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Tomorrow’s Management Accountants

By Alex C. Eng, CMA, CFM, CPA
January 1, 2018
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As we turn the calendar to a new year, many of us compile objectives for the next 12 months. Some of these goals are personal, some are professional, some involve family, and others are purely introspective. All have one thing in common: They seek to further define who we want to be—how we can reach our greater potential and walk a path we and others can be proud of. Using a baseline of lessons learned, we establish a vision of enrichment and, driven by excitement, set forth in seeing reality unfold in the headlights of optimism.

 

Needless to say, we’ve continued to witness some monumental shifts in 2017. From our electronic devices constantly flashing “Extra! Extra!” to our looking up at a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse, we no longer meet sensationalism and change with awe. Exceptions have become the norm. In the business world, commerce continues its exponential discovery into new frontiers. Equally important, our economies are no longer based primarily on the provision of specific products and services, but, rather, such tangibles are often given away in exchange for consumer data and the more-valuable behavioral analytics.

 

Our profession is no exception to this evolution. Traditional output on the general ledger continues to undergo increasing automation, and business partners demand more from corporate finance. Today’s management accountants are challenged by dynamic changes to their forecasts, greatly testing the robustness of their budgeting and planning process. Questions are no longer about “what happened” or “what will happen” but about “why things happened” as we seek to find the story behind the numbers and reproduce our success tenfold before our competition does. Management accountants are at the forefront of this evolution, analyzing metadata to formulate strategic analysis for senior leadership, integrating these skills to not only produce prospective strategy but also to see trends for operational groups amid the seemingly unlimited (and very inexpensive) availability of data. Tomorrow’s management accountants should rise above the profession’s historical competencies and stereotypes to be true business partners, just as those who are a CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) possess the ability to bridge what the business wants with the underlying customer and enterprise data stored by their organizations.

 

So as we enter 2018, pen our resolutions, and execute with determination to make a difference, let’s include one for our profession. Let’s challenge ourselves and our teams to continue evolving to be the management accountants of tomorrow, being agents of value creation, partnering with the business, and dynamically executing the four “sights” of a CMA: foresight, insight, oversight, and hindsight.

 

Carry on. I wish you all the best for 2018, and I invite you to share your thoughts with me at aeng@imanet.org.

 

Alex C. Eng, CMA, CFM, CPA, Esq., is Chair of the IMA Global Board of Directors and vice president, U.S. Corporate Finance at EDF Renewable Energy.
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