Technology and economic disruption are reshaping accounting and finance as we have known it for many centuries. This disruption is forcing management accountants to rethink their roles and functions.
Technology and Data Analytics
According to Esteban Quiros, CMA, global FP&A manager for Procter & Gamble it should come as no surprise that advances in technology will be a huge factor in experts’ 2020 forecasts. “The more tedious transactional work will continue to contract and get automated, Big Data and machine learning will enable insights and analysis like never before “ It is no secret that the rise of Big Data is enabling professionals to accumulate and analyze information at unprecedented scale. Management accounts will need to tool up to be able to know what to do with all the data and what that data is really saying to a company. Data Analytics includes a number of functions such as Data Engineering, data cleansing, modeling and visualization. Being able to slice and dice the information to deliver a clear message out of the data and provide actionable steps to make the most of those data insights will become the primary role of the professional management accountant.
Given the unknown future impact of the coronavirus, modeling based on multiple future possible variable sets has become even more critical, making this a key skill for navigating this challenging time.
Decision Making and Strategy
In 2020 company management accountants will be called upon to contribute to core strategy and decision making more than ever before. Automation will eliminate many of the core tasks an accountant handles. The accountant will become a business partner in leadership rather than just corporate bookkeepers.
This shift in focus and responsibility will require adopting a more holistic view of the business, and an increased focus on financial risks and mitigation strategies. Events around the world are forcing management accountants into the roles of decision makers and strategists says Cate Long, CMA, former VP at a global software firm. In 2020, management accountants should focus on risk management for strategic decision making. Advance planning and strategic thinking will continue to grow in importance.
Better financial forecasting will also be a key activity for management accountants. Current economic volatility and world reaction to the pandemic are making it more important than ever for management accountants to stay ahead of emerging trends shaping our respective industries and professions as a whole. By shifting the focus towards the future and modeling various scenarios and financial impacts the management accountant can proactively communicate findings to stakeholders in a simple and actionable way to facilitate more agile decision making and create a competitive advantage for their organization.
Management accountants in 2020 must learn to adapt to the realities of globalization. Gaining the training and experience to operate across global borders will enable the management accountant to bring real value to the companies where they work. Globalization is coming under increasing fire and scrutiny but for the foreseeable future, businesses will continue to grow and operate on a worldwide scale. Supply chain impacts of COVID-19, for example, will affect almost all businesses, whether they are currently global in nature or not. For accountants the ability to operate globally means understanding critical financial and compliance requirements, operating differences and market dynamics among other skills.
Management accounting is moving in new directions. It is not enough to be a good custodian of the company books anymore. In 2020, the survival of accountants will depend on their cross-functional skill set, agility, technical wizardry with cloud accounting programs and their ability to have a global perspective in reference to the companies they serve. Expanding and learning new skill sets for the accountant should be a primary consideration for 2020.