Management accountants specialise in providing information and advice to managers in all kinds of organisations. They differ from financial accountants in that they tend to be more involved with general management, working with managers to analyse costs and revenues and helping to develop business strategy to maximise performance.
As management accountants can work in any sector, career paths can be quite flexible. It is possible for a management accountant to progress to the role of financial manager, who works with managers at a high level. Working across the private and public sectors, financial managers usually hold budget responsibility and often manage a financial team or department.
What will I do?
Management accountants’ main day-to-day tasks include producing reports such as monthly accounts, budgets and forecasts to monitor the organisation’s financial performance and to assist managers in making strategic decisions. In larger organisations, graduates often specialise in a particular area of work function or geographical region. Management accountants working for capital-intensive companies may also complete some aspects of investment analysis or appraisal as part of their role.
Large organisations such as industry conglomerates run graduate training schemes in which you will usually rotate around different divisions or departments to gain a broad overview of management accountancy. Initial inductions may be less formal in smaller organisations, and specialism is less common. As a management accountant, you will usually be based in your organisation’s offices rather than on client sites.
Like financial accountancy, management accountancy accepts graduates from all disciplines. You will have the opportunity to become professionally qualified through a professional association such as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. This involves studying to complete the required examinations while working. To thrive in this career, you require a good commercial understanding to advise managers, as well as top-notch interpersonal skills to forge positive working relationships. Keeping to deadlines and having a firm knowledge of accountancy standards will also stand you in good stead.
The contribution that management accountants make to an organisation’s strategy and financial success has been increasingly recognised over recent years. While monitoring cash flow and profit and loss remains an essential component of the work, management accountants are increasingly expected to be involved in devising business strategy. As such, management accountancy is excellent preparation for general management and executive finance positions.