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Understanding the global professional qualification advantage

By Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive – MA, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

Here’s why we need more qualified professionals in the workforce

In an increasingly borderless world, career professionals need more than a baseline set of skills to stand out. Many organisations look for strategic partners that can help them make good business decisions and stay relevant in a competitive market. 

Having a qualification that is awarded by professional bodies can equip career professionals with the skills they need to succeed. 

In a response to the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy consultation on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications and Regulation of Professions, the AICPA & CIMA advocacy team highlighted three reasons why professional body education and qualifications are important: 

  1. Promotes public trust in the profession 

Professional associations impose rules, ethics, standards and a professional outlook on their members, which provides a measurable standard that members abide by when providing their services. 

CIMA-qualified Chartered Global Management Accountant® (CGMA®) designation holders are held to the following guidelines: 

  • Practicing the CIMA Code of Ethics, which includes the fundamental principles of integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care, confidentiality, and professional behaviour; 
  • A professional requirement to undertake continuous professional development (CPD) courses imposed by CIMA’s Royal Charter, By-laws and Regulations; and 
  • Active maintenance of licensure, appropriate service standards, insurance and continuous compliance with AML legislations. CGMA designation holders who fall short of acceptable standards can be held to account under our disciplinary procedures. 

Since CGMA designation holders help ensure the creation and success of many businesses across the world, we are actively invested in ensuring that those who employ, deal with or rely on the professional opinion of any CGMA designation holder can be assured by the standards listed above.

  2. Encourages meritocracy and social mobility 

Professional qualifications offer a route for anyone who has the interest and passion to specialise in a field to do so, which helps level the playing field and reduces the opportunity gap between professionals of various social and economic backgrounds. 

CIMA offers the Certificate in Business Accounting, which provides a pathway to the professional qualification open to students from all walks of life and education backgrounds. CIMA has also established other gateways into the professional qualification based on previous qualifications and professional experience, which does not differentiate between domestic or international qualifications.  

Through this open intake system, CIMA has increased its share of female members from 40% in 2014 to 43% in 2019; for female students, these figures are 46% in 2014 up to 49% in 2019. Our students are also highly diverse in age (35% over 35, 12% over 45) and BAME where we achieve higher representation than that in the general local population. 

  3. Develops crucial skill sets for economic growth 

Professional qualifications identify key skills and competencies and turn them into an educational process. This helps career professionals to develop these skills and meet the challenges of employers, which drives wider economic growth and productivity. 

At CIMA, we have historically reviewed the syllabus of our professional qualification every five years. We are now embarking on a series of more regular reviews and interventions to ensure the qualification remains relevant in this fast-changing world.  

Our 2019 Future of Finance research and its findings informed the 2019 CIMA professional qualification. This year-long research, which spanned 150 countries and featured over 5,500 finance professionals in 200 organisations, opened insights into the challenges of businesses and employers globally.  

The updated syllabus sets out the body of knowledge, skills and techniques that employers value and need. By collaborating with learning partners, test design experts and psychometricians, we translated the syllabus content into core activities, assessment outcomes and representative task statements. Both the syllabus and the exams work together to drive employability and organisational performance. 

Making the case for government promotion

The AICPA & CIMA Advocacy team made their case for the UK government to actively promote the strength of UK professional body education and accreditation in future trade deals.

They pushed this message before in response to the House of Lords EU Committee inquiry into The future UK-EU relationship on professional and business services where two comments were picked up by the committee in the report. One of these comments focused on the importance of mutual recognition of qualifications in the ongoing negotiations and a future UK and EU trade deal.  

The Advocacy team has continued to focus on promoting the importance of UK professional education to the profession and wider economy and will continue to push this message to policy makers on behalf of the profession and members in the months to come. 

This post is an excerpt from CIMA UK’s full submission to the BEIS Mutual Recognition of Qualifications consultation. To learn more about our global awareness work for the accounting profession among public councils and government bodies, check out the CIMA Advocacy page