Not many Ghanaians like to engage in any academic process that requires a constant interaction with numbers. Most Ghanaians are known to have a ‘phobia for maths’, and so, people who do academic programmes that are maths-centric are highly regarded.
Bernard Boafo-Bekoe is one such persons. He loves numbers, calculations and analyzing figures, and he seems to have taken that love for numbers to the height of his career, and recently, he made history as the first person in Ghana to sit and pass the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Chief Financial Officer (CFO) – Pathway Exams.
“I am extremely glad to have known that I’m the first to have passed the CIMA CFO pathway exam. I remember I mentioned to Leo Mensah Sossah (Director, Benchmark) that I would work hard and challenge myself to sit the exam and pass on first attempt and I’m delighted I have achieved that significant feat without even sitting any mock exam,” he says.
Boafo-Bekoe is a certified professional accountant, banker and a chartered analyst with more than 17 years of extensive experience. He has worked in roles at senior executive level with a major focus on strategic and corporate management, leadership, policy analysis, financial accounting and reporting, risk management, financial management, organizational restructuring and review, market research, project management and evaluation among others.
He is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Izwe Savings and Loans PLC where he has been working for five years.
He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Financial and Investment Analysts, Ghana (CIFIAG), a Fellow of the Institute of Public Analysts and Political Scientists, Nigeria, graduated from the Paris Graduate School of Management, France, with an International Executive MBA degree (Banking & Finance) and also holds ACCA.
He believes the interest to be a professional in his chosen career started very early in life, a desire that went contrary to what his parents had wished for him.
“Growing up was fun and I have always wanted an occupation that involves a lot of analytical thinking and it is not surprising that I ended up as an Accountant and Analyst even though my parents wished for me to be a medical doctor,” he says.
Speaking about why he chose the CIMA programme he says, “The CIMA programme provides more than management accounting. CIMA makes you a financial expert with relevant business insight.
CIMA does not only make you a numbers person or by extension an accountant, but positions you fit at the C-Suite level where you are able to speak to all the business areas.”
His decision to choose CIMA, was driven by the fact that after being in senior executive role for some time he wanted to engage in a challenging programme that will provide the platform for career development and enhancement in management accounting, finance and business acumen at the same time.
“Looking around it was only CIMA that provides such a programme,” he says.
He indicates that as a CFO it is in his responsibilities to always make meaningful strategic influences and decisions from the numbers he crunches, and this has to be done during the manufacturing of those numbers and not only wait to speak to it after the historic numbers are reached. “In that way, you take control of the numbers and make the necessary decisions in time to ensure the business performance is steep and assured,” he says.
Boafo-Bekoe believes that for businesses to be sustainable, they need the right people with the right skills to drive business performance.
“I am privileged to indicate that the CIMA programme has an array of these right skills. The CIMA programme develops skills sets at the strategic level by integrating the core variants and competent framework every strategist or an entrepreneur needs namely, technical skills, business skills, people skills and leadership skills which are underpinned by strong ethical standards, integrity and professionalism.
I must say that the CIMA syllabus focuses on developing skills beyond knowledge-based learning to application and analysis in resolving emerging problems.
I must also emphasis that having gone through the CIMA programme, I am privileged to have enhanced and be equipped with these skills set and poised to take up the challenges ahead as a strategist in any business area. This is precisely what led me on to be enrolled in the CIMA programme,” he says.
Despite being a number person, Boafo-Bekoe confesses that it was no easy path in preparing and sitting for the examinations.
“Preparing for exams can be a daunting task more so having gained sixteen exemptions out of seventeen very challenging papers in CIMA. This basically means you need to catch up with the sixteen papers you have been exempted before you even think of preparing for the top CIMA, strategic case study exam,” he says.
Telling it the way he felt it, he says trying to get through all the questions during the exams was quite challenging and time consuming.
“I had expected questions which would take quick to complete but there was a mix of short and long questions which demanded profound analytical and forward thinking but overall it was well balanced. Indeed the CIMA strategic level exams and particularly the SCS exams is more about implementation and application of strategic matters,” Boafo-Bekoe explains.
The successful professional, however is delighted to share the secrets of his achievements with an institution that played a role in the journey – Benchmark, a CIMA accredited tuition provider and business executive college in Ghana.
“I gained extensive insights and the right assistance from the seasoned lecturers and faculty of the college. I specifically went to Benchmark because in 2008 I had a subordinate with an engineering background who enrolled with Benchmark and wanted to pursue a career in accounting and finance for the first time. It turned out that he passed the first four subjects of a finance and accounting professional qualification on a first attempt and I thought that was a remarkable achievement,” he says.
Benchmark, he says has been quite supportive and very valuable in his CIMA journey.
“I shall on this note recommend this business executive college to any student who wishes to embark or enhance his/her CIMA journey and in particular through the Gateway and CFO routes. Finally, I wish to mention that Benchmark doesn’t only equip students with the right skills and prepares students to pass exams but also strives to transform students into business executive leaders,” he adds.