CPE for CMAs: How Is It Acquired?

Article excerpt

Continuing professional education (CPE), the cornerstone of a competent professional, is the key to maintaining professional competence in a rapidly changing world. Many professional associations, including doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, dietitians, and accountants, now require their members to complete some minimum number of approved CPE hours each year. Through the mechanism of CPE, practitioners have the opportunity to update their technical competence by attending seminars, competing correspondence courses, enrolling in university classes, and teaching.

As Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) increasingly come under attack by the judiciary and in Congressional hearings, the need for CPE increases. Currently, neither the Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) nor the Certified Internal Auditors (CIAs) have become targets for the courts or Congressional hearings; however, when the integrity and professionalism of one segment of the accounting profession is attacked, all accountants suffer.

Three professional accounting certifications, the CPA, CIA, and CMA, now require CPE. The licensing and regulating of CPE requirements for CPAs are the responsibility of each state. Currently most states require CPE; however, requirements are not uniform. On the other hand, both CMAs and CIAs have national organizations that establish CPE requirements and monitor compliance. The Institute of Certified Management Accountants (CMA) establishes CPE requirements and monitors compliance with CMAs required to complete a minimum of 90 hours of CPE during each three year period.

This study reports on the attitudes of CMAs toward CPE requirements and the methods used by CMAs to fulfill CPE requirements. In addition, it suggests methods the ICMA might use to increase CMA participation in CPE and compares and contrasts the CPE activities of individuals who are CMAs with the activities of those CMAs who are also CPAs. Finally, the paper describes opportunities for academicians and other to provide a service to the profession by offering professional education courses tailored to the CMAs' needs.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

This research project was conducted by mailing a questionnaire to a random sample of 1000 CMAs. A second questionnaire was mailed to all CMAs failing to respond to the first request. Usable responses were received from 563 CMAs, yielding a response rate of 56.3%.

FIRM DEMOGRAPHICS

To assess the environment in which CMAs work, several demographic questions were asked. These questions helped assess the logistics involved in the development and delivery of CPE courses. The largest number of respondents (42.7%) described their firms as manufacturing organizations. The second largest number (16.2%) indicated they were employed in educational organizations (see Table 1).

TABLE 1

TYPE OF BUSINESS SURVEYED

Manufacturing         42.7%
Education             16.2
Service               15.3
Public Accounting     11.6
Financial              5.6
Retail                 3.6
Wholesale              3.2
Government             1.8

One description of firm size provided by respondents was the number of accountants employed by the firm. The largest response category was 1-10 accountants (39.4%), followed by 11-50 accountants (25.6%) (see Table 2).

TABLE 2

NUMBER OF ACCOUNTANTS EMPLOYED

Number of Accountants     Percentage
      1 - 10                 39.4
     11 - 50                 25.6
     51 - 100                 8.0
    101 - 500                13.5
    501 - 1,000               4.2
    over 1,000                9.3

When respondents were asked the number of persons in the organization who held the CMA certificate, responses ranged from 1 to more than 50. The largest response rate was that of 1 (52.4%), followed by 2-5 (23.7%) (see Table 3).

TABLE 3

NUMBER OF CMAS IN THE FIRM

Number of CMAs     Percentage
     1                52. …