The four knowledge areas of finance competency

The CGMA Competency Framework defines four knowledge areas that finance professionals need to drive their organisations’ success. The framework, released Thursday, also offers employers and management accountants a guide for the assessment of the skills needed for current and future roles.

Three research phases, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and validated by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), led to the development of the competency framework. First, in-person interviews were done with 67 organisations from Malaysia, South Africa, the UK and US. Second, round-table discussions took place in 13 countries from Asia, Europe, Africa and North and South America. Third, more than 3,000 CIMA members and students took part in an online survey.

The framework is the underpinning of CIMA’s 2015 Professional Qualification Syllabus. The syllabus is the basis for a strategic case-study exam that candidates will need to pass, starting in 2015, to obtain the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation. CIMA partnered with the AICPA to create the designation in January 2012.

The CGMA Competency Framework is composed of four knowledge areas: technical, business, people and leadership skills. Organisations shared specifics from their own corporate competency frameworks to provide insight for the CGMA Competency Framework, which gives employers a way to benchmark finance competencies and write better job descriptions and provides academic leaders relevant curriculum topics.

Within each knowledge area are competencies and skillsets that are spread across four proficiency levels: foundational, intermediate, advanced and expert. As individuals progress in proficiency, the weighting of each knowledge area changes. Foundational-level professionals, for example, should focus more on technical skills, while expert-level professionals should focus mostly on leadership skills.

Here are the four knowledge areas and selected competencies within those areas:

  • Technical skills. Collecting, storing and processing information to be shared with other stakeholders. Tasks include financial accounting and reporting; cost accounting; treasury management; and tax strategy, planning and compliance.
  • Business skills. Using knowledge of the organisation and the organisation’s business environment to turn data into insight. Tasks include strategy, process and project management, and macroeconomic analysis.
  • People skills. Used to influence decisions, actions and behaviours of decision-makers and other stakeholders. Tasks include negotiating, decision-making, and collaborating or partnering.
  • Leadership skills. These skills come in three types – peer, functional and strategic. Tasks include team building, managing change and driving performance.

“With the role of finance constantly developing, it can be hard for employers to know the standard to expect of their management accountants,” Charles Tilley, FCMA, CGMA, the chief executive of CIMA, said in a news release. “The CGMA Competency Framework is research-led and informed by those on the front line of business, and it will show employers the new knowledge requirements and skills needed for both current and future management accountancy roles. In addition, it will help accountants to become more employable by guiding them through their professional development, as well as helping educators to better prepare students to become well-grounded management accountants.”

Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, the president and CEO of the AICPA, said in the release: “Today’s CEOs need a partner at the helm – a co-pilot to help steer clear of obstacles and toward opportunities. They are turning to their management accountants to provide this guidance, to pull insight from information and connect it to operations in new ways to position their businesses for long-term, sustainable success. The CGMA Competency Framework ensures management accountants’ skills remain aligned with the demands of an increasingly complex and constantly changing business environment.”

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.