Report shows required accounting skills are evolving

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CIMA, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, released its mid-year student enrolment statistics. Enrolments are up from 2011 with over 1600 students having registered for CIMA accounting studies since the beginning of 2012, compared to over 1400 that enrolled in the same period last year. This is a 16% year on year increase in enrolment.

The enrolment statistics coincided with the release of a new global report by CIMA and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), sponsored by recruitment experts Hays, which looks at global prospects for finance professionals. The report, entitled The fast track to leadership - the challenges, opportunities and action plan is the first in a series of reports that will look at global talent requirements and trends.

It concludes that as organisations operate in an increasingly challenging climate, a board?s expectations of the finance function are becoming far more complex. As a result, finance professionals have never had a better opportunity to progress their careers and make a real mark on their organisation.

Says Zahra Cassim, Head: CIMA South Africa: "Globally and in South Africa, there is definitely an increased demand for finance professionals to act as strategic business partners and help drive long-term sustainable success. This in turn places a greater demand on the skills and experience sought by organisations, especially in areas where management accountants can add real value and offer a competitive edge.'

This increased demand is translating into strong enrolment growth at CIMA. Last year CIMA South Africa recorded an 18% year on year student growth on 2010 enrolments, with over 2000 new students registering in 2011. Says Cassim: "This year we are ahead of our mid-year plan, in part thanks to some record enrolment numbers during the first part of the year. This positive year on year growth shows that, in line with the report findings, CIMA continues to be an attractive accounting qualification for those planning to enter a career in business.'

As at July 31, CIMA South Africa has over 8000 members and students.
Says Cassim: "I believe this is indicative of the worldwide growing awareness of the distinct value a CIMA-qualified management accountant can add to an organisation beyond reporting and accounting. In fact, we are seeing an increasing number of corporate graduate recruitment programmes in South Africa specifying CIMA as one of the qualifications criteria under consideration when recruiting finance graduates.

In recent weeks, Unilever, Samancor, Imperial Logistics and Toyota?s graduate recruitment programmes opened for 2012 and all these organisations include CIMA as a preferred qualification for their finance graduate programme.'

Ana Barco, report author and Head of innovation - talent management at CIMA, based in the UK agrees: "In the more forward-looking organisations, finance is evolving from a focus on the transactional and cost efficiency areas to a real strategic focus where it can make a massive impact. This evolution is influencing the capabilities that finance professionals now need to demonstrate and bring to an organisation. It also highlights the exciting opportunities for Chartered Management Accountants and those wishing to enter the profession.

"Despite many organisations cutting investment in training, highlighted by the CGMA Q2 Global Economic Forecast, leading employers still recognise CIMA?s ability to provide these capabilities and support business success. This is reflected by our global new student growth, with over 26,000 joining last year.'

Although many CIMA students hold a previous finance qualification and enter the CIMA professional qualification with exemptions, there are many who follow CIMA from the Certificate in Business Accounting level, which is CIMA?s foundation level. This enables successful students at Certificate level to embark on the professional qualification without any prior financial qualification. To enter at Certificate level, prospective students need only a pass in mathematics and English.

Says Cassim: "This certainly offers a great opportunity for prospective management accounting students who didn?t attend university and are already working, but nevertheless want to achieve a professional qualification.

There is a lot of untapped talent out there and university is out of reach for many. As an institute, we can play a key role in fulfilling the finance and managerial skills shortage.'

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