BYU first university to win ICMA accounting award

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Brigham Young University is the first university to receive the Institute of Certified Management Accountants Board of Regents Recognition Award. 

The ICMA Board of Regents Recognition Award was received by Parker Davis — a 2015 accounting graduate and former IMA student chapter officer — on behalf of BYU at the ICMA’s’ Annual Conference & Expo on June 17.

This award and recognition is due to the dedication and focus BYU invests in students taking the Certified Management Accountant exam. The Deloitte Professor of Accounting at BYU Monte Swain said the drive to take the CMA exam comes from BYU’s IMA student chapter.

“We’re building out our portfolio of education with this IMA award. We’re as strong in management accounting now as we are in financial and tax accounting. We’re a triple threat,” he said.

Swain also said BYU’s IMA student chapter resembles a student rally. “The one thing that makes it unique to what you see with other student clubs is they jointly decided we are going to do the CMA exam, and we are going to support each other in it. They’ve established this kind of collegial approach.”

The collegiate approach the students are taking in the chapter shows overwhelmingly positive results on the CMA exam. In 2017, BYU had an 89 percent pass rate from 58 individuals who took the exam. For the U.S., the average pass rate is between 50 to 60 percent, which is up from 40 to 50 percent worldwide. BYU also has many more students who take the exam compared to other universities.

Parker Davis, a 2015 accounting graduate and former IMA student chapter officer, received the ICMA Board of Regents Recognition Award at the IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo on behalf of BYU. (provided by the IMA to BYU’s IMA student chapter)

“These students work hard, they’re brilliant, and they’re collegial, they’re in fellowship with each other, and they’re not in competition with each other here,” Swain said. “Hard work, great work ethic, natively bright, just the bench strength is terrific, and they work together. You can’t beat that.” 

The student chapter is sponsored by the IMA and endorsed by the BYU School of Accountancy. Three faculty advisors — Swain, Bill Tayler, and Steve Smith — helped establish the group.

Christian Hildebrandt, a CMA preparation officer in the chapter, said the club members strengthen each other.

“I think we’re all united in the purpose of wanting to succeed together and then also wanting to give back to BYU’s good name. I think that’s the reason why instead of it being like a competition between students at BYU, we work together to try to help each other make sure we pass the exam,” he said.

Cameron Prestwich, the club’s marketing officer, also said the group feels like a family. Older, more experienced members often take the time to help orient new members.

“It’s definitely much more of a family atmosphere. I feel like the presidents of this last year, who just graduated, I feel like they definitely kind of took us under their wings and showed us the ropes,” he said. “I could really feel a sincere desire from them that kind of trickled down to everyone else.”

From left: Rich Swindler, Doug Jepsen (2017 BYU IMA Co-President), Tyler Day, and Brady Chambers (2017 BYU IMA Co-President) lead BYU's IMA student chapter and help students prepare to take the CMA exam and be successful in their future careers. (provided by BYU's IMA student chapter)
From left: Rich Swindler, Doug Jepsen, Tyler Day and Brady Chambers were some of the leaders involved in BYU’s IMA student chapter in 2017. These student leaders help other accounting students prepare to take the CMA exam and be successful in their future careers. (provided by BYU’s IMA student chapter)

The chapter is designed to help BYU students become members of the IMA, receive the CMA certification and prepare them for a career in accounting.

The activities that the student leadership of the chapter organizes include information sessions with companies who are looking to hire accountants, case competitions, plant tours, CMA preparation sessions, service activities and professional development workshops.

President of the chapter Kyle Nordhagen said they’re “trying to help students and allow the club to flourish.”

BYU is consistently one of the most highly rated recruiting schools of the world’s accounting firms, according to Hildebrandt.

“In accounting terms, we’ve got great raw materials coming in, and we’ve got a great work-in-process. What comes out at the end is wonderful,” Swain said.

Student members also attribute a large portion of the success to BYU’s program and professors. 

“As the officers of the IMA chapter here at BYU, we try to do a lot of events, but honestly, the reason why BYU students do so well is because the accounting program at BYU is amazing,” Hildebrandt said. “It really deserves that ranking because the professors here at BYU in accounting are amazing. They’re experienced. They’re knowledgeable. They’re great at teaching.”

Receiving the award will only encourage the student chapter to continue to support one another in their future careers and to bring recognition to BYU.

“The IMA has been a fantastic experience for my personal career and also for being involved in school. It was a great opportunity for me to get out of the day-to-day of classes and actually be involved in something much bigger than yourself. It was a great group. I received fantastic training, and I’d recommend it to anybody,” former co-president Doug Jepsen said.

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