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The CMA competency framework: unlike any other: CMA Canada's new competency mapping framework clearly defines the management accounting territory, delineating what employers and clients expect of a CMA at every career stage. It also provides a solid foundation for CMAs to expand their field of practice.

CMA Canada is developing an innovative competency framework that will ensure CMAs remain the premier strategic financial management professionals who lead successful enterprises in the global marketplace.

"Development of a competency-based approach to pre- and post-certification for CMAs is one of the key priorities coming out of our strategic renewal process," says Bill Langdon, Vice President of Knowledge Management for CMA Canada.

Langdon explained that CMA Canada's strategic renewal process has evolved to encompass three distinct areas: the future world of work (which examines market forces shaping organizations and their evolving expectations of professional accountants in business); enhancing the strategic positioning of the CMA brand to increase marketplace recognition; and expanding the field of practice for the CMA.

"The competency mapping framework is at the core of our strategic renewal imperatives," said Langdon. "It forms the connective tissue between our mission and vision and strategies, and becomes a key component in growing the management accounting profession. This is one of the most significant and exciting strategic initiatives CMA Canada has ever undertaken."

Stakeholder Needs

He said the detailed competency map to be developed as an outcome of the framework will act as a foundation for articulating the specific expectations of competence for current and future CMAs, in alignment with market and stakeholder needs.

"We define competency as the ability to perform occupational or professional responsibilities, tasks and duties to a defined standard through a measurable level of knowledge, skills, practical experience and behavioural practices," said Langdon. "In the initial phase of this process, we established national standards for both the accreditation and the continuous professional learning and development of Certified Management Accountants. Work then began on the development of a competency-based framework for pre- and post-certification."

He said CMA Canada's approach to a competency-based framework is unique.

Three Anchors

"Our competency mapping framework clearly defines the management accounting territory, delineating what employers and clients expect of a CMA. It incorporates three major anchors or foundation elements of our profession--accounting, management, and strategy--whose interaction truly differentiates CMAs from their competitors," said Langdon. "Our framework squarely addresses market demands by defining those competencies that a CMA is expected to demonstrate throughout their careers, with equal application to the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors."

The mapping framework defines each competency stage, encompassing the career level, the competency approach (i.e. the knowledge, functional skills, enabling skills, and experience required at each stage), and the tasks CMAs are expected to perform within the context of the competency approach.

"The three major anchors of our profession form the heart of our competency framework," explained Langdon. "The first, accounting, has been, and will continue to be, the grounding for CMA functional knowledge and expertise. It embraces analysis of revenue alternatives, managing costs, and building value in the organization. It will also integrate expansion of our competencies in the public accounting field."

Implementing Strategy

He said the second anchor of the competency framework is management, "which is about effectively implementing strategy. It includes monitoring progress towards strategic objectives, determining organizational goals, measuring and managing compliance and control risk, and allocating resources to maximize results. This anchor will also integrate development of a value-added assurance expertise for CMAs."

The third anchor is strategy, that is, integrating financial expertise with assessment of external and internal forces to generate and manage new strategies, or manage existing strategies. This embraces the creation, management and measurement of stakeholder value. It is the anchor that contributes to the formulation and implementation of an organization's mission, vision and strategic decisions.

"In our framework," said Langdon, "we have four competency stages: acquisition, basic proficiency, advanced proficiency, and mastery. Within these stages we describe functional competencies--performance measurement and management, internal control and governance, and risk management. The framework also addresses enabling competencies, which reflect the individual's personal attributes. These are decision-making and problem-solving, leadership and group dynamics, professional and ethical behaviour, and written and oral communication."

Langdon emphasized that "our competency framework is like no other in the marketplace, and truly captures and fosters the development of the unique capabilities of the CMA."

Value-Added Assurance

He pointed out that the CMA competency framework provides the foundation for other key strategic imperatives the organization has been pursuing this past year. One of these imperatives is the development of a value-added assurance expertise for CMAs, whose competencies will be defined in the management anchor of the competency map.

"In a world of increasing expectations for performance and accountability, we see the development of a value-added assurance expertise for CMAs to be critical," said Langdon. "The global regulatory environment, most dramatically illustrated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the U.S, has been, and will continue to be, the primary driver of growth in the demand for value-added assurance services."

He explained that value-added assurance services have nothing to do with auditing or attesting provided by the professional accountant in public accounting.

"Rather, these services assure senior management that an organization is able to detect and prevent fraud, focusing on such things as strategic performance measurement, risk management, internal control, and systems management," said Langdon.

CMA Canada is looking at developing competencies for members in five core areas of value-added assurance services: monitoring strategic performance; risk management; data integrity; governance; and safeguard of assets.

"In building competencies in value-added assurance services, CMA Canada members will provide the strategic leadership and analysis essential in allowing capital to be allocated as efficiently as possible, and in providing full and ethical information to shareholders, board members, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders," said Langdon.

Richard Benn, CMA Canada's Vice President of Program Development, added that the competency mapping framework will also support another key strategic imperative: expansion of the CMA field of practice to include public accounting.

"We are continuing to develop the programs necessary to equip CMAs with the knowledge, tools, techniques, and training needed for public accounting that will meet the highest standards for practice, legislated requirements, and customer expectations," said Benn.

He said CMA Canada has established a National Standard for Public Accounting for Certified Management Accountants, referencing and complementing the National Standard for the Accreditation of CMAs.

"We are now developing a public accounting syllabus for CMAs in public accounting, which describes the incremental knowledge, skills and attributes required to perform public accounting to the established CMA Canada national standard," said Benn.

Bill Langdon pointed out that it is not possible for any one individual to possess the entire range of functional and enabling competencies desired by the marketplace at the point of CMA certification.

"Our mapping framework articulates that a standard level of competence must be achieved in order for CMA certification to occur, but recognizes that competencies will continue to be refined and adapted as the individual member progresses in his or her career, and as market and public expectations continue to evolve," he explained. "The competency mapping framework extends the process of developing and periodically verifying competencies after a member earns the CMA designation and advances in his or her career. It provides a guide for members in their ongoing professional development efforts."
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Certified management accountants
Publication:CMA Management
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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