The view from the President: The profession-academia bond

 CIMA President Steven Swientozielskyj, FCMA, CGMA

I have had two themes for my presidential year. These are to respect our heritage and embrace our future.

In this column I would like to share how we are positioning CIMA for the future. It has been an exciting privilege to champion our Future of Finance research. I have been proud to present at events globally on the research findings — and used them as a platform to talk to members and students, employers, regulators, policymakers, the media, and not least, academics.

For example, I spoke at a New Zealand conference where I met an academic who stressed the importance of the profession and academics working together to discuss issues. Based on what she had learned about the Future of Finance research, her response was “to run” to make changes to her university’s finance course.

The Future of Finance is not only a piece of research. On 31 January, I was at the launch of the updated, future-proofed CGMA Competency Framework and 2019 CIMA Professional Qualification Syllabus. The buzz at this event in London and streamed online was terrific. Speakers, panellists, and a presentation by Noel Tagoe, FCMA, CGMA, Ph.D., the Association’s executive vice-president–management accounting, research and curricula, who has led the Future of Finance work, were outstanding.

CIMA is committed to advancing the science of management accounting through rigorous research into the issues that are important for business. This research includes thought leadership by our technical specialists and commissioned academic research from our Global Academic and Universities Research Engagement Programme.

Last year 44 universities spread across 17 countries applied with proposals to investigate further the findings of our Future of Finance research.

After careful evaluation, we commissioned three projects: the first by a team from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, which will examine how the different business units of a major global automotive company implement a digital business strategy. It will investigate the drivers and effects of digital business strategies and whether implementing them is equally important for all business units.

The second is a project being undertaken by a team from Essec Business School in France, which is looking at management accountants’ role in companies’ digital transformation. It will investigate how management accountants in France and Germany leverage digitisation to shape the digital transformation of their companies. It will also examine how the digital revolution is changing the management accounting function.

Monash University in Australia and WHU–Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany are jointly undertaking the third project. It explores the use of predictive analytics for forecasting in two global companies that are leaders in their sectors — one in software development and the other a chemicals manufacturer.

This is valuable work and a component of our strategy to future-proof management accounting.

Much is said about innovation. A recent Harvard Business Review article talked about how operating performance can decline by up to 8% a year for those companies with no (or very low digitisation). Furthermore, those businesses that embrace “digital reinvention” add 1.8% to their operating performance growth on average compared with their peers.

I believe this can also translate to individuals’ performance — we need to be continually scanning the horizon to be aware of new technologies and adopt the right mindset to embrace new methods of working.

CIMA has a wonderful, rich heritage, and we are also now in a great position to move forward into a challenging and exciting new future.

If you would like to comment on these important issues I have raised, please get in touch at

In my next FM column in April in print I will discuss how our members and our Institute are embracing change and why we need to keep the human touch as digitisation increases and our footprint expands.

Finally, I fully endorse this quote from physicist William Pollard: “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”