Management accountant: job description

Management accountants’ work helps business leaders make strategic decisions.

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Management accountant: job description Management accountants’ work helps business leaders make strategic decisions.

What does a management accountant do? | Graduate salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Management accountants put together and present financial reports that give senior managers insights into an organisation’s performance. For example, they may forecast the likely income from a new product or investigate where costs could be saved in an organisation’s processes.

Typical duties include:

  • gathering and analysing trends within an organisation’s finances
  • putting together reports for senior leaders
  • controlling and forecasting income and expenditure
  • advising on finance-related decisions
  • developing and managing financial systems/policies.

Management accounting is one specialist branch of many within the accounting field: read more about the difference between the work of a management accountant , whose focus is working with managers internally within an organisation, and of a financial accountant , whose focus is to provide information for external stakeholders such as investors and shareholders.

To qualify as a management accountant, you’ll need to work towards professional qualifications – most frequently with the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA). Jump to the ‘qualifications and training required’ section for further details.

Graduate salaries

Recent salary surveys suggest that trainee CIMA accountants typically earn between £20,000 and £25,000 a year, although some trainees earn more, especially at larger organisations and in London. Earnings typically rise as you progress towards your qualifications and upon qualifying. Read our round-up of graduate accountancy salaries and benefits for more information.

Typical employers of management accountants

Although a few experienced management accountants offer advice and insights to clients as a self-employed consultant, most management accountants work for the following types of organisation:

  • Financial and law firms
  • Retailers
  • Public sector bodies, such as NHS trusts
  • Media companies
  • IT companies
  • Manufacturers
  • Educational organisations such as universities

Look for graduate roles on , via your careers service and directly via employers.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a career in management accounting for both university graduates and school leavers. As with other accounting roles, there’s on-the-job training involved that leads to professional qualifications.

For graduates, any degree is accepted, although qualifications in accountancy or mathematical, management or business subjects could mean you’re exempt from some of the exams needed to qualify. Large firms will often organise training and specify which accounting body you’ll train with – as mentioned above, it’s commonly the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA). Employers will often also provide study leave: this varies from firm to firm so compare packages carefully to give yourself every chance of success.

You will also gain exemptions if you’ve studied for the technician level-qualification with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) as a school leaver. Alternatively, school leavers can take an apprenticeship or study for the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting before moving on to professional qualifications.

Discover more about CIMA and other accounting professional bodies .

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.

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