Management accountant: job description

Management accountants aid managerial planning and commercial decision-making tasks by providing appropriate financial information and undertaking related accounts administration.

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Good maths and computer skills are required for a career as a management accountant.

What do management accountants do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Management accountants look after a company’s accounts. They advise managers about the financial implications of business decisions to aid growth and profit.

Responsibilities of the job include:

  • preparing reports, budgets, commentaries and financial statements
  • undertaking financial administration and internal audits
  • liaising with managerial staff and other colleagues
  • supervising a team of accounting technicians
  • developing and managing financial systems/policies
  • negotiating and obtaining finance for major projects
  • controlling and forecasting income and expenditure
  • creating business strategies to generate shareholder value.

Opportunities to work overseas may be offered by some employers. With experience (at least five years), management accountants can work their way up to senior roles such as financial controller, finance director, or the CFO of a company.

Typical employers of management accountants

  • Any public and private sector organisations with an accounting or financial department, such as health services, retail and transport
  • Financial institutions.

Vacancies are advertised by careers services, specialist recruitment agencies and in local, regional and national newspapers and publications (online and print)such as TARGETjobs Finance and Accountancy Age. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) regularly produces lists of training vacancies.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a career in management accounting for both university graduates and school leavers. For graduates, any degree is accepted, although qualifications in accountancy or mathematical, management or business subjects are very useful because these will allow you exemptions from some of the exams needed to become professionally qualified. There are a number of professional accountancy bodies you can train with, though the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA) is commonly chosen by aspiring management accountants; some employers may, however, specify which professional body they want you to study with.

You will also gain exemptions if you have studied for the Technician level qualification with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT); see our accounting technician job description for more information. This qualification can be undertaken by school leavers.

School leavers can also become management accountants by studying for the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting before moving on to the Professional Qualification.

Although most employers give study leave, a substantial amount of private study is also usually necessary to ensure that all examination stages are successfully passed. There are a wide variety of study options available including day/block release, distance learning, correspondence and evening classes.

Key skills for management accountants

  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • The ability to work as part of a team
  • Excellent analytical and numerical abilities
  • Sound business knowledge
  • Accuracy and an eye for detail.

View our graduate accountancy and financial management vacancies and internships

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