Long before companies ever had to produce financial reports for external shareholders, there were management accountants, crunching numbers and analysing data in-house to enable their boards to make sound strategic decisions. The majority of all qualified accountants worldwide today are management accountants, driving their businesses forward and navigating them through ever-changing global economic conditions. Despite this, companies are facing a challenge as they approach technological change and an uncertain economy: where are all the management accountants?
When candidates choose their qualification path, many are set on working at one of the Big Four or in an investment bank, or want to specialise in a certain area, such as M&A, and as such don’t consider management accounting, possibly believing it to be less attractive in some way, or too “traditional”, but they are hugely underestimating the importance of the role. CIMA, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, obviously promotes the career choice of management accountant, recently focusing on demonstrating the value that management accountants can add outside the finance function and the impact they can have on the growth and progress of a company.
The wide-ranging financial and management skills of a management accountant not only add value to organisations, they also put the individual in a prime position for future roles, due to their commercial focus and emphasis on forward thinking. There isn’t a specialist branch of accountant that wouldn’t benefit from such a solid commercial background. Furthermore, going forward, the role is going to be crucial as data plays a larger role in the success of companies.
The skill of the management accountant, in essence, is turning data into usable information. It is estimated that more data has been created in the last two years than in the previous 200 millennia of human history. While only a fraction of this data is ever analysed, the speed of technological advancements puts management accountants at an exciting, challenging point in history. Big Data has become a buzzword for the complex amount of data that can be analysed and managed, enabling companies to make better decisions. By 2020, it is believed that there will be ten times the amount of data available than there is today, much of it in the cloud. Businesses that can interpret this data will have a distinct competitive advantage, putting management accountants at the forefront of strategic decision-making.
In the UK, we are already seeing the demand for management accountants rise, in readiness for the inevitable changes in the wake of Brexit, as well as on a technological change front. The opportunities with leading employers in diverse sectors are outnumbering the candidates, who are becoming seriously sought after. If you are an accountant at the start of your career, considering which route to take, or a management accountant looking for a new challenge, contact us today.