you a more personalised member experience. Our goal is to put members at the heart of everything we do.

We are committed to being there for you — helping you be the best you can — now and into the future.

As this year draws to a close, I would like to wish each of you a festive end to 2018 and invite you to celebrate with us our centenary year in 2019.

For more on maximising your benefits as a CIMA member, visit