Financial data within an organisation is no more confidential or accessible to just a few members. Similarly, management accounting skills means a lot more than just working in isolation and delivering individual reports. Today, a Management Accountant is found placed firmly within a group, business unit or different teams.
In fact, today words such as “Business Partner”, “Business Manager” or “Analyst” are interchangeably used for the new-age management accountant.
Management accounting skills have changed as per business requirements and agility. Today there is a requirement of a Management Accountant who can derive actionable insights from data on a real-time basis.
Some of the top Management Accounting skills expected today are:
(1) Predictive Skills: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are some of the catalyst that have transformed the nature of Management Accounting. In the previous years, Management Accountants were more involved with data, presentation and analysis.
However, today the role has evolved. They are now expected to understand the business deeply and predict the impact of various factors on the operations. Today, it makes more sense for a Management Accountant to be futuristic in his dealings rather than just analysing the numbers in hindsight.
(2) Proactive in approach: In a nutshell, A Management Accountant skills should not only restrict oneself to analysis, but also be proactive in contributing to the bottom line of the business. Earlier, the Management Accountant used to be confined only to their respective departments.
However, today they are found to be more involved with other business units and departments. They offer guidance to other non-finance professionals and help them to see things in the perspective of financial gains and optimal costing. This way they can also change the thought process of the other professionals and mould it to become more business oriented.
(3) Communication skills: Today Management Accountants are not just expected to work on the data but also communicate the insights that they derive out of it to other business leaders. They must be able to do the storytelling and build a premise for the data. Communication is hence one of the must-have management accounting skills these days.
The findings can be communicated in the form of visualisation, case studies, stories, presentations and other mediums which are thoroughly supported by data to make it more effective.
(4) Flexibility: Management Accountants are expected to be flexible enough to fit into multiple roles. This can be the role of a Financial Analyst, Data Analyst, as well as a Business Manager who understands the commercial viability of the projects.
Today, it is the need of the hour that a management accountant is able to churn multiple ideas, build hypothesis and test the business case, forms strategies and advices the management to take corrective actions on a real-time basis.
(5) Sound Technical Skills: This is an age of disruptive technologies. For a Management Accountant to remain relevant in the organisation, he must have the ability to adapt well to changing technologies. The technical skills of a Management Accountant plays a pivotal role in deciding the quality of information presented by him.
Being able to handle automated processes, knowledge of Business Analytics, programming languages etc. are some of the basic requirements from a tech savvy Management Accountant. These are some of the common languages spoken in the organisation and a Management Accountant should be adept at this to related well to everyone and communicate well.
(6) People Management skills: Management Accountants do not work in isolation. They interact with teams across organisations and spearhead their own teams. Concrete information base forms the foundation of a Management Accountant’s core job.
These are information that come outside the purview of data collected officially. A Management Accountant often receives such soft information from reliable team members and he must motivate these team members to continuously look for such information beyond the usual sources.
The more such information, a Management Accountant can lay his hands on, the better placed he is to analyse the past, predict the future course and provide more ideas.
Management Accounting skills – a collaboration of crucial requirements
Unlike a Financial Accountant who is just restricted to work on financial reports and audit them, a Management Accountant has a much more strategic role to play. He is equally involved in the decision making process as much as with the core accounting process.
A Management Accountant‘s role always evolves with time and he must be ready to acquire concurrent skillsets like Technology, People Management, Analytics and Data Visualisation.
After CIMA, an aspirant qualifies to become a management accountant, but to be more productive and remain pivotal to the organisation, he must strive to master the skill sets related to the associated roles rather seamlessly.