Management accountants are often involved in the formulation of business strategy, but not all businesses yet use the discipline to its full potential, according to a new report from Nottingham Trent University and sponsored by CIMA, The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
The report, written by Dr Graham Pitcher, was based on in-depth interviews with fourteen accountants working in industry. All participants described situations where information they had provided had been used to support strategic decisions, and half described instances of “business partnering” – where they worked hand-in-hand with colleagues from across the organisation as part of an integrated approach to decision-making. However, two participants felt that they were simply used as “bean-counters” who primarily undertook monitoring and evaluation.
Dr Pitcher said: “Management accountants have the training and tools to help inform top-level decision-making, and help organisations achieve sustainable success. But while plenty of businesses and public sector bodies recognise this, the effect is not universal. This is arguably a missed opportunity, because one thing that was clear from our report was that organisations that used management accountants as ‘business partners’ tended to have a clearer idea of their own business strategy.”
The report also found that successful management accountants had skills to offer beyond the understanding and provision of financial information.
Dr Pitcher said: “It is not just accounting skills that are required but the wider skill set, including business acumen, interpersonal skills and the ability to build a relationship with senior management that enables the accountant to add value to the process.”
Download the full report.
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