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Finance pros have 'never had a better opportunity to progress their careers', CIMA report claims

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As a shortage of suitable talent stifles global growth plans, according to a report by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), sponsored by recruiters Hays.

The report, published this morning highlights how finance professionals have never had a better opportunity to progress their careers and make a real mark on their organisation.

'The fast track to leadership - the challenges, opportunities and action plan' concludes that as organisations operate in an increasingly challenging climate, a board's expectations of the finance function are becoming far more complex.

There is an increased demand for finance professionals to act as strategic business partners and help drive long-term sustainable success. This in turn places a greater demand on the skills and experience sought by organisations, especially in areas where management accountants can add real value and offer a competitive edge.

This report draws upon the personal experience of leading CFOs and finance directors to illustrate how management accountants can maximise these opportunities. They apply non-financial, qualitative information alongside the financial facts to inform decision making. Management accountants drive strong performance and are trusted to guide critical business decisions, bringing independence and objectivity.

CIMA and AICPA have formed a joint venture to establish the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation to further elevate the profession of management accounting.

Ana Barco, report author and head of innovation - talent management at CIMA, said: "In the more forward-looking organisations, finance is evolving from a focus on the transactional and cost efficiency areas to a real strategic focus where it can make a massive impact. This evolution is influencing the capabilities that finance professionals now need to demonstrate and bring to an organisation. It also highlights the exciting opportunities for CGMAs and those wishing to enter the profession."

"Despite many organisations cutting investment in training, highlighted by the CGMA Q2 Global Economic Forecast which showed that spending is predicted to decrease in the UK and Europe over the next 12 months, leading employers still recognise our ability to provide these capabilities and support business success. This is reflected by our new student growth, with over 26,000 joining last year."

Paul Venables, group finance director for Hays, added: "Organisations are recognising the critical role that the finance function plays in informing the strategic decisions that will define their success. Management accountants who can deliver technical financial expertise along with commercial awareness are in demand from employers and should take every opportunity to develop these skills in order to become the financial leaders of the future."