Management accounting deals with the very top levels of a company, advising the big cheeses on all things accounting and finance-related.
The primary role within this area is that of a management accountant. These guys provide a fresh perspective of solid accounting reasoning on any business plan or project a company’s management team cooks up. It’s extremely important for businesses to get this insight; the last thing they want to do is plough full steam ahead into a new project that’s going to cripple them financially!
What does management accounting take?
Management accountants are hired in-house with companies (usually the larger ones) and will understand the accounts and finances of the business to a tee. They have to be hot on numbers, use strong analytical skills to scope out the financial feasibility of plans and the costs of running the various elements of a business, plan out budgets, conduct internal audits (essentially health checks on the company’s accounts!) and have a strong understanding of risk management strategies. All that, plus they have to be informative and tactful in delivering their findings and advising the company’s managers from an accounting perspective.
It’s quite common for management accountants to work closely with business strategists to ensure any strategy development is shaped with the accounts at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Teamwork is really important here; a management accountant may well lead the rest of the company’s in-house accountants.
It’s also possible to branch out into management accounting at a specialist accountancy firm or professional services firm where you’ll provide guidance for a whole range of businesses, rather than just the one.
The road to becoming a management accountant…
You can get into management accounting with any degree discipline, or even through a Higher Apprenticeship or School Leaver Programme. A little patience will be necessary though; you can’t head straight into a leading management accounting role straight away! Most management accountants tend to start out in more general accountancy roles and earn professional qualifications as they progress to specialise. You could become chartered with CIMA (The Chartered Institute of Management Accounting) or CIPFA (The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy).