Finance role expanding as complexity increases

10th July 2014

MGI World Finance role expanding as complexity increases

The role of a finance professional is always changing and now it seems they are expected to have a much wider array of skills and talents than ever.

Ask any accountant from outside the largest firms and they will tell you that the breadth of skills that they need go well beyond accounts and audits.

Now a new survey of chief executives, chief finance officers and other senior level Chartered Global Management Accountants (CGMAs) in the US shows their roles are expanding far beyond accounting and financial reporting to cover everything from IT development and cyber security to strategic business planning.

Conducted by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the survey found 93 per cent of respondents see their role becoming more complex.

“Increasing business complexity has become the new norm, and it’s not surprising that businesses are having to adapt and manage to the rapid change. As a result, organisations are calling upon management accountants to play a larger role than ever before,” said Arleen R. Thomas, CPA, CGMA, senior vice president of management accounting and global markets for the AICPA.

Almost nine in ten (85 per cent) said that the role of the CFO and finance function has expanded beyond traditional financial accounting and reporting. Expanded responsibilities include strategic business planning, IT development and cyber security, management and corporate governance, legal and compliance, and human resources.

And it’s not going to change any time soon. An overwhelming majority (94 per cent) see yet more complexity in the coming years.

Accountants who demonstrate a wider array of skills may be viewed as more valuable. Or at least practices that can draw on a wide range of talents, whether from within their own firm or from outside, should have an advantage.

Ms Thomas notes that most successful will be those who have the “strategic understanding to drive business and the financial understanding to mitigate risk and ensure compliance”.

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