What does a Management Accountant do?
The role of a Management Accountant is to perform a series of tasks to ensure the company’s financial security, to handle essential financial matters and to support leadership by providing accurate financial insights which contribute to key decision making. With an ability to determine the financial status and success of a business at any given time, a Management Accountant is a key figure within any business.
Fundamental skills that are required in order to be a successful Management Accountant, include:
A real aptitude for working with numbers;
A deep and genuine interest in finances and business;
High level of attention to detail and accuracy;
Superb problem-solving skills;
Excellent ability to make informed decisions;
Confident communication and presentation skills;
Being an eloquent and effective writer; and
Strong interpersonal relation skills.
Are there any similar roles to a Management Accountant?
Although the job titles sound similar, the role of a Management Accountant differs greatly from that of a Financial Accountant as it is solely centralised around the month end closure of business accounts inclusive of Profit & Loss. A Management Accountant also creates the Month End Management Accounts Pack on behalf of the whole team.
One of the more strategic aspects of a Management Accountant is to perform financial analysis forecasting to understanding Profit & Loss, budgets and measure the overall performance and financial plans of their company. Typically the person in the role will be responsible for reporting this key financial information and supporting commentary to the senior management team to assist in operational decision making.
Financial Accountants, however, focus more on the technical side of accounts such as statutory reporting, tax-related matters and liaising with external auditors to demonstrate the overall YOY performance of the company. On occasions, the two roles can crossover but this is very dependent on the size of the company and its finance team. Generally speaking, the larger a team or company more specialised and niche the roles will tend to be.
How do I become a Management Accountant?
There are multiple entry routes you can take in order to become an established Management Accountant, all of which have excellent potential for progressing to senior levels. An initial route in is to have an undergraduate bachelor's degree in Accountancy & Finance which will give you a solid grounding of knowledge and establish your critical thinking skills. This is a common path that candidates take to kick-start their career in Accounting. An alternative to obtaining an undergraduate degree from university is to study the AAT qualification while gaining experience working as an Accounts Assistant/Assistant Accountant within a business. This particular route can help give you essential practical training in order to learn the hands-on fundamentals of accounting and business functions alongside studying for your qualifications.
In addition to gaining the practical experience, aspiring Management Accountants often benefit from further study to enhance their knowledge by taking the CIMA Strategic level which enables them to become Professionally qualified, giving them official status as a Certified Management Accountant.
Depending on which sector the company is in, the skillset, responsibilities and requirements of a Management Accountant can vary. For example, in a manufacturing environment you will gain knowledge and understand of costings, stock and fixed assets, whereas in a legal environment you would learn more about work-in-progress and budgeting. However, for all Management Accountants it is essential to have a keen eye for detail and a genuine love for financial systems, process improvement and financial analysis in order to have a successful career. Possessing and developing these essential skills will suitably prepare you for additional management responsibilities as your career develops and progresses.
Typical Job Spec for a Management Accountant:
The general purpose of a Management Accountant is to handle essential financial matters, provide financial analysis and to support leadership by providing accurate financial insights to enable group businesses to make quick and informed decisions. A Management Accountant will often report into and support a company’s Financial Controller and contribute to the wider Operations team regarding all finance matters.
Core Role and Responsibilities
Preparation and reporting of monthly management accounts with appropriate commentary where required;
Ensure balance sheets and cashflows are accurate and reconciled;
Preparation of annual budgets and quarterly forecasts;
To manage the P&L and balance sheet;
Provide appropriate additional analyses to support the accounts;
Co-ordinate sales, purchase, cashbook and payroll ledgers to ensure timely and accurate closures each period; and
Represent the finance team to senior management on all finance matters including variances to budget on a periodic basis.
High level of attention to detail and accuracy;
Strong IT skills including ability to develop Business and Microsoft applications;
Confident and capable communicator of finance matters across the organisation;
Problem-solving skills and the ability to make informed decisions; and
An effective delegator and able to work as part of a team and alone.