The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) is as association of professionals from accounting and financial fields. It is an international organization that provides networking and professional development to the worldwide community of accountancy. It provides oversight and standards to certify the skills and knowledge that professionals in accounting and related disciplines are ethical, upright and competent workers.
The IMA excels at connecting its members. The Institute provides its own online social network, LinkUp IMA, that allows for asynchronous professional discussion, facilitates the work of regional chapters and councils, and offers study opportunities to the members. In addition, there are a number of local and regional sub-groups within the Institute, that bring members together to discuss professional concerns and share knowledge. Further, there are a number of conferences and other events that foster collegiality and professional identity. All of the avenues of interaction ensure that members have ample opportunity to connect with one another; this not only benefits them as individuals, but strengthens the broader business culture and community.
The Institute is perhaps best known for offering the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam and certification. The CMA exam is targeted toward accounting individuals working in company and corporate roles, whereas as the more common CPA exam is geared towards customer facing accounts. The CMA requires less formal coursework but more professional experience than the CPA certification. The CMA is awarded after passing a demanding two-part exam; each part is four hours in length, and in 2014, only half who sat for it passed the exam. Once certified, the professionals must maintain continuing education requirements, ensuring that those who hold the certification remain experts in their field. CMAs are typically rewarded by higher pay, on average one-third more than can be expected by those without the credential.
The Institute of Management Accountants also offers its members many opportunities to expand and refine their knowledge and skills. The IMA provides resources for continuing education, such as those required of CMAs. Not only does this include training for the CMA exam and beyond, but it also includes a number of publications and training events. The IMA publishes several magazines and professional journals and hosts webinars that report on the newest developments in accounting theory and practice. In addition, resources for researchers and educators are available to help even those who are not directly engaged in the work of accounting to help others find their way within it. This educational information provides great value to those who invest in membership.
There are other professional bodies open to accountants and their financial colleagues, but the Institute of Management Accountants is one of the most prestigious organizations. Global in its scope, the IMA is greatly invested in ensuring that it’s members are the professionals that businesses seek to fill critical accounting roles. The prestige that comes with membership and certification makes this an organization well worth joining.