Saturday, May 26, 2012
Not Just Bean Counters: CPA.CGMA
What do CPAs do? That was a question I posed on Titter. As expected, the most popular response was taxes. It is the one tangible for most people. Other responses were accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, and bill payment. Ironically the one service not mentioned was audit, which is the one service only CPAs can perform. Other services not mentioned were estate planning and succession planning.
What do CFOs do? CFOs oversee all of these functions inside one company. CFOs are also strategic leaders helping to establish the vision and mission, executing broader objectives, and aligning financial strategy to meet these organizational goals. It requires cross-functional collaboration and leadership. CFOs are also responsible for budgeting and forecasting, banking and financing, risk management, compliance, and designing financial systems.
Many CFOs are CPAs, but are as CPAs in business and industry, or management accountants, as opposed to CPAs in public practice. Now there is a designation, CGMA, that helps to differentiate the two. Chartered Global Management Accountant is the new designation resulting from a joint venture between the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and London-based Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). The purpose of which is to "elevate management accounting and further emphasize its importance for businesses worldwide."  The CGMA acknowledges the strategic role and leadership role that CPAs perform inside companies.
Tom Shreridan at Maryland CPAs wrote, "Modern accounting goes way beyond the numbers. Business today is global. The really good CPAs add context to the numbers . . . and help their organizations navigate an ever-changing world. In short, CPAs and management accountants today are more than number-crunchers. They're strategic business partners. Now, they have a designation that reflects that role." 
“The new CGMA is the culmination of a longstanding effort to help companies experience maximum integration between financial and non-financial information to drive a business’s growth, and to include that information in the financial reporting process,” AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, said at the launch. “CGMAs will accomplish that by managing change, risk and uncertainty; promoting operational efficiency and effectiveness; and protecting corporate assets.”