The number of individuals undertaking a management accountant course has increased by 20% year-on-year for the past five years, says Chartered Institute of Management Accountants regional director for Southern Africa Samantha Louis.
Management accountants focus on company performance and consider possible future business scenarios and the growth of a company. They investigate potential company growth, where the growth opportunities lie and how financial resources can be allocated to extract the most value.
“This is seen as a desirable career as it pays well and there is more of an interest in the business aspect as opposed to the audit side. A lot of entrepreneurs also do the course to increase their knowledge of finances,” says Louis.
She adds there has also been growth in demand from businesses for individuals who are able to understand strategy and numbers. “The role that management accountants play in an organisation has grown in importance, owing to the financial crisis, which forced companies to come to terms with the financial costs of their companies,” she explains.
She states the cost of a com- pany needs to be well understood, as it is not simply a matter of cutting costs but also looking at the impact on the company, of cutting certain costs in that spe- cific year, and also in future years.
Traditionally, people have been more qualified in the compliance and audit fields but now companies are grappling with serious issues, such as sustainability and the impact of their organisations on the environment.
Management needs to consider the costs of changing company processes to reduce their impact on the environment and it needs to calculate the length of time it will take to make up for the cost of that change, which is where management accountants play a significant role.
Meanwhile, Louis notes that, coming out of the financial crisis, other challenges are taking priority, such as South Africa’s growth, job creation and, allied to that, the skills that are required.