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The Secret to Retaining Top Talent? Development

Professional developmentWhat keeps CFOs up at night? Quite a few things, as it turns out. Increased global competition, the volatile economy, cybersecurity risks and an overwhelming amount of big data—to name a few topics. But it’s another subject which consistently comes up in my conversations with CFOs and other finance leaders, that hits even closer to home: talent. Today’s finance departments have a real need for the right team with the right mix of skills and competencies, not only in accounting, but in business, leadership, communications and other non-financial disciplines.

I’ve spoken to many executives whose organizations don’t have the resources or funding (or neither) to provide the full range of learning opportunities to their employees. According to a study by Deloitte, “Leadership and learning have dramatically increased in importance, but companies seem less capable to address those challenges. While the importance of learning and development quadrupled compared with last year, companies have struggled to redesign the training environment, incorporate new technologies, or employ digital learning tools.”

This is risky business.  Research shows that CPAs—young talent, in particular—will leave an organization if they don’t see opportunities to learn and grow. Additionally, a report by CFO Magazine found that possessing soft skills, like leadership, communications and general business acumen, “correlates more highly with longevity in positions and with the company.”

One suggestion I often make to leaders looking for an impactful and cost-effective way to provide learning and development is to consider the CGMA designation for their finance staff. The pathway to the CGMA designation is not easy—candidates must meet rigorous education and experience requirements, in addition to passing a strategic case study exam. But the lifelong journey of continuous learning and development that every CGMA designation holder embarks upon will be incredibly fruitful for your organization.

Based on the CGMA Competency Framework, the CGMA Learning Program in Strategic Management Accounting helps finance professionals develop the competencies identified by employers around the world as critical to the future of their organization. These competencies include skills in four knowledge areas: technical, business, people and leadership. The CGMA strategic case study exam tests these competencies and a CGMA candidate’s ability to apply both theoretical and practical knowledge to a real-world business scenario.

Other resources available to CGMA exam candidates include live review courses, which offer facilitated interactive sessions focused directly on passing the exam, the CGMA Exam – Case Study Guide and complimentary access to Harvard ManageMentor—an online skill-building tool that features videos, articles, tips and more on 44 management and leadership topics.

Once a candidate passes the CGMA exam and becomes a designation holder, they are granted full access to the AICPA l CIMA Competency and Learning website, a professional learning and development destination that allows CGMAs to learn when, where and how they want. The site’s self-assessment tool provides CGMAs with effective and impactful development opportunities, helping to sharpen their business acumen along with their communication and leadership skills.  This access will not only grow their potential, but also the potential of others in a cost effective way, saving training dollars. 

The learning your staff will develop through the CGMA designation will empower them to think as strategic advisors, ultimately helping your company make better business decisions—and helping you sleep a little better at night.

Arleen Thomas, Senior Vice President - Management Accounting and Global Markets, American Institute of CPAs.

Professional development image via Shutterstock

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