Management accountants analyze and report on financial information to help companies make operating decisions. If you choose this career, you may go on to study for the Institute of Management Accountants' certified management accountant, or CMA, certification. This comes with some responsibilities, as you're expected to follow the IMA's code of conduct, or statement of ethical professional practice. Part of your certification exam covers professional ethics, and you must also complete at least two hours of continuing education in an ethics area each year to remain a CMA.
Principles and Standards
The IMA's statement of ethical professional practice has four principles: honesty, fairness, objectivity and responsibility. To maintain these principles, you'll follow four standards in your everyday life as a management accountant. These are competence, confidentiality, integrity and credibility. According to the IMA, failing to work to these standards may result in disciplinary action, so it's important to get these right.
Your information, analysis and recommendations can have a big influence on the financial decisions your company takes. You need to be able to give your employer the right guidance and advice to enable it to make the right decisions for the future. According to the IMA's statement, you'll keep your skills and experience up to speed by committing to ongoing professional development. You must also ensure that your work meets all applicable laws, regulations and standards.
As a management accountant, you're likely to work with confidential and potentially sensitive business data or information that may not be in the public domain. You should keep all information confidential, unless you're told you can share it or have a legal requirement to do so. It's also part of your job to make sure that other people understand what they can and cannot do with this information, and you shouldn't use it to gain an illegal or unethical advantage.
As a CMA, you should always work to ethical standards and represent your profession with integrity. This includes monitoring the integrity of decisions your company may take based on your work. In some scenarios, you may come across an existing or potential conflict of interest. You must recognize this as a possible issue, managing existing conflicts and trying not to create new ones. If you spot a potential conflict, you must ensure that all involved parties are aware of it.
You may have a direct influence on how your company makes business-critical decisions, and it's important that you, and the information you provide, are credible. When you give information, you should present it objectively. You can't just produce a report or data and use it to influence other people to follow your recommendations. It's also part of your job to make sure that they understand background information that might influence the decisions they take. This includes any problems you had getting information.
Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.