Frank Minter, CPA
Executive in Residence, Samford University
An Issues-Oriented Approach Leads to Industrious Plans for the IMA
Frank Minter does not mince words, and he doesn't pause to choose the words when it comes to dealing with tough issues – topics that can literally make or break the Institute of Management Accountants during his term as President. Take member retention, for example, and the ongoing issue of the cost associated with membership renewals.
"When you add up the dues, it costs less than eating a Quarter Pounder with cheese once a week," he says. "I will not accept the fact that an employer won't support anyone financially as a valid reason for leaving the IMA, even though a number of members have told us that."
Just one in a long list of issues Minter must come to terms with during his tenure. Add on a continued awareness of certifications, how the association communicates with its members, and even dealing with the profession's acceptance of the XBRL reporting language, and you have a mixed bag that's sometimes filled with snakes.
At the heart of the matter is Minter himself. From his office at Samford College in Birmingham, AL, Minter speaks with a Southern drawl that would charm honey from a beehive. Once you get to know him, however, his tongue is as sharp as a tack and his intellect can be matched against the most influential members of the financial services profession.
Minter spent most of his working life with AT&T and the Bell System, reaching the positions of corporate vice president and controller of AT&T, and eventually as vice president and chief financial officer of two of its subsidiaries. Ten years ago, he came to Samford, a small, private college associated with the Alabama Baptist Convention, and now has quit teaching full time to pursue personal goals. His passion is the IMA, an organization of just slightly less than 70,000 professionals, most of whom (70 percent) are in finance and industry.
"We're the only accounting-related organization with members in all facets of the financial arena, but in many ways, we're no different than any other accounting or finance organization because we face the same issues as everyone else does," he says. "Volunteers have less and less time to devote to their trade associations, and consequently, we have seen a decline in membership over the last several years. We have set an objective to try and find out what it is that our members find most valuable, and ensure we are providing these services so they will continue to stay with us."
Minter explains that the organization's chapter participation still is very important to a large group of its members, but chapter affiliation has become less important than it was 10 years ago. "We've asked about this, and members tell us that there is so much going on in their lives that finding time to attend chapter meetings or even be an officer, board member or working in the chapter is just another added aspect to their professionals lives."
Minter plans to survey members, and follow-up with reality based marketing and implementation plans based on feedback. One member service he knows will continue is the IMA's certification program. The IMA offers both the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) and CFM (Certified in Financial Management) designations. Minter says these are very popular, but really are only as effective as they are on paper unless the business community understands their worth.
"We did some research studies in which we asked what corporate America wanted in new hires," he says. "We now have taken that information and made sure we are testing that on our CMA and CFM exams. If you hire a college graduate who has passed our exams, that graduate has the knowledge, skills and abilities the business marketplace told us they wanted their people to have."
Regarding the XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language), the IMA continues its support of the development of the language, and has done so since its infancy.
"This is a project that is going to provide significant benefit more to users because they will be able to get financial information from companies in which all the information has been reported in the same way. They won't have to download something and then reload or re-key it a second time so it matches someone else's information."
As Minter continues his year as president, he is assured of one thing: a strong sense that the profession remains extremely positive and the IMA has a continuous role in ensuring the success of each and every one of its members.
Minter welcomes comments and questions about the IMA and the financial services profession. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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