By Margaret Michaels
I always say you never really know a person until you see how they act in a crisis. I believe the most trustworthy people are battle-tested. Difficulties don’t break them. They become stronger because of them.
The same can be said for IMA. For proof, I went into the IMA archives to find publications dating back to two pivotal events in IMA history: The Great Depression and the 2008 Financial Crisis.
In October 1929, IMA’s 1930 fiscal year kicked off. It coincided directly with the Wall Street market crash. The crash brought about a worldwide economic depression, with record numbers of unemployed and a shuttering of businesses. Unemployment in the U.S. would reach an all-time high of 24.9% by 1933.
Yet IMA (then known as the National Association of Cost Accountants or NACA) maintained its growth and commitment to members. According to the November 1, 1930 NACA Bulletin (Vol. XII, No. 5), NACA President Addison Boren informed members of some exceptionally positive developments. He wrote:
“In a year of widespread business depression, the Association has continued its splendid record for progress in every department. While we have added no new chapters we have substantially increased our membership.”
President Boren considered why this fledging association, then just ten years old, was thriving and concluded it was how NACA shared “the benefits of better methods devised and tried but by the few.” In the first test of the organization, NACA proved that the “gospel of good accounting” had a receptive audience, even in times of trial. And the NACA implemented a referral service to help those who were out of work find jobs. NACA was there for its members when they needed it most.
The Great Depression was supposed to be the economic event no one born after 1933 need re-live. But fast forward some 77 years later and a similar crisis was underway. In 2007 a sub-prime mortgage lending disaster resulted in near collapse of the global economy. In October 2008 a $700 billion bailout package was passed by Congress, and in 2010 landmark legislation (the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) was passed.
IMA members contributed articles to Strategic Finance magazine offering perspective on the crisis and the issues it generated. In a time of great uncertainty, then IMA Chair Frederick E. Schea, CMA, CFM, CPA, wrote in his column that focusing on the needs of customers first could stem some of the problems on display in the financial system. He exhorted management accountants “to question things that seem wrong” as their professional duty.
IMA and its members survived the financial crisis by supporting one another. In 2009 IMA LinkUp (today called MyIMA) launched as on online community where members could share problems and success stories. In 2013, IMA rejoined the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) to engage in discussions about the direction of management accounting on an international level. By 2018, IMA surpassed the 100,000 member mark.
Weathering storms together is what IMA is all about. Resilience is part of the fabric of IMA members who have lived through challenging events that affect them professionally and personally. In a rapidly changing world, where every day seems to bring on a new crisis, IMA remains a source of stability and support for management accountants around the world, battle-tested and ready to help.
Currently serves as IMA’s Manager of Brand Content and Storytelling where she works on IMA’s blog, executive-level presentations, and CMA stories. Margaret has over a decade of experience creating and executing marketing communications in the financial services and non-profit sectors. She recently headed up communications for the City University of New York’s Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG) where she worked on public affairs for the Equality Indicators, a Rockefeller-funded performance measurement tool for cities.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware and a Masters in Information Science from Pratt Institute.