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How Our Partnership with CIMA Challenged My Thinking and Changed My Perspective

International perspectivIn 2012, the AICPA partnered with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to develop the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation. Since launch, more than 150,000 individuals have obtained the designation, making it the most popular management accounting designation worldwide and setting the new standard for global recognition of management accounting.

The joint venture between the AICPA and CIMA provides our organizations, respective leadership teams and employees with a unique opportunity to learn and grow, develop and nurture relationships with interesting and inspiring colleagues, face challenges and step outside of comfort zones from time to time. Additionally, as the relationship between the AICPA and CIMA grows, I’m seeing directly how partnerships allow us to capitalize on each other’s strengths and combine them to serve members—or clients—with excellence.

The journey with our joint venture has taught me so many things, including, notably, that when you share a core purpose and values, the details will fall into place. Different organizations and cultures approach business objectives in different ways, and having the opportunity to see this firsthand enables us to work together to find the best solution. 

One of the most exciting, personal developments I’ve witnessed is how the joint venture has served as the impetus for fostering creativity in my critical thinking skills. I’ve found that when you are in the habit of approaching things a certain way, it can be a challenge to think outside the box. The more perspectives I’m exposed to, the more I’m able to find new ways of thinking and working. I also have gained a deep respect for how CIMA balances and effectively manages so many different cultures. Each of its five markets has a unique personality and CIMA works closely with its regional staff to drive the success of each one. These are skills and insights I could not have learned without our joint venture. Having a partnership with a foreign organization helps my staff and me to obtain the knowhow, and allows us to deliver it to our members.

And it’s crucial that the AICPA learn from CIMA and start to put these learnings into action. To me it is “when” not “if” an AICPA member will need support in the international arena. CPAs in accounting firms or in industry are increasingly dealing with international business issues. A recent CPA Letter Daily poll indicated that more than 50 percent of respondents said they are more than likely to have to address international issues affecting either their own firms or their clients’ operations as compared with five years ago.

I know that many of us serve local clients, yet I often hear how CPAs in various sized firms are helping clients with international tax or accounting issues. Something I heard from Michael Elliot, CPA, at spring Council really stuck with me. He said, “When I got into public accounting, I thought there was no way I could have a global impact. But [even] as a small two person firm in rural northeast Ohio, I have a global impact. My clients have a global impact. And those clients expect me to at least have a basic knowledge of how to assist them with their accounting and tax needs as they work in global markets.” Thirty years ago, Michael’s initial impression would have been correct. However, as the world changes, the profession continues to evolve.  

Do you find that more of your clients have an international interest or are affected by international issues? Share your experiences in the comments. 

Arleen Thomas, CPA, CGMA, Senior Vice President - Management Accounting, American Institute of CPAs. 

International meeting table courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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