Accountant job descriptions are changing as the world of finance and technology progresses. Accountants increasingly play a key role in developing and implementing business strategy. Sometimes referred to as strategic management accounting, those in this area of the profession work with top executives on setting financial goals, creating strategy for acquisitions and mergers, and assessing risk.

This especially applies to those who have earned a graduate degree in accounting and prepared themselves for a more substantial role.

Professional accountants in business now make up more than half of all the accountants in the world, according to the International Federation of Accountants. That puts them in a perfect position to “drive successful and sustainable organizations.”

Advantages of Strategic Management Accounting

In strategic management accounting, the idea is to take the expertise acquired in advanced degree programs in accounting and apply it to make a business more efficient and effective. It’s a leadership role that a master’s in accounting program prepares accountants to handle.

A quality master’s in accounting program teaches students to:

  • Use innovative technology to interpret accounting data
  • Communicate effectively with executives, clients, and other stakeholders
  • Develop strong leadership skills
  • Understand the role of accounting in the development of short-term and long-term business goals

This is a textbook example of “talent stacking.” For those already adept at accounting skills, adding the leadership and business skills of a master’s degree sets them apart from others in the field. It’s a combination that hiring managers will notice immediately.

Accountants and Business Strategy

Many accountants who work in strategic management accounting have the title of management accountant. They often work with consulting firms hired by companies to come in and help the business break into a new market, acquire other businesses, and develop long-term financial goals.

Data drives business decisions in the 21st century. And accountants have insight into data that reflects all of the economic activities of an organization. They have perhaps the best overall view of the financial health of a company.

Current accounting professionals report the move to a strategic role has been happening for a few years. The accounting software and cloud company Sage surveyed 3,000 accountants around the world in 2018. Of those, 83% said clients are asking more from them than they did just five years ago. Forty-two percent said clients expect them to provide business advice as well.

The Role of Strategic Management Accounting

Setting financial goals. Accountants’ deep knowledge of the numbers – and the ability to use data to make financial projections – can help executives in planning future moves.

Acquisitions. Accountants bring exactly the right skills to the table when it comes to checking out other companies for potential mergers and acquisitions, spotting both areas of concern and potential opportunities.

Risk management. Accountants know how to get to the heart of the financial numbers involved in any deal or proposed plan, making them well prepared to analyze associated risks.

Accounting today goes beyond number crunching, ensuring regulatory compliance and tax work. Accountants are an integral part of business strategy. Earning a master’s degree can prepare accountants for this advanced, challenging role in their profession