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Study Zone

The future of finance

PQ caught up with CIMA’s Noel Tagoe to see how the latest syllabus review is going

July 2017

Traditionally, CIMA carries out a major syllabus review every five years. That time has come around again, so it is researching ‘what employers want’ as we speak.
However, chatting to the man in charge of the review, Dr Noel Tagoe, it quickly becomes clear that CIMA may need to move quicker in today’s every-changing, inter-connected world.
Work on the new syllabus started back in January and the research is expected to be completed by the end of January 2018. We can, in normal circumstances, expect the unveiling of a new syllabus by 2019. This would coincide nicely with CIMA celebrating its centenary.
However, at the forefront of Tagoe’s mind is ‘The Future of the Professions’, a book by Richard and Daniel Susskind. The father and son have looked at how technology is transforming the work of professions, and accountants as well as teachers are on their ‘extinction list’.
So its Tagoe’s job to look at the future of finance and create a qualification that will give management accountants the tools and techniques they will need to do their job. Where, for example, will he put analytical thinking into the syllabus? It’s going to be no mean feat.
It is fair to say that the changes CIMA unveiled in its 2015 syllabus surprised many. It jumped heart and soul into CBEs and it means it is ahead of trend. The case study at each level was also ground-breaking. OK, the operational level could do with some more numbers, but we understand CIMA is aiming to fix this soon.
How will CIMA incorporate AI, automation, big data and analytics into the syllabus? There is also the little matter of intangibles to take on board, too! Tagoe doesn’t think accountants will become data scientists, but they will need to be given the skills to present and interpret data.
The big question is this: once CIMA has its research, how long will it wait to make changes? Employers will want them to move quickly, but Tagoe understands he has to give students enough time to prepare for any changes and he will timetable everything around this.
There are going to be some serious conversations this summer and Tagoe admits CIMA might not be able to wait until 2019 to make the changes. There might have to be a bold transformation in thinking, too, about what an accountant is and what they do.
Tagoe stressed he has to be clear about the skills the future accountant needs to bring to the table, but he stressed that no matter what they will still need to understand what a credit and a debit is!
• Noel Tagoe is executive vice president, academics – management accounting at the AICPA. CIMA and the American Institute of CPAs make up the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

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