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Podcast: Diving deep into management accounting

If you ask most people outside of our profession what an accountant does — not all, but most people — they’ll probably say “taxes,” or “auditing,” or some variation on the tasks of people who work in public accounting.

They’re missing about half of the profession, of course. You’ve got educators, you’ve got accountants who work for non-profits and governments, and you’ve got those who work in business and industry, which is arguably the largest segment of the profession. That’s why, today, we’re diving deep into the world of management accounting.

Joining us this week is Jeff Thomson, president and CEO of the Institute of Management Accountants. They’re doing gangbusters over there at IMA. At a time when many associations are struggling to attract new members, the IMA has become one of the fastest-growing accounting associations in the world. Last year, it crossed the 100,000-member mark for the first time in its history.

The issues that impact management accountants and others on the business and industry side are different, in many ways, from those that impact public accounting, but there are many similarities as well. We discuss the similarities and differences, and more importantly, the challenges that management accountants are facing these days – as well as the pretty significant opportunities that those challenges provide at the same time.

In this conversation, we cover:

The gender pay gap and other industry issues
The IMA released a report that focuses on the so-called gender pay gap among management accountants, and it’s finding evidence that the gap is closing. The median total pay for women in 2018 was 88 percent of what men earned, which is up from 85 percent in 2017.

“There appears to be reason for hope that the gender pay gap among this group of finance professionals will in time narrow much further,” David McCann writes on CFO.com. “That’s because the younger that management accountants are today, the narrower the gap. In the 20-29 age group, according to the IMA, women earned a median 97 percent of what their male counterparts did. At the other end of the age spectrum, 50 and older, the figure was just 80 percent.”

“Worldwide, there was no compensation gap,” McCann goes on to say. “IMA surveyed 5,208 of its members globally (including the U.S. participants), and at the median women earned 100 percent of what men did.

“In fact,” McCann wrote, “in the global survey, women earned significantly more in the 20-29 age group, where their median total pay was 120 percent of men’s. For ages 30-39 and 40-49, women made 98 percent and 99 percent, respectively, of what men did. Only in the 50-and-over group did women have a significant disadvantage (86 percent of men’s pay).”

So there’s some good news on the gender pay gap, especially worldwide. Those are some eye-opening numbers.

This is speculation, but that may be at least partially due to the fact that management accountants and their colleagues in business and industry are trying to play a much more strategic role in their organizations — although they’re running into some obstacles along the way.

EY released a report recently called “The DNA of the CFO,” which found the top challenge that finance and accounting professionals face these days is the fact that increasing operational responsibilities are preventing them from taking on a more strategic focus. They recognize the need to become more strategic partners in their organizations, but they can’t quite get there due to a number of factors, like a lack of the necessary skills in the finance team, the time they spend on compliance and controls, and other increasing operational responsibilities.

So it sounds like management accountants are dealing with a lot of the same issues the rest of the profession is, which is why this was a great time to talk with Jeff about what he’s hearing from his members at the IMA.

Celebrating 100 years of the IMA
As Jeff says in the episode, the IMA is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year at its annual conference and expo, which will be held in June 2019 in San Diego.

The agenda features futurist and bestselling author Mike Walsh; Matthew Lun, a former Pixar animator; and Amy Vetter, who we’ve spoken to on this podcast before. Jeff Thomson will also be there, of course, as will Tom Hood. And Jay Leno – yes, that Jay Leno – will be keynoting. Don’t miss this big centennial celebration.

You can get all the details at IMAconference.org.

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