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Management accounting: graduate area of work

This area of work is all about using financial skills to inform business decisions and lead change. Graduate management accountants use strategy to make a real difference.
Management accountants often need to see a business from a complex global perspective.

Management accounting deals with the supply of economic information that can aid in decision-making processes. Management accountants have acquired an in-depth knowledge of the business sectors they work in and a wide range of different skills such as planning, management and strategy in addition to their accounting abilities; it is this combination that allows them to provide specialised, business-specific guidance.

Providing the best advice

Management accountants offer advice on topics such as the economics of design, the cost of running of production lines, the maintenance of buildings and equipment, staffing levels and the potential cost and planning of IT solutions. Their approach generates insights into how a business can plan for, and adapt to, a changing environment. Management accountants often need to see a business from a complex global perspective, while dealing with the specific, local issues of each process at hand, and how all these different factors interact, in order to provide the best advice.

New developments

There has been an increasing interest in areas of risk management and governance involved in management accounting over the past couple of years. As with many other financial roles, the recent recession has brought home the importance to businesses of accurate planning, risk assessment and best practice.

Starting out

Management accountants usually start off in a general financial role and then move on to specialise. A range of degrees is accepted, typically with a 2.1, and those who can demonstrate at interviews a flair for business, finance or management will have an advantage. Qualification is offered by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) or the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

Skills required

Along with good decision making skills, a high degree of numeracy and a good level of business acumen, management accountants need to be able to present often complex financial information to management staff in an easy-to-understand manner. Over time, to progress further, they need to develop an in-depth knowledge of the field they work in.