Each year on May 6, those of us in the finance profession recognize management accountants across the globe. This International Management Accounting Day is especially poignant, coming after one of the most disruptive and challenging years for businesses in modern history, and we should all take the time to appreciate the hard work, dedication and tenacity of those prevailing through the pandemic. Management accountants are risk managers, budgeters, strategists and decision-makers who are valued by their companies during uncertain times.

The crucial role of management accountants has not changed, but the global talent pool from which companies recruit them has undergone an immense transformation over the past year. Thanks to mass remote work, which will likely continue in some form once the pandemic is over, the job market is no longer local, regional or even national. With companies announcing office closures and hiring remote employees, talent no longer has borders. Eliminating geographic boundaries increases the number of applicants with whom candidates are competing, so it’s important they find ways to compellingly distinguish themselves. As a result, here is what should be top of mind for all management accountants today.

Prioritizing globally recognized certifications

Accountants with globally recognized educational achievements will stand out among the rest. For nearly 50 years, the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) certification, a U.S.-based globally recognized certification offered by the Institute of Management Accountants, has been the global benchmark for the profession. It’s designed to meet the needs of a rapidly changing business environment. Top employers such as 3M, AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Verizon and Xerox employ and promote CMAs. From Fortune 500 companies to small and medium-sized businesses, employers in every industry recognize their value.

AI as a trusted business partner

These uncertain times laid bare the advantage of companies that were more advanced in AI. The adoption of new technologies by organizations has significantly increased this past year to meet demands and exceed expectations. Proficiency with artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotic process automation and cloud-based computing at scale are real competitive differentiators around the world. Those equipped with these tech skills can not only automate processes and leverage data analytics, but also perform more value-adding work, making them highly attractive and putting them in high demand in today’s labor market.

The value of sustainability

Management accountants are vital to the financial health of organizations as they plan for business sustainability. Companies that operate in global markets are subject to a variety of environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure requirements. Accounting and finance professionals with a pulse on sustainability reporting have a leg up. They see how ESG issues, such as climate change preparedness and diversity, equity and inclusion tie into the growth of intangible business value. More importantly, today’s finance leaders drive their organization’s value in an unpredictable market.

Rethinking risk

The COVID-19 pandemic caused supply chains and business continuity plans to crumble. Now, accountants are increasingly being called upon to minimize risk and prepare for future disruptions. All organizations are susceptible to fraudulent activities, but their accounting and finance teams can identify, deter and report fraud risks. These professionals make critical decisions and implement effective risk oversight, solving problems and thinking outside the box to the benefit of their businesses.

On this International Management Accounting Day, it’s worth asking what competing in a global accounting and finance talent pool means for CMAs. At IMA, we’ve been tracking these shifts and prevailing trends relevant to management accountants and other finance leaders and professionals. We’re proud to see them continuously bringing their value, expertise and determination to their companies during these uncertain times. This is why we have a day out of the year earmarked just to celebrate them.