October 4, 2022

The AICPA’s CGMA Designation Is the Most Popular Management Accounting Designation in the U.S., Says AICPA

Oh look, the AICPA put out a press release that says the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation is the "most prominent management accounting credential in the U.S. with 37,864 CFOs, controllers and other finance professionals holding the designation."  Plus, it's managed to its way into some of the most prestigious companies in America!

U.S. CGMA designation holders are present in 91 of Fortune 100 companies, according to AICPA research, and 440 of the Fortune 500. Nearly a third work in C-suite level roles, including CEO, CFO, COO and president. Globally, there are more than 128,000 total CGMA designation holders who are helping shape 95 of the world’s top 100 brands.

Isn't that wonderful?

Too bad it's a completely loaded statistic. If you remember, the AICPA granted a free auto-enroll period for six months to AICPA members "who have three years’ experience in management accounting." So you could ballpark that at least half of those 37k CGMAs simply got the extra letters by filling out some paperwork. The end.

In addition to the grandfather period, the AICPA also created an incentive for state societies to push the new credential by greasing them with a revenue-sharing deal:

“The CGMA will be launched January 31, 2012,” said the AICPA in a letter to the state CPA societies. “Qualifying members will be enrolled during a free introductory period that extends through July 2012, and will be asked to renew the designation beyond that period for an annual fee of $150. Those acquiring and holding the CGMA through the AICPA who are also members of a State Society will receive a $50 discount off the regular fee of $150, encouraging them to maintain dual membership.” The letter goes on to say that state CPA societies who choose to participate in the agreement with the AICPA-CIMA joint venture will qualify for “royalty, revenue-sharing and co-branding opportunities.”
The option to check either "Active AICPA Regular Member" or "Active AICPA Regular Member and a state CPA society member" is on the CGMA application and it's likely that this small fee is reimbursed by most accounting firms. There's an army of CPAs out there working in industry that probably got something "IMPORTANT FOR YOUR CAREER" from the AICPA, saw the offer and thought, "why not." BOOM. 37,864 CGMAs with shiny new certificates on their wall.
Despite all this being out in the open, AICPA CEO Barry Melancon is feeling pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay good about their progress:
“We set out a year ago to raise the bar on management accounting — a critical discipline at the intersection of finance and strategy that helps businesses connect the dots across their organizations, manage tumultuous times and navigate a path toward long-term sustainable success,” said Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, and president and CEO of the AICPA. “The CGMA designation distinguishes those professionals who have achieved demanding levels of financial education and experience and provides organizations the consistency and confidence they need to operate across borders, around the world.”
They even managed a couple of testimonials from a CFO and an operations controller, rounding out quite the satisfying pat on the back for not doing really anything at all. 
Let's call this for what it is — a new revenue stream that undercuts and disrupts a competitor, the Institute of Management Accountants, and their designation, the CMA. 
Which is fine! This is America and all. Melancon said that they set out to "raise the bar on management accounting" and I guess it does because now there are 37,000 some-odd people out there that won't have any interest in obtaining a CMA. Sure, maybe some of them already had a CMA and figured it was worth the 5 minutes to fill out the form and get more letters, but the ones that didn't have a CMA before certainly aren't going to get one now. What would the point be? There's a test to become a CMA. Who wants to take another test? 
I don't care for this misleading press release by the AICPA, but I am impressed with their willingness to play some serious hardball.
Your move, IMA. 

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