Our History

When IMA was founded in 1919, the world – and the accounting profession – were very different. Join us at the beginning as we explore 100 years of milestones at IMA and around the world.

Scroll down to navigate through the 100 years since IMA’s founding.

IMA Conference attendees


The “Roaring Twenties” or the “Jazz Age” saw a massive economic boom, widespread technological advances, increased personal freedom and significant changes in lifestyle and culture in the U.S. Globally, the League of Nations was created to maintain world peace after World War I.

The profession that would come to be known as management accounting began in the 1920s, with IMA’s founder’s vision that the useful application of accounting concepts beyond traditional financial statement preparation could drive business performance.  The focus was on cost determination and managerial control over a corporation’s operations.

IMA Milestones

  • 1919

    IMA, then the National Association of Cost Accountants (NACA), is created on October 14, 1919 in Buffalo, N.Y. and names its first president, Major J. Lee Nicholson.

  • 1919

    National Association of Cost Accountants first issue establishing bylaws and objectives of the organization

  • Atlantic City Boardwalk 1920

    IMA’s first Annual Conference is held in Atlantic City, N.J. The first four chapters of the NACA are chartered in Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.

  • Authors of NACA Bulletin 1924

    The ever-popular chapter competition is created, and the NACA Bulletin, IMA's first publication, is introduced.


Global Milestones

  • 1920

    In the U.S., women find new confidence from the passing of the 19th Amendment, giving them the right to vote.

  • 1924 The first Olympic games in Haute-Savoie, France

    The first Olympic Winter Games take place in Chamonix and Haute-Savoie, France.

  • 1929

    The crash of the Stock Exchange in 1929 takes the world by surprise and causes the stagnation of global economies for many years after.


After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, most of the 1930s were defined by The Great Depression, which rippled across world economies and led to widespread poverty.  In the U.S., the New Deal ushered in a series of federal programs aimed at alleviating hardship.

The passage of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 enforced federal securities laws and regulated the securities industry, the nation’s stock and options exchanges and other activities and organizations. Globally, the rise of authoritarian regimes called into question the future of democracy.

IMA Milestones

  • 1930

    November Annual Meeting reflects on membership declines in light of the Great Depression

  • 1931

    IMA creates the Carter Trophy, which recognizes the chapter showing the greatest improvement in competition standing during the current year, as compared to its average standing during the past three years.

  • Oil portrait of Doc McLeod 1934

    The Spot Club, later renamed the Stuart Cameron McLeod Society, is created and holds its first meeting under Chris Finney (former NACA president) and Stuart Cameron “Doc” McLeod. (Pictured: Stuart Cameron “Doc” McLeod)


Global Milestones

  • 1930

    Pluto is discovered.

  • 1932 Amelia Earhart in airplane

    Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

  • 1939

    Germany invades Poland, sparking the beginning of World War II.


In the 1940s, World War II had a profound effect on most countries in Europe, Asia, and North America. New technologies such as computers, nuclear power, and jet propulsion are developed, often related to the war effort.

At the same time, the accounting profession in the U.S. reached new heights of standing and reputation. Several profession-wide committees were created in this decade whose output would eventually yield accounting standards such as General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

IMA Milestones

  • IMA's first international charter in Cuba 1943

    IMA charters its first international chapter in Cuba as an acknowledgement of management accounting's globalized skill set.

  • IMA Research Committee 1945

    IMA’s Research Committee is established as a distinct standing committee, demonstrating IMA’s commitment to the function.

  • 1945

    Post WWII NACA Bulletin discusses profit sharing with employees, highlighting the booming U.S. economy and the rebound from the war

  • The Lybrand Award Medal 1949

    The Lybrand Award is created, which awards the top educational articles in IMA’s publications.


Global Milestones

  • 1941

    The U.S. enters World War II after an attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor.

  • 1944 Ladislao José Biro, who patented the first commercially successful modern ballpoint pen

    Ballpoint pens go on sale for the first time and eventually completely overtake fountain pens as the writing instrument of choice.

  • 1945

    World War II ends in Europe and the Pacific.

  • 1947

    India becomes independent from Britain.


In the 1950s, post-World War II rebuilding began. The U.S. experienced a “baby boom,” with 72.4 million babies born between 1946 and 1964. The economy was also booming, with a new wave of consumers eager for new cars, houses, and modern appliances. Decolonization began in Africa and Asia, and would accelerate into the following decade.

By the 1950s, management accounting was moving toward planning and control. Cost accounting and standard costing continued to develop to provide more accurate product cost information.

IMA Milestones

  • NAA's Logo 1957

    IMA changes its name from NACA to the National Association of Accountants (NAA), dropping the word “cost” and making the organization broader in mission and scope.

  • 1959

    IMA’s Student Publication Services is officially inaugurated.


Global Milestones

  • 1951

    Color TV is introduced.

  • 1957 A replica of Sputnik 1 at the U.S. National Air and Space Museum.

    Launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik, kicking off the space race and ushering in the space age.


The “Swinging Sixties” witnessed a relaxation of social taboos, especially related to racism and sexism in the U.S. Largely recovered from World War II, Europe had an economic boom that led to a major expansion of the middle class.

Management accounting at this time began to mean more than just cost accounting. The field was increasingly becoming more quantitative, through the use of mathematical models.

IMA Milestones

  • 1960

    IMA becomes a founding member of a Joint Advisory Council on Developing Student Interest in Accounting, the organization’s first formal program targeting students.

  • 1962

    Technical committees are formed due to feedback from a member-wide survey

  • 1965

    IMA appoints a long-range objectives committee, tasked with charting the course for the organization. One recommendation is to offer a management accounting examination. This test became the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant).

  • 1967

    Students are becoming an increasingly large part of the organization / NACA Bulletin includes article on “How Students View Business”


Global Milestones

  • 1961

    Togo, Cote D'Ivoire, Chad, Benin, Mauritania, Senegal, and the Central African Republic gain independence from France.

  • 1964 The Beatles waving to fans upon arrival at Kennedy Airport

    The Beatles take the U.S. by storm, changing pop music forever.

  • 1969

    Neil Armstrong becomes the first human to walk on the moon during the flight of Apollo 11.


The 1970s is commonly referred to as a “pivot of change” in world history. Progressive values such as increased civic engagement among women contributed to the ascension of the first female British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Widespread stagflation led to a shift from Keynesian to neoliberal economic theory in many economies.

In the financial world, the current Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) came along in 1973. Increased regulations encouraged the first large accounting firms – the Big Eight – to form and service the needs of the many companies going public.

IMA Milestones

  • Headshot of James Bulloch 1972

    The first CMA Exam, created by James Bulloch, is issued.

  • 1972

    IMA issues its first Statement on Management Accounting (SMA), Concepts for Contract Costing.

  • 1978

    New advancements in computing technology are revolutionizing how management accountants do their jobs


Global Milestones

  • 1970

    Computer floppy disks make their debut as larger versions of the later, more popular 3.5-inch versions

  • 1977 The logo for Star Wars

    "Star Wars" premieres and has a significant impact on modern popular culture.

  • 1979

    Sony introduces the Walkman, allowing everyone to take their favorite music everywhere.


The 1980s saw the rise of cell phones and Apple, as well as the fall of  the Berlin Wall. Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller” became—and remains—the best-selling album of all time.

In management accounting, the rise of personal computing brought computer power to management accountants as well. Spreadsheet analysis gave management accountants access to tools like Activity Based Costing, which improved costing and moved the profession into performance measurement.

IMA Milestones

  • 1983

    IMA’s Standards of Ethical Conduct of Management Accountants, the first code of ethics for management accountants in the U.S., is issued.

  • 1985

    In response to massive savings and loan frauds, COSO (the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission) is formed with IMA as a founding member.

  • NAA Office 1985

    IMA headquarters finds a new home in Montvale, N.J.

  • 1986

    The Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA), the certifying body for the CMA exam, is incorporated.

  • 1987

    Management accountants’ roles expand to support competitive strategy as seen in the Management Accounting article “Material Burdening: Management Accounting Can Support Competitive Strategy”


Global Milestones

  • 1980

    China’s population reaches one billion. It remains the most populous country in the world.

  • 1983 Sally Ride

    Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.

  • 1986

    After years of isolationism, China's "open-door policy" opens the country to foreign investment and encourages development of a market economy.

  • 1989 People atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 1989

    The Berlin Wall is taken down.


The 1990s tech bubble — spurred in part by the invention of the World Wide Web, which had millions of active users by the mid-1990s — caused a reliance on continuous cutting-edge research in information computerization and technology, marking the shift from the industrial age to the digital information age.

IMA still operated under the name “National Association of Accountants” but found it lacked resonance with the business community. They did not connect the name with the CMA, so the organization changed its name to the Institute of Management Accountants.

IMA Milestones

  • IMA's first logo 1991

    NAA is renamed the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).

  • 1994

    IMA's Research Foundation, then the Foundation for Applied Research, is created to help bridge the gap between academics and management accounting professionals, while contributing to the development of knowledge in the profession.

  • 1995

    A new global focus takes shape, where the CMA becomes a common language around the world - and the accounting and finance profession.

  • 1997

    CMA tests are fully computerized.

  • Pam Stewart 1998

    IMA names its first female president, Pam Prinz Stewart.

  • 1999

    IMA’s monthly flagship publication, "Management Accounting," is rebranded as "Strategic Finance," which also becomes available online.


Global Milestones

  • 1992

    Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web, which helps popularize the internet among the public.

  • 1992 European Union

    The European Union is created after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty.

  • 1996

    Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal, is born.

  • 1999

    The world worries about the Y2K bug as the turn of the millennium approaches.


The 2000s were a decade of tremendous change for accounting and finance professionals, with disruptive technologies, market-altering mergers, and trailblazing products that transformed the business landscape and drastically changed the way we live and work. The U.S. economy went into recession as the world experienced a major financial crisis.

After a prolonged period of corporate scandals in the U.S., the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) was enacted to increase investor confidence and close loopholes that allowed companies to defraud investors. SOX increased financial disclosures and internal control tests, and established the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which sets accounting standards.

IMA Milestones

  • 2000

    IMA's first Student Leadership Conference is held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, offering three days of learning and career networking opportunities for college students and faculty.

  • 2007

    IMA opens its first regional office in China and begins offering the CMA exam in Simplified Chinese.

  • Staff of IMA’s Dubai offices 2008

    The first office in the Middle East and Africa region is opened in Dubai, UAE.

  • 2009

    IMA kicks off its Leadership Academy with a live board meeting in Cape Cod, Mass.


Global Milestones

  • 2000 Apple’s 1st generation iPod

    Apple releases the iPod, the elegant gadget that changed the way we purchase and listen to music.

  • 2001

    On September 11, 2001, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurs in the U.S. This event is now referred to as 9/11.

  • 2002

    The Euro is introduced in 12 countries within the Euro-zone, including France and Germany.

  • 2004

    Dubai begins the shift from an oil-based to a service-based economy.

  • 2008

    The stock market crash of 2008 results in bank failures and sharp reductions in the value of stocks and commodities around the world.


In the 2010s, automation and artificial intelligence begin to be adopted by businesses across the world, creating fears of job displacement. Simultaneously, management accountants are being asked to take on bigger, more strategic roles, not just that of “bean counter.” Skills in high demand include analytical thinking, problem solving, business strategy, leadership, negotiation, and communication. Those in the profession realize they must evolve to meet new demands or face irrelevancy.

IMA Milestones

  • IMA opens its first European satellite office in Zurich 2011

    IMA opens its first European satellite office in Zurich (Photo: Gaston Wicky).

  • 2016

    IMA opens its seventh global office in Southeast Asia to support the CMA program in the region that includes Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

  • The CSCA Logo 2017

    IMA introduces a specialty credential for CMAs - the CSCA - focused on sharpening expertise in strategic planning, competitive analysis and decision-making.

  • 2019

    IMA celebrates 100 years of advancing the management accounting profession.


Global Milestones

  • 2011

    The global population reaches seven billion. More than 74 million people are now being born each year - equivalent to the entire population of Turkey.

  • 2013 UBER Logo

    Apps like Uber and Airbnb usher in the “sharing economy,” in which individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else.

  • 2017

    The Event Horizons Telescope (EHT) project collects the final data needed to form the first real picture of a black hole.

  • 2017

    Elon Musk launches Neuralink, a venture to merge the human brain with AI.