The new president of the Chartered
Institute of Management Accountants has worked in almost all the
major countries the institute has members in. Aubrey Joachim tells
The Accountant about how the CIMA qualification is a
passport to working around the world and why he picked ‘relevance’
as the theme for his presidential term.

he Chartered Institute of Management
Accountants (CIMA) has elected its first president who comes from
outside the UK and Ireland

Aubrey Joachim was born and educated in Sri
Lanka, is of Portuguese descent and is now an Australian citizen,
but his international experience does not end there.

Working for engineering and construction
company McDermott International, Joachim also lived and worked in
Dubai, Singapore, London and even briefly in New Zealand.

In 2005, he set up a boutique consultancy that
runs strategic financial and management accounting workshops,
courses and conferences across the world. His most recent
assignment was speaking at a risk management conference in Zambia
and he has worked in countries as far and wide as China, Malaysia,
Singapore, Vietnam and Iran.

Travelling the world

Joachim says the highlight of his
career has been the opportunity to travel and see the world.

“If there is one book I will write at the end
of my career when I sit down somewhere to pen my thoughts, it will
be titled: Talking My Way Across the World,” he says.

Joachim is a strong advocate for CIMA,
crediting his mobility and achievements to the competence provided
by the professional qualification.

But while CIMA may have helped facilitate
Joachim’s global career, through his presidency he is providing
international credence to the institute, which is based and still
has its majority of members in the UK.

“For 90-odd years CIMA has always thought of
itself as a UK-centric organisation and still to some extent there
is that thinking among our council members,” Joachim says.

“I am sure there will be some members in the
UK who do not know the reach and extent of CIMA across 160-odd
countries.

“I am bringing the perspective that this is an
international body and I often use the analogy that we talk a
common language, irrespective of which country we go to.

“A financial or a regulatory accountant has to
talk the language of the country of domicile, has to understand the
laws and regulations and audit practices there, but we go into a
business and business is common across the world.

“Therefore, we talk the language of business,
which is ubiquitous. The qualification has cut across cultures, it
has cut across language barriers, it has cut across
jurisdictions.”

In The Accountant’s most recent
survey of the UK accounting profession, CIMA reported that about 25
percent of its members and 39 percent of students were based
abroad. Joachim says international student growth far exceeds
growth in the UK.

He hopes that in the next five to 10 years
there will an equal number of members spread across the globe.

The universal appeal of the CIMA designation
links to the theme Joachim has chosen for his presidential term,
which is ‘relevance’.

“An organisation like ours has to be relevant,
relevant enough to attract the right type of people to become
members and students. Relevant in order to provide the right level
of syllabus and level of knowledge that we want to impart to all
our members,” he explains.

To remain relevant, CIMA members must get
involved in risk, strategy and helping organisations manage their
performance and achieve financial outcomes, Joachim says.

He adds that there is no better time than the
current economic climate for finance professionals to demonstrate
this relevance as some organisations have not faced recessions
before.

“If organisations are looking for our members
to be able to provide confidence and help them get over this
situation it is all the more reason why we as a body must be
relevant in the current climate – giving advice, understanding what
happens in business and helping our members, who in turn will help
their organisations,” Joachim says.

To remain relevant, finance professionals have
to evolve, he adds.

“We have to move from being mere
number-crunchers and spreadsheet jockeys to people who really add
value to the bottom line,” he says.

Joachim has high expectations for CIMA members
too.

He says he would be disappointed to see a CIMA
member in a strictly financial role 7-10 years after
qualification.

“We want that person to move into the real
guts of the business, that is the challenge and that is what I
would expect of every CIMA member going forward,” he says.