The role of management accountants, or finance and accounting professionals, involves partnering in management decision-making, devising planning and performance management systems, and providing expertise in financial reporting and control to formulate and implement an organization’s strategy. To keep pace with the changing business environment and technological advances, IMA has analyzed the emerging competencies needed by management accountants. It has updated the IMA Management Accounting Competency Framework. This Framework identifies six domains of core knowledge, skills, and abilities that finance and accounting professionals need to remain relevant in the Digital Age and effectively perform their current and future roles. The Framework and associated materials are offered as guidance for skills assessment, career development, and talent management within the profession.

The strategy, planning, and performance domain represent the competencies that enable management accountants to be visionaries focusing on the future. As part of this visionary focus, management accountants must lead strategic planning, guide decision-making, manage the organization’s risks, and monitor performance against a plan. Reporting and control is the domain encompassing the more traditional management accounting stewardship roles of measuring and reporting an organization’s performance and compliance with standards and regulations. This includes the organization’s system of internal controls, maintaining the accounting records, and determining service and product costs.

As the world moves into a digital era, management accountants must be catalysts for adopting new technologies and ensuring data reliability, integrity, and security. They must be comfortable using data analytics tools to analyze data and prepare data visualizations to support decision-making activities within the organization. Additionally, management accountants must possess business acumen and operations knowledge as they partner with other organizational leaders on cross-functional teams designed to transform operations. While extensive organizational knowledge is necessary, they must develop broader industry-specific knowledge and expertise and project management, quality management, and process improvement capabilities.

The final two competencies must be pervasive throughout everything a management accountant does. First, management accountants must collaborate rather than work in silos. They must champion the group’s efforts through inspiration, communication, motivation, collaboration, and negotiation that move the group toward achieving the organization’s goals. Second, management accountants must guide others toward professional, ethical behavior. Without ethical behavior and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, the organization’s sustainable operations will be in jeopardy.