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The IMA Is Beefing With the AICPA and NASBA Over the Future of Accounting Education

Today, the AICPA and NASBA unveiled their highly anticipated CPA Evolution Model Curriculum — CPAEMC if you’re nasty — which the Journal of Accountancy describes as “a recommended blueprint for an accounting program designed to help educators prepare graduates for the changing demands of the CPA profession.” Times they are a-changin’, kids, so much so that the historically reactive (as opposed to proactive) accounting profession is scrambling to make itself future-ready. The eagerness on the part of the profession to change, well, at all is a strong signal that The Powers That Be are scared there won’t even be much of a profession left if accountants don’t evolve with the times. And by “times” I of course mean the dystopian hellscape tech-heavy world in which we currently reside.

The new version of the CPA exam based on the three core competencies of the CPA Evolution model is expected to roll out in 2024, which means today’s accounting students need to be prepared for it because three years isn’t that far away. Hence the CPAEMC and the months-long effort to rehaul accounting education to ensure future CPAs aren’t bumbling around with technology like your Boomer uncle trying to figure out how to set the time on his oven.

This is all good, right? Who could possibly have an issue with this monumental effort to transform accounting education for the greater good of the entire profession? Well, turns out someone does. The IMA.

In a June 9 press release, the Institute of Management Accountants lashed out at the CPA Evolution model for its noticeable lack of management accounting content. In other words, they’re pissed they got left out:

In light of proposed changes from AICPA and NASBA to the curricula for accounting majors that pursue a CPA track (the CPA Evolution model), IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) has provided feedback regarding the proposal in a new IMA Briefing.

Authored by Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CSCA, IMA vice president of research and policy and professor-in-residence; and Roopa Venkatesh, Ph.D., CMA, chair of IMA’s Committee of Academic Relations, the Briefing expresses IMA’s concerns regarding the negative impact dropping managerial/cost accounting from the required curriculum for CPAs proposed in the CPA Evolution model will have on the ability of the accounting profession to protect the public and serve the public interest.

“The challenges that CPAs will have to answer important cost-based questions will only increase as technology transforms business models and the CPA profession,” wrote Lawson and Venkatesh in the Briefing. “The ability of the CPA to serve as a trusted business advisor must include an effective grasp of cost systems, behavior, and causality, which can only be most directly gained in management accounting courses.”

They go on to suggest that the AICPA and NASBA are literally killing management accounting, in a world where management accounting does just fine scaring off accounting students on its own. This, says the IMA, is a terrible idea and will only end in disaster:

“In this time of uncertainty and lower enrollments, many academic accounting departments are facing faculty retirements, hiring freezes, and budget cuts. The lack of managerial accounting topics required for the CPA exam can dangerously serve as a reason to further eliminate the managerial accounting offerings in introductory managerial, intermediate cost, and advanced managerial/cost courses,” the authors continued.

The Briefing also states that students who do not learn about management accounting will not be set up for long-term success. The authors note that most students that enter public accounting eventually leave their firms to work in management accounting and corporate finance so the skills learned in management accounting courses will be beneficial to the students’ careers.

The IMA is asking for the AICPA and NASBA to renounce this huge oversight and “publicly commit to the importance of management accounting curricula.” We expect this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing about certain segments feeling some kind of way about the future of accounting education.

IMA Briefing: Concerns for the CPA Evolution Model [Institute of Management Accountants]
CPA Evolution Model Curriculum [This Way to CPA]