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Institute for Management Accountants (IMA)

An organization that provides finance and accounting professionals with education and development opportunities

Written by

CFI Team

Published April 7, 2023

Updated June 28, 2023

What is the Institute for Management Accountants (IMA)?

The Institute for Management Accountants (IMA) is an organization that provides finance and accounting professionals with education and development opportunities. The organization strives to help certify, connect, develop, and support the world’s best accountants and finance professionals.

The IMA is best known for the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation. It also supplies an active professional network, well-respected journals and newsletters, and other resources to its members.

The Institute for Management Accountants is a global association with finance and accounting professionals across the world. It lists members working across various industries for non-profits, private companies, public companies, and academic institutions. The IMA comprises over 125,000 members across 150 countries and more than 300 professional and student chapters.

The Institute for Management Accountants’ vision is to align their organization with five core values: respect for the individual, passion for serving members, highest standards of integrity and trust, innovation and continuous improvement, and teaming to achieve.

The organization strives to uphold all of these values and practices at the business community’s highest ethical standards. Their values also include a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion to foster healthy and mutual respect between individuals.

Membership Benefits History

The Institute for Management Accountants came into existence a little over a century ago. Founded in 1919 in Buffalo, N.Y., the IMA was first known as the National Association for Cost Accountants (NACA) to help cultivate cost accounting knowledge and understand their management roles.

In 1957, its name changed to the National Association of Accountants (NAA). By 1991, the association would change its name to what it is known as today, the Institute for Management Accountants (IMA).

The organization’s grown outside of the U.S. and into a worldwide association of professionals. There are regional offices in China, Middle East/Africa, India, Europe, Southeast Asia, and a global office in the United States. A more detailed breakdown of the IMA timeline and growth can be found on their website.

Service Offerings

IMA’s two main certificates are the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) and the CSCA (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis), a secondary building block after achieving the CMA designation.

The requirements for the CMA are as follows:

Candidates must be an active IMA member and successfully complete parts 1 and 2 of the CMA Exam;

Possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university;

Uphold the IMA’s statement of ethical professional practice; and

Obtain two continuous years of professional experience in financial management or management accounting.

The CSCA is a continuation of the CMA designation to help expand the strategic knowledge and planning processes, helping complement the CMA learnings.

Based on an IMA survey, members found that they earn, on average, almost $27,000 more in total compensation compared to non-CMAs. At the end of the day, the CMA takes a significant amount of commitment and monetary investment. However, it can provide an excellent return professionally once achieved. 

What is a Management Accountant?

Management accountants track a company’s income and expenses and often take on significant responsibility and decision-making authority. Some responsibilities include helping manage and analyze investment risk, strategic planning, budgeting, keeping general accounting records, and other decision-making duties.

Management accountants prepare data internally for a company to help make educated decisions to boost net income. This is what separates a management accountant from a financial accountant or public accountant.

Often, management accountants will oversee a team of other accountants who take care of more basic accounting tasks. A good management accountant will find trends and areas of growth/improvement for their firm regarding its risk, financing, and other areas of the company. Some companies encourage their accountants to pursue the CMA as it provides their employees with more detailed accounting knowledge and recognition.

The Institute of Management Accountants caters towards management accountants, as the name states, but is not limited to purely that profession.


The Institute for Management Accountants is a top-rated association for accounting and business professionals. It provides prestigious designations to the members that choose to pursue them and many other benefits, including career support, a vast professional network, research sources, and much more. Founded in 1919, IMA is known to uphold a high ethical standard and provide extensive value to its members.

Additional Resources

CFI offers the Certified Banking & Credit Analyst (CBCA)® certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and developing your knowledge base, please explore the additional relevant resources below:

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Accountants Vs. Bookkeepers: What’S The Difference?

The titles “accountant” and “bookkeeper” are often used interchangeably in business, so many confuse the roles or assume they are the same thing. You may be surprised to learn of the significant differences between an accountant and a bookkeeper, and the roles they perform.

The distinction is important because of one glaring difference between bookkeepers and accountants: cost. Accountants typically charge a much higher hourly rate than bookkeepers.

Consequently, relegating basic bookkeeping tasks to an accountant will leave you overpaying for financial services.

Bottom Line

Accountants charge much more than bookkeepers, so you risk overpaying for basic financial tasks.

Bookkeepers vs. accountants: What’s the difference?

A bookkeeper is an administrative professional who follows a specific set of procedures or tasks related to the day-to-day financial management of a business. While the job may require specific skills, software knowledge, and training, becoming a bookkeeper requires no formal education or certification.

However, bookkeepers typically take a bookkeeping course or certification program to stay competitive in the field. For example, the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers offers a licensing program for industry professionals who wish to expand their expertise in the field.

An accountant is a more specialized financial professional who handles higher-level financial structuring and analysis for a business. Becoming an accountant requires a four-year college degree in accounting or finance, or in business administration with additional specialized training.

Also critical is the distinction of a certified public accountant – or CPA – which is a higher standard accounting professional who has completed sufficient training to pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. This certification ensures that all CPAs operate according to standardized methods and ethical requirements. CPA exams are rigorous, consisting of four different tests administered over a four-hour period. The minimum score to pass the CPA examination is 75, according to the American Institute of CPAs.

While some accounting firms – or accounting departments within large companies – may comprise both certified and non-certified accountants, it is essential that at least one CPA holds the ultimate responsibility to manage your company’s finances. [Read related article: How to Hire the Right Accountant for Your Business]

To help you match the right task with the right professional for your business, let’s break down the tasks most commonly assigned to bookkeepers and accountants, respectively.

Did You Know?

CPAs need to pass a rigorous four-hour exam in order to be certified.

Editor’s note: Need a bookkeeping or accounting service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

Common bookkeeping tasks

With proper standards and procedures in place, a trained bookkeeper can manage these tasks for your firm: 

Prepare and send invoices.

Record payments from customers.

Monitor late payments and send payment reminders.

Record, process, and pay invoices from suppliers.

Monitor and record inventory changes.

Process petty cash transactions.

Categorize credit card and other daily expenses.

Process payroll.

Depending on how often your company requires these tasks to be completed, and the size of your business, you might choose to complete them yourself, assign them to an existing employee, contract with a third-party bookkeeping service, or hire a full-time bookkeeper. Some accounting firms also offer bookkeeping services at a separate rate.

Specialized responsibilities for accountants

This higher-level, more specialized tasks should be handled by a CPA (or by noncertified accountants with the careful oversight of a CPA):

Create and manage the chart of accounts.

Accrue and defer revenue and expenses.

Design and maintain financial statements.

Build financial forecasts.

Create a budget and compare it to actual expenses.

Generate custom financial reports to address specific issues.

Determine estimated taxes and prepare tax documents.

Monitor issues related to financial and tax compliance.

Identify potential tax write-offs or other profit-maximizing opportunities.

Because these important tasks tend to be relatively infrequent, most small and midsize businesses work with an outside CPA or accounting firm on a contract basis to meet their accounting needs.

How hiring a bookkeeper will save you money 

Too often, small businesses tend to leave bookkeeping tasks undone or poorly completed, forcing the company’s CPA to complete these tasks before they can handle higher-level accounting duties. In fact, this issue is so widespread that many accounting firms maintain in-house bookkeepers to handle related projects.

Particularly if you pay your accountant on an hourly basis, this can mean spending a mint on administrative tasks that could be completed at a much lower cost.

To reduce spending while maximizing the effectiveness of your financial team, work with both a quality bookkeeper and a certified public accountant. Ensure they communicate regularly and are using the same standardized methods and best practices. Understanding and properly delegating these roles will ultimately improve your bottom line.

Software alternatives to hiring a bookkeeper or accountant

If you’d rather not hire a bookkeeper or an accountant, you do have another option for managing your company’s finances: choosing a software provider. Let’s look at the benefits of choosing software to handle your firm’s bookkeeping and accounting tasks, rather than hiring an additional contractor or employee.

Lower costs

If you decide to hire a bookkeeper or accountant, you’ll likely need to purchase their preferred software and cover their individual rates. With that in mind, choosing good accounting software can eliminate the need for a bookkeeper or accountant, saving you money in the long run. A few popular bookkeeping tools are Zoho Books, FreshBooks, Xero, and Kashoo. 

Here’s an overview of what each program has to offer:

SoftwareStarting costMobile appProConZoho Books$15 per monthYesRecurring report generationLimited transactionsFreshBooks$4.50 per monthYesEasy invoice customizationNo inventory trackingXero$9 per monthYesEasy, interactive dashboard with step-by-step guidesDifficult invoice customizationKashoo$29.95 per monthYesUnlimited number of usersNo project time tracking

Lower risks

Opting to use software rather than hiring an accountant or bookkeeper is also a good way to minimize business risks. The more external sources that have access to important data, such as your business finances, the higher the risk of a data breach. Practicing due diligence during the hiring process is always a great way to minimize risks, but sticking to software can also ease your mind when it comes to your business information’s security. 


Simply put, human error is always a possibility, even if you’ve hired an expert accountant or bookkeeper. Accounting software, however, eliminates the risk of small, costly errors that can impact your regulatory compliance. Compliance errors can cause irreparable damage to any brand, not to mention the potential IRS fines. Some accounting software providers offer to handle any issues that arise as a result of accounting errors, even offering to provide IRS representation and cover fines.  

Meredith Wood contributed to the writing and research in this article.

Beyond Password Management: Biometric Authentication For Enterprise

With the elevated role of mobile in today’s business workflows, enterprises can no longer depend entirely on passwords to protect their employees’ corporate or personal devices.

Password management is a growing problem. The average person today has 27 discrete online log-ins, but in many cases they use just a few passwords across all their accounts. As many as 37 percent of people say they forget a password at least once a week. Even more concerning: some of the most popular passwords used in 2023 included “123456” and the word “password” itself.

In the workplace, employees today are expected to manage a growing number of IDs and passwords too – many of which provide access to confidential corporate or customer data. Poor password practices and the rise in identity theft have forced IT departments to enact stricter password rules, further exacerbating the password management problem for employees.

Fortunately, biometric authentication is changing the mobile security paradigm, offering a way for enterprises to defend corporate data against current and emerging threats. Biometrics take the burden off the employee; if their fingerprint or iris is their password, it will inherently be unique and they should have no issues remembering it. The technology is available today, but enterprises will need to take proactive steps over the next several years to ensure they are effectively leveraging biometric authentication in their security architecture.

Password Practices

Password management in business still lacks a level of standardization across industries, even with so many reports of hacking, malware and ransomware attacks across businesses and government.

Organizations might have unofficial password management standards, or none at all, often leaving passwords at the mercy of human error. Some users may store their passwords in a paper notebook, an unencrypted file or their web browser, according to a report from SANS Institute. Enterprises dependent on software-as-a-service applications offer the option for users to set two-factor authentication, but it doesn’t mean every organization is mandating employees to use it.

An Alternative to Password Management

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As a mobile device manufacturer, Samsung has sought to address this problem in a couple of ways. First, we’ve added secure biometric authentication features to many of our devices and strived to make them as easy as possible to use. The new Samsung Galaxy S8 takes this to the next level, offering a choice of fingerprint or iris scanning technology for secure biometric authentication.

Second, we’ve introduced Samsung Pass, a management tool that allows you to use your biometrics to replace passwords in your accounts (specifically when using the Samsung web-browser). This technology integration aims to balance security and convenience on both personal and work devices, helping consumers to take charge of their digital lives.

Our focus in the coming months is on building out the Samsung Pass ecosystem by allowing its integration into key consumer-facing applications and services. Samsung is working with many of the top banks, for instance, to integrate Samsung Pass into their services, making mobile banking more secure and simple.

What Does Samsung Pass Mean for the Enterprise?

For the enterprise, our aim with Samsung Pass is to provide customers with a simple, secure and integrated biometric authentication platform to securely manage their employees’ access to corporate data and systems.

This will be of particular interest to customers in healthcare, financial services and government, where security and compliance are always a top concern.

We are putting a lot of thinking and hard work into making Samsung Pass enterprise-ready, including allowing multi-modalities depending on the customer’s needs, and planning integration into our Knox Workspace data separation solution.

Emergence of Iris Scanning Technology

Iris scanning, in combination with Samsung Pass, offers a powerful authentication solution for the enterprise. While there are reports of fake fingerprints fooling fingerprint scanners, there’s much less threat of a fake iris because each part of the human eyeball (iris, pupil and sclera) has different IR reflection rates. A cybercriminal can’t use a picture or artificial eye, because neither has reflection rate differences.

Iris scans stored on the device are digitized and saved in Knox TrustZone as an encryption code. Our support for TrustZone and public key cryptography ensures device and server-level security and provides a strong foundation for consumer or enterprise-secured services involving sensitive data.

With all the threats facing mobile users today, password management is no longer sufficient. Biometric authentication is a must for enterprises who want to protect their employees and their data from current and emerging security threats.

Teachers Become Students As Bu Hosts Institute To Address Adolescent Well

Teachers Become Students as BU Hosts Institute to Address Adolescent Well-Being

Poet laureate Robert Pinsky speaks to a room full of educators as part of a National Endowment of the Humanities-funded summer institute July 13 at COM. The program will run from July 10-22 and will focus on adolescent friendships as viewed through popular media such as books, TV, and film. Photo by Cydney Scott


Teachers Become Students as BU Hosts Institute to Address Adolescent Well-Being Codirectors Karen Harris and Stephan Ellenwood say the program is helping teachers address “a major concern”

All eyes have been on students since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic back in the spring of 2023, as reports from across the country outline the decline in emotional well-being in school-age children. 

“It’s harder for [students] to make new friends now,” says Chris Watkins, who teaches high school English in Chattanooga, Tenn. “They’ve been out of practice with actual socialization and they seem to struggle, or be reluctant.”

Photo courtesy of Karen Harris

For educators like Karen Harris (Wheelock’92), it didn’t take a pandemic to understand that students need more institutional support when it comes to their inner lives—which she made her mission as an English teacher at Brookline High School’s School Within a School program. Her class, Friendship and Literature, examined the bonds young people have with one another by looking at texts such as The Great Gatsby and Toni Morrison’s Sula. She says the curriculum is designed to give students tools to unlock their own emotional languages.

“We had one whole block conversation about boys crying, and how they felt they weren’t allowed to cry except in these very specific ‘bro’ moments,” Harris says. “And we were able to unpack it and look at why that might be.”

The program’s growing popularity among students showed Harris she was onto something; after leaving her teaching position in 2023 to write full-time—and witnessing the pandemic’s havoc on her own high school–aged children—she felt the urgency to pass on what she’d developed with colleagues at BU and in Brookline High School.

In 2023, Harris was awarded $168,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to hold a summer institute at BU, which she titled, Friendship and Identity in Literature, Film, and Adolescence. Harris partnered up with Stephan Ellenwood, a Wheelock associate professor emeritus and, in her words, a “mentor-slash-pseudo-dad,” to codirect the program.

“In fleshing out all my narrative and my rationale for the application, I came to believe even more and more in this class,” Harris says.

On July 10, 25 high school English teachers, including Tennessee’s Watkins, arrived at BU to attend the two-week institute. The attendees, who lived on campus for the duration of the program, comprised a wide range of English teachers—from first-year educators to 25-year veterans at public, private, and charter schools around the country.

“You really couldn’t ask for a more diverse group,” says Alexandra Patterson, a program attendee from Mercersburg, Pa.

With a curriculum ranging from Sula to Aristotle, and a roster of visiting lecturers, such as Niobe Way (author of Deep Secrets) and Lashon Daley (author of Black Girl Lit), the program was, according to Ellenwood, a testament to Harris’ ingenuity.

“Karen’s teaching strategies are based on stories that provide students with a vocabulary for creating and maintaining important relationships and friendships,” he says. “She has tapped into a major concern among adolescents.”

Attending teachers quickly learned that the program wasn’t designed to impact just students—they benefited, as well. For some, it was the first time they’d had any meaningful professional development since before the pandemic, or the ability to discuss texts and share skills in person.

“So much professional development was happening online and it’s a lot more lecture based,” says Patterson. “It’s a lot more like ‘Here’s some resources,’ and much less collaboration and conversation. Here we’re getting ideas from each other and collaboration, and that’s what we value right now.”

Educators Alexandra Patterson, from left, Michele Hettinger, and Stella Lehane during a National Endowment of the Humanities-funded summer institute July 13 at COM. The program will run from July 10-22 and will focus on adolescent friendships as viewed through popular media such as books, TV, and film. Photo by Cydney Scott

For others, it was healing to step out of the role of educator and be a student again. “Things like this [institute] are really powerful, because we get to be students for a couple of weeks,” says Lindsey Thompson of Kansas City, Mo. “We get to have the same experience that we want our students to have.”

On July 13, former US poet laureate Robert Pinsky, a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and College of Arts & Sciences professor of English, visited the institute. When it came to teaching emotional literacy to students, his message was simple: “You don’t start out with what it means—you start out with how it feels.”

He told an anecdote about his grandson, with whom he shared the poems of Wallace Stevens while the young man was in COVID quarantine. Pinsky noted that his grandson initially struggled to grasp the poem, “The Pleasures of Merely Circulating,” but patience, encouragement, and the power of their bond, he says, “made a Wallace Stevens fan” out of him.

Harris says the institute was constructed so that visiting speakers like Pinsky could provide a theoretical framework for “friendship studies,” while her role was to help guide the curriculum model into practice.

“I’m not a friendship expert, per se—that’s why I’m having these scholars come,” she says. “But I know how to design courses. I’m giving [attendees] the primer, and lots of research that I’ve read, curating and sharing stuff with them, in the hopes that they’ll dig into what makes sense for them.”

Early in the program, the attendees assembled into small teams with the objective of designing a curriculum around friendship and literature. On the program’s final day, the teams presented them to their peers. Each shared curricular goals and suggested reading materials and facilitated a group activity, again allowing the participating teachers to see things through their students’ eyes.

According to Harris, these conversations were some of the most vital during their short time together:

“You can’t get away from it, especially in the humanities: you’re the leading curriculum,” she says. “I don’t want teachers to forget that they are part of the curriculum.”

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Blue Dot Helps Easily Integrate Data For Fleet Management Solutions

Based in Denver, Colorado, Blue Dot is an enterprise mobile software company that drives digital transformation for transportation, trucking and distribution organizations. Since 1988, the company has delivered innovative mobile technology, products and apps along with a cloud-based IoT platform and strategy to help increase the efficiency and productivity of drivers, driver managers and other key employees who manage fleet operations.

Blue Dot works with organizations ranging from 30 vehicles all the way up to 17,000+ trucks and provides off-the-shelf products with robust configuration capabilities for these customers. This allows each fleet organization and/or business unit to have their own unique set of business requirements that reflect how they run their fleet operations.

In addition to the focus on productivity, Blue Dot provides visibility into critical operational metrics for senior executives overseeing key areas of their fleet operations. As fleets address the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate, there is a spotlight on improving technology infrastructure and gaining better data analytics and business intelligence throughout the industry.

Making Life Easier for Drivers

MilesAhead DRIVE is available as an out-of-the-box product, but many fleet organizations desire some degree of flexibility to reflect their unique operating practices. “The driver app workflow can be fully configured and scaled up or down to meet the unique needs of each customer, no matter the size of the fleet organization we’re partnering with,” says Gary Blohm, co-founder of Blue Dot.

With a sophisticated cloud-based infrastructure and APIs, MilesAhead DRIVE can interact and push or pull data to and from any source system. If a fleet has invested in proprietary in-cab software and hardware, it can continue to leverage those systems and assets while deploying a much more modern driver experience. MilesAhead DRIVE is capable of working for a fleet with a mix of telematics and HOS (hours of service) systems, ensuring that the driver experience and workflows stay the same for each and every driver.

The Future of Fleet Management

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To ensure project success, customer engagement starts with Blue Dot’s standard onsite Mobile Needs Assessment (MNA). The MNA packages on-site discovery, requirements definition, application design mockups and deliverable preparation into a single consulting document.

Throughout the project, drivers and driver managers are consulted to ensure the solution workflows reflect and properly realize the goals and objectives. If changes are required, Blue Dot uses an agile methodology to ensure that adjustments can be incorporated within an iterative, bi-weekly basis.

“Providing functional software to customers as quickly as possible throughout the implementation phase of the project is paramount. Continued and ongoing participation of the customer and applying the solution to real-world scenarios is critical to the overall project success,” Blohm says.

Scalable Approach

Larger, interstate fleets may find the “OTR (Over The Road)” configuration of MilesAhead DRIVE a better fit. This configuration includes all of the above functionality along with integrated safety and compliance (HOS and DVIR) features and specialized workflows for Lumpers, Bump to Dock, Scales and many more. As with any MilesAhead DRIVE configuration, this can also be enhanced or evolved as needed.

“We passionately believe our customers should have the option to leverage their initial investment and evolve that into a second or third project. We’re providing them the ability to grow their solution beyond what is originally delivered, and we feel that truly defines and supports a powerful longer-term ROI story,” says Blohm.

As the transportation and trucking industry embraces and extends digital transformation and technology such as MilesAhead, it will find new efficiencies and improve the utilization of assets. This will lead to increased profit margins.

Saving Time With Technology

Historical in-cab telematics systems are inflexible and do not typically communicate with third-party apps. However, with Blue Dot and MilesAhead, fleet organizations can have multiple telematics systems or choose to transition from one system to another without impeding the use of the MilesAhead DRIVE app. MilesAhead can also integrate with almost any back office system, including cloud-based systems or internal servers.

Coupled with modern mobile devices like Samsung smartphones and tablets, such as the Tab E and Tab A tablets and Galaxy S7, S8 and Note5, drivers have access to all of information they need within a single interface, rather than switching between apps and devices. “It’s a major time-saver for the driver,” Blohm says.

An Integrated Workflow

As fleets adopt ELDs to track hours of service, that information can be integrated into the fleet management workflow through Blue Dot’s MilesAhead Interface SDK. “We’re excited about ELD, it’s great for companies that haven’t adapted technologies for their drivers yet; it gets them comfortable and familiar with driver-centric technology,” Blohm says. “Then, MilesAhead DRIVE brings data and functionality from many sources together and merges it — including hours of service — into DRIVE’s unified driver experience.”

Blue Dot’s MilesAhead solutions help fleets get a handle on data and analytics challenges and future-proof the organization’s technology foundation to optimize operations.

“Trucking organizations are realizing that MilesAhead is very cost effective because it expands profit margins by making drivers more productive,” Blohm says.

Ensure your business is on the cutting edge of technology by checking out our full line of transportation solutions.

Touchbistro: Restaurant Management Pos System

With TouchBistro, we now can manage the entire restaurant, all from an iPad. We love the ease of use, intuitiveness, and flexibility. I would recommend other restaurants go with TouchBistro from the start – get the POS designed for restaurants that will help manage your venue, serve your customers faster and better, and decrease staff errors.

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Nick Orlov

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