DUBAI-IMA (Institute of Management Accountants), one of the world’s leading associations representing the management accounting profession, highlighted the urgent need to tackle the Middle East’s financial competency gap, which is acting as a brake on the region’s economic development.
Speaking during a visit to the Middle East, Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE, IMA’s president and CEO, said there is a growing gap between the demands of the business world and the financial skills and education levels of the workforce. This gap needs to be addressed through certification and a seamless transition between education and on-the-job duties.
Thomson said: “The stature of the accounting and finance profession has grown tremendously in the Middle East in recent years but there is still a shortfall in the number of people able to serve the increasingly complex financial requirements of local business. An increased emphasis on professional certifications, including the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant)is certainly one way to narrow the gap, while giving finance professionals greater prominence in the decision making process of businesses is another.”
Thomson continued: “Given the changing role of the CFO, which is seeing financial officers take a more strategic role in leading businesses, the next generation of CFOs is something we need to start investing in across the MENA region, as well as the rest of the world. What IMA aims to do is provide finance professionals with the right training and support to fulfil this evolving role.”
Thomson’s recent visit to the region focussed on Saudi Arabia, where he met senior officials including H.H. Prince Jalawi bin Abdulaziz bin Masaad, Deputy Governor of Eastern Province, as well as senior representatives from the Kingdom’s education industry such as Dr. Salim Al Malik, General Director of International Affairs at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Higher Education. Thomson also took part in two CFO roundtable sessions hosted by Rami Al Turki, CEO of Khalid Ali Alturki & Sons Company, and Abdulaziz Al- Shubaibi, Partner at Ernst and Young Khobar, to discuss the evolving role of the CFO. Whilst in the UAE, Thomson delivered the keynote address at the 6th Annual IMA CFO Forum, focussing on the growing skills gap in the industry and how to solve this issue. In addition to this, he visited IMA’s local chapter in Kuwait.
IMA’s Middle East/Africa region, headquartered in Dubai, has grown rapidly since it was established in 2008. Today, the region boasts more than 11,000 members, and 2000 CMA holders.