Preparing you for an automated future

Stephen Flatman explains how the Institute is preparing its PQs for the workplace of the future

According to recent news reports, about 1.5 million people in the UK are at risk of parts of their jobs being automated in the next few years. This is according to recent estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which analysed the jobs of 20 million people in England in 2017, and found that 7.4% of UK workers are at high risk of automation. At the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the unified voice of CIMA and the AICPA, we have been looking into how this change will impact finance professionals and management accountants.

Over 18 months, we hosted roundtables and interviews and also undertook a global survey, speaking to 5,500 finance professionals from over 2,000 public and private organisations in over 150 countries. We grounded our conversations in a framework based on understanding the digital challenges that threaten business success, how finance functions need to perform for success, and the skills and competencies they need from individual accounting professionals to meet these challenges.

For our students and other part qualified finance professionals we know changes from automation can, in some part, be felt now – but the changes ahead will be vast. With this in mind we updated our professional qualification to enable our finance professionals of the future to learn how to embrace the digital world we live and work in. And also so they acquire the skills they need to make connections between seemingly disparate things to provide insights into complex, global patterns of behaviour and importantly, spot opportunities and risks where others might not.

The new CIMA syllabus went live in January and is due for examination for the first time in November; it now covers digital costing and digital strategy, blockchain, artificial intelligence and data analytics. The changes also flow through our competency framework, which our syllabus is based on and our exams. To help guide our students through the updated exams syllabus we developed exam blueprints, a first for the profession.
The blueprints are a tool, designed for tuition providers and students, to understand our expectations. You can use them to gain insight into what you’ll be assessed on and employers can use them to see all the skills you’ve acquired.

The blueprints will guide you through the core activities at your level and show how the skills and competencies you’ll develop are linked to your assessment outcomes. They also include ‘I Can’ statements that reflect all the knowledge and understanding you have acquired.

So, for example, after having completed the Operational level you’ll be able to make a number of statements including ‘I can understand how the finance function can leverage novel technologies and the associated data to improve information used by decision makers’; or ‘I can understand how a digital mind-set can transform finance functions, processes and measurement of performance’.

A sustainable career

We have done all this so our students develop into professionals with a sustainable career, and we provide employers with professionals that can strategically support the finance function’s move away from cost to value centre.
Anyone thinking of studying the new syllabus with us can access the blueprints at

Find out more information on the changes at
For students part way through their studies, you can also use our transition tool and create a personal guide and pathway to help you with your future studies.

• Stephen Flatman, Vice President, Examinations, Management Accounting, The Association of International Certified