[Sponsored article] Founded a hundred years ago, The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants. You can find our members and students in 179 countries at the cutting edge of finance, working at the heart of organisations to guide decision makers and drive transformation in the digital world. Building on CIMA’s rich heritage and work with the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), we have launched the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation and formed the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. We are driving a dynamic accounting profession worldwide and leading both public and management accounting professionals into the future. Together, we are reimagining the world of finance. Building tomorrow’s skillset The role and expectation of finance in the business is rapidly changing from chief stewards of reporting and expenses to being leaders that help set the path for their organisation. A transition from number crunchers to value drivers. CIMA has always driven the finance profession forward and earlier this year we delivered the findings of a seminal research project which looked at what the future holds. The report Re-inventing finance for a digital world revealed that current and future finance professionals need to embrace technology to drive and deliver solutions that create value for the business. It found that in order to thrive, finance professionals need to develop new digital skills and competencies that complement their traditional finance and accounting skills. They also need to become proactive learners who continuously learn, unlearn and relearn new skills to deal with complexity and operate in an agile working environment. The CIMA Professional Qualification In response, the CIMA Professional Qualification has been updated to cover the competencies and skills employers expect in a tech-led business world. These include current and future hot topics such as digital costing and digital strategy, business models, automation, blockchain, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and data analytics. Understanding these emerging areas will be critical to support them through the fast-paced changes affecting finance and how it supports business and business performance. Combined with the key technical skills and competencies such as critical thinking, decision-making, leadership and communications skills included in the syllabus, these updates continue to ensure that we continue to help finance professionals reach their full potential. What our students say As an experienced management professional who holds a prominent C-suite position, for Lofai Lo, director and general manager at free-to-air VIU TV, gaining his CGMA designation through the TopCFO pathway has added new dimensions to his decision making. "I have more decision tools I can use," Lo explains. "When I look at financial statements I can combine my practical experience with academic thinking, which gives me more choices," adds Lo who completed his Master of Science in Sociology at the University of Oxford as well as a programme for leadership development at Harvard Business School. Coming from a non-finance academic background, Lo says the rigorous CGMA framework has also helped to expand his sphere of thinking. "The programme prepares you to consider new angles and principles needed to deal with complex issues in an increasingly complex world of business," notes Lo. Furthermore, Lo explains that studying for the CGMA designation has helped to satisfy his professional curiosity. For instance, why financial reporting needs to be conducted in a certain way. "The programme provides you with new perspectives, but also encourages you to continue to expand your knowledge and insights," notes Lo who stresses that passing the CGMA examination is not easy, which adds relevance and credibility to the designation. Designed to complement existing experience in business and finance, the TopCFO Program enables C-Suite executives with at least 10 years of experience in finance or business functions to attend workshops and sit the last paper of the CGMA Professional Qualification. Delivered online in case study format, CGMA examinations are designed to test a candidate’s problem solving skills in real business situations. Coverage includes financial strategy, risk management and strategic management, as well as research, data analysis and communication skills. Johnny Li, manager at Mercer Marsh Benefits, whose pathway to gaining his CGMA designation began as a strategic component of his management trainee programme, says the true value of the CGMA is that it fully encompasses financial and business acumen. "The CGMA programme is not just about one aspect, it equips you with a set of skills needed to understand and operate in the changing world of business and finance," Li says, "this is key factor in what makes the CGMA designation distinguishing." Li also explains how the CGMA programme has prepared him holistically to adapt to a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) environment. For example, the combination of hard and soft skills training incorporated into the CGMA competency framework is particularly helpful in a business world that is increasingly becoming digital and disrupted by technology. "CGMA training gives you the agility and adaptability to respond confidently to changing business environments," says Li who graduated with a BSc Economics, from the London School of Economics and an MSc Financial Economics from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Describing the digital component of the CGMA competency framework as the "icing on the cake", Li says he utilises digital analytics to understand how different parts of the organisation connect to one another and also how the organisation connects to its operating environment. "As a general manager, CGMA continually helps to shape my career," says Li.