Management accountants form an important part of the financial team in private companies, public firms, and government agencies. They’re experts in assessing data, building business plans, and looking at an organisation’s “bigger picture” to drive companies towards their goals.
A role as a management accountant often focuses heavily on the use of data. Experts are responsible not only for managing risk and budgets but also for using the information collected by the company to unlock greater opportunities in the future.
As the accounting world becomes increasingly digitised, this also means the job of the management accountant involves using a significant amount of technology, from advanced software to cloud-based tools. If you’re planning on pursuing a management accounting role, here’s what you need to know about positioning yourself as the perfect candidate.
The Technical Skills of a Management Accountant
As a management accountant, your role will involve recording, analysing, and understanding numbers to help companies plan budgets and improve performance. This requires a significant amount of technical skill. To start, you’ll need the correct education; you’ll either need to have or be working towards an ACA/ACCA/CIMA qualification in most cases.
You may also find it easier to apply for jobs if you have a certification highlighting your skills in basic accounting, generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and tax principles. There are two certifications you can work towards:
- CMA: offered by the Institute of Management Accountants, the Certified Management Accountants certification is a specialist designation for financial management.
- CGMA: Offered by the American Institute in CPAs in conjunction with the London Institute of management accountants, this exam-based designation highlights your knowledge of management accounting skills.
The education you get in the accounting world will ensure you’re equipped to handle a range of common accounting duties, including:
- Creating itemised balance sheets, P&L reports, and financial statements.
- Managing the reporting and calculations of expenses.
- Managing stock movements, values, and associated usage of materials.
- Handling company payroll for monthly and weekly staff.
- Managing site overhead expenditure and budget control.
- Monitoring and evaluating key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Completing quarterly VAT returns and preparing tax returns.
As the accounting landscape continues to evolve, being able to perform in all of these areas will likely require a basic familiarity with various forms of accounting technology.
Learning to use tools in your accounting role can accelerate tasks normally done manually. For instance, you may need to know how to use Microsoft Excel for macros and pivot tables, ERP systems like SAP or Oracle, and reporting tools like Cognos.
The Soft Skills that Make a Great Management Accountant
While there’s a significant focus on technical skills and accounting knowledge for any management accountant, it’s also important not to underestimate the value of soft skills.
The best management accountants have exceptional communication, planning, analysis, and other talents, which help them to thrive in their roles. Some of the most important soft skills contributing to success include:
1. Analysis and Problem Solving
Management accountants are experts in using data to answer important questions. They’re essentially explorers, capable of going beyond the numbers and figuring out what certain figures mean for the future of the business.
As a management accountant, you’ll need to use the data you collect to create reports and deliver insights into the business for financial departments and team leaders. The information you collect will help you create visual reports around sales and stock movements, which other team members can understand.
Your analytical skills will also ensure you can assist teams with making important decisions on how to implement new software and operational processes.
2. Presentation and Communication Skills
Aside from gathering and understanding data in the financial landscape, reputable management accountants also need to share this information effectively with others. In the digital world, this could mean knowing how to communicate effectively using video conferencing tools, online chat, and in-person interactions.
Management accountants will also need to know how to organise user data into visual reports and insights, which are easier for other leadership professionals to understand. It will be crucial to summarise data effectively and provide insights into what it means.
Accurate, streamlined, and effective reporting will be a common part of your day-to-day role. You’ll also need to communicate effectively with people throughout the business, like invoice factoring partners and CFOs.
3. Leadership Skills
As a management accountant, you’ll benefit from working consistently on your leadership skills. You may have other people in the team you need to support and guide regularly, so you’ll need to be excellent at motivating and mentoring staff.
Management accountants must be able to organise their workflow effectively while keeping track of the performance of other team members. You’ll need to know how to keep track of your team members wherever they are, even in the world of hybrid work.
Many management accountants will be responsible for supervising small financial teams and providing accurate ledger management on a day-to-day basis. You may also be responsible for payroll for the staff of the wider business.
4. Collaborative Skills
The modern management accountant lives at the crossroads of financial analysis, strategy, leadership, and technology. The best professionals don’t just provide data; they offer translations of the information available, which move the business forward. As such, you must work effectively with a wide group of people.
You’ll often be responsible for working with other staff members to create reports for the stakeholders of the business, and you’ll need to feel comfortable working alongside IT teams. When planning your future career, it’s worth looking into ways you can boost your collaborative skills.
Keep in mind that collaborating in the new work age might mean working seamlessly with people in the office and external contacts.
The role of the management accountant is an important one for many financially focused businesses. These experts are crucial to driving the future development of a company and ensuring teams make the most of financial resources.
If you feel you have the skills above, then the next step is connecting with the right employers to seek out the best accounting roles.
Rebus Recruitment is an accounting recruitment specialist with over 18 years of experience assisting candidates in finding the best fit for their skills. Working with us will help you track down the right role for you as quickly as possible.
Reach out to us today via email or on 01282 930 930 to get started.
About Rebus Financial Recruitment
Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, ranging from various organisations, including SMEs, to large PLCs.
We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs, and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly. To find out more, contact one of our team today, or you can call us on 01282 930930.