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January 27, 2009

CIMA strengthens ties across world

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) has eased its members’ access to qualification from institutes in Canada, Australia and India.

The UK-based institute has signed a new reciprocity agreement with CPA Australia; agreed to mutual advanced entry for students from the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants in India (ICWAI); and renewed an agreement with the Society of Management Accountants of Canada (CMA Canada).

The agreement between CIMA and ICWAI introduces a new CIMA Professional Gateway examination, available from May, for ICWAI students who have completed the whole ICWAI professional examination.

The exam will enable a fast track route into CIMA’s strategic level examinations, where they will sit the institute’s last four papers.

The gateway is a new product that CIMA hopes could be a template used in discussions with other bodies. CIMA students wishing to gain membership of the ICWAI will also have a fast track route.

Breaking into India

The agreement is part of a wider joint education and training agreement designed to lower accounting education barriers between the UK and India.

As part of the project the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has also formed an agreement with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). Other UK-based institutes may participate in the next phase.

India is a hard market for foreign accounting institutes to enter as national legislation dictates that accounting professionals must be licensed by ICWAI or ICAI. CIMA education director Robert Jelly explained that CIMA has always known it can’t operate in India on its own and needed a partner.

“So that was the real driver behind this – that we establish a good working relationship because we have got quite a number of large businesses in India that signalled quietly that they want to use CIMA as their main training,” Jelly said.

CIMA is already receiving enquiries from costs and works students in India asking how they can sign up, Jelly added.

ICWAI president Kunal Banerjee added that the agreement is not just about education. The two bodies also want to undertake research together and learn from each other’s systems.

CIMA’s new agreement with CPA Australia is a full mutual recognition agreement that removes the need for members of one body to sit any examinations with the other. Each of the bodies reserves the right to look at the practical experience requirements of each.

CPA Australia offers both an audit and business qualification, so the agreement with CIMA is open only to students who take the business route.

CIMA’s new mutual recognition agreement with CMA Canada is the renewal of an agreement initially signed in 2005.

Aside from mutual recognition for students, other benefits include access to extended resources for joint research, economies of scale and a joint professional development programme.

CMA Canada president and chief executive Steve Vieweg said the Canadian institute entered the agreement because the two organisations had similar goals and objectives focussing solely on management accounting.

CMA Canada is an umbrella body for organisations in 10 Canadian provinces. Its member organisations have 40,000 certified members and 10,000 students combined. Vieweg said about 100 to 150 members have already taken advantage of the agreement.

National audit bodies have been forming international alliances for some years now and Jelly conceded that management accounting organisations have moved a bit slower.

“Obviously the world is all about alliances and franchising and so on, this is all part of our new 2015 strategy, realising we can’t do it all on our own – we need to work together,” he said.

“This is the future, as well as growing our own base organically we want to work in partnership with others.”

Partnerships

The cross-border relationships are not limited to CIMA. CMA Canada has had a mutual recognition agreement with CPA Australia since April last year and Banerjee told The Accountant that the ICWAI is currently in talks with CMA Canada and the US-based Institute of Management Accountants.

CIMA is also in discussions with the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants in Pakistan.

Vieweg said feedback from the Australian and CIMA agreement has been extremely positive throughout and although there are no specific plans to extend relations to other countries at present, it may be something of future consideration.

Carolyn Canham and Melanie White

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