Accounting is probably the most important function in any business and often the most misunderstood too. When you think accounts you generally imagine a bunch of people wearing spectacles and peering over large books with a lot of numbers. That might have been true a long time ago, but now technology has changed all that. In this evolving landscape, it is good to see organizations like the IMA that have been nurturing and redefining this function for a century.
Everything is digital today and everyone is apprehensive of robots taking over their jobs, accounting is no exception to this. So, there is a lot of pressure on accounting professionals to keep reinventing themselves. Some of them then evolve into Management Accountants. Management accountants are vital to the financial health of organizations. They make critical decisions, safeguard a company’s integrity, and plan for business sustainability. They might be CFOs and controllers, budget analysts and treasurers, or one of many other game changers on internal teams. Most of all, as the majority of the accounting and financial workforce, they help drive an organization’s strategy and value amid an unpredictable market.
IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) is the worldwide association of accountants and financial professionals in business. Founded in 1919, they are one of the largest and most respected associations focused exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. The organization is committed to empowering their 125,000+ members—and those throughout the rest of the profession—to strengthen on-the-job skills, better manage companies, and accelerate careers. They help members to discover the myriad possibilities within the profession and build an actionable future in management accounting.
I recently attended the event where IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) was celebrating its centennial year at the seventh Middle East and India Regional Conference in Bangalore.
India’s rapid digital transformation and its impact on the management accounting profession was the backdrop of IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) celebrating its centennial year at the seventh Middle East and India Regional Conference in Bangalore. The global leadership team, led by Jeff Thomson, IMA President & CEO and Hanadi Khalife, Director, Middle East and India Operations, were present at the event and highlighted that this transformation was a call-to-action for professionals while encapsulating IMA’s role in advancing competencies in a digital age.
A key focus of the conference was the relevance and application of data science and the need for finance professionals to use such applications to deliver better business insights and forecasts. This would enable them to evolve up the value chain to become business partners and eventually, strategic enablers. But for that to happen, finance professionals would need to move beyond the realm of Excel spreadsheets and become business solvers. To highlight this, data from a recent IMA Pulse survey was shared that highlighted that almost half (45%) of the respondents had indicated that their company now takes a “strong” or “very strong” data-centric approach to information technology.
Speaking on the occasion, Thomson said, “These are interesting times for CFOs to be in. As the globalized economy becomes more disruptive, there’s greater pressure on finance to behave as both value stewards and value creators – moving beyond the numbers to offer insights and foresights for value and growth. We also believe that with the advent of automation and other disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, it is imperative for finance professionals to upskill themselves to be future ready – where the future of automation enabled by intelligent machines is now. At IMA, we’re seeing this transformation beginning to happen across the globe and it’s very heartening to see this happen in India as well, which has one of the largest populations of data and computer scientists anywhere in the world.”
“IMA remains committed towards the comprehensive development of finance and accounting professionals in India. We believe that there is huge growth potential for management accounting professionals across India, Middle East, and Africa as they let transformative technologies embrace the industry. Putting digital at the heart of their operations will revitalize the overall finance profession and make it future ready. As India’s ecosystem becomes more start-up driven and embraces a more disruptive model of business, it is imperative for finance and accounting professionals to upskill themselves to be future ready,” said Khalife.
During the centennial event, Thomson shared insights on the evolution of finance and accounting professionals and how global value chains are going digital and how this is impacting operations. He also moderated a panel discussion around Data Analysis & Tech in Corporate Finance/Management Accounting along with five panelists from Wipro, FOAA IN, Unilever, Founder Verso Holdings and HPE.
Kabir Ahmed Shakir, Former CFO, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd, Dr. Jai Ganesh, Senior Vice President & Head, Mphasis NEXT Labs, and Sandhya Sriram, Global Head of Audit & Risks, Wipro Enterprises, were a few industry luminaries also present on the occasion. Kabir Ahmed Shakir shared interesting insights on the expanding role of CFOs in the age of digital technologies, specifically around how technology is making the finance profession more effective while Dr. Jai Ganesh spoke about artificial intelligence (AI) as an enabler for decision analysis and enhanced due diligence using deep learning and natural language processing. In her address, Sriram shed light on the emerging trends of AI and machine Learning specific to the finance and accounting domains.
The conference also highlighted IMA’s leadership in advancing professionals globally over the last 100 years and how IMA has been working towards shaping the future for the next century.
This event highlighted the following key points for me
- Accounting as a discipline is evolving and integrating new tech developments in it’s stride
- Management Accountants are the people that help organizations to get into the how and why of accounting and guide them to profitability
- AI and Cloud are now changing the landscape of this function
- CMA as a professional certification is very relevant and future-proof in terms of orienting and preparing the professionals to take on technology and leverage it rather than be apprehensive of it
In a nutshell, IMA has been making accounting future-ready and tech friendly for over a century now and it looks like they will go on for a few more centuries to come.