Job of the month: Contract management accountant

tid; ?> Jon Stringer on an essential role in the current financial climate

There has been strong demand for contract CIMA management accountants from commercial companies this year. With the role primarily focused on the future of the business, the importance of equipping the board with the necessary financial management tools for accurate forward planning has never been more pertinent in an economic market fraught with challenges across a spectrum of industries.

We have noticed lately that a high number of management accountants are looking to diversify their careers for a couple of reasons.

Not only can the rates be very attractive, but the opportunity to gain expertise across various sectors and business cultures is considered by many to be invaluable for their future careers.

For people relocating to the UK from overseas, contract management accountant opportunities are appealing for similar reasons. Seasoned professionals are also increasingly attracted by the enhanced work-life balance that contracting offers.

When recruiting for these roles, our clients have typically been looking for professionals with hands-on commercial expertise who are capable of delivering to tight deadlines at month end, and who have the ability to interact and engage with stakeholders in a non-technical manner.

In addition, they want people who can apply a common sense approach and consistently make informed judgements. So if you can demonstrate this type of experience, you are likely to be in demand at the moment.

Specifically, the applicants most suitable for these roles are those who not only have a thorough grasp on numbers, but also understand what these figures mean in a broader context.

Based on this knowledge, they are then able to recommend solutions that can add value to the business (e.g. allocation of resources, cost control or reviewing opportunities of increasing market share).

These decisions are all based on the financial position of any business at an exact point in time.

You will have a number of core responsibilities where you will have to demonstrate these qualities, which typically include conducting internal reviews, month and year-end reporting, establishing budgets, making forecasts and reviewing performance against KPIs.

Depending on the size of your employer, you may also be directly responsible for other duties, including accruals, accounts payable, accounts receivable, liquidity, working capital, depreciation, reconciliation, account ledgers, general ledger and trial balance.

Owing to the current financial climate, we are also seeing significant demand for people who can demonstrate a thorough understanding of the issues facing businesses today and deliver solutions in an ever-changing climate.

Management accountants who have qualified in industry (i.e. those with a CIMA qualification) are sought after for these jobs as they are able to adapt to market conditions.

Although fulfilling the technical requirements of the role is regarded as a minimum requirement, differing industries typically look for different types of qualities. However, the main emphasis in both SME and larger clients is on engaging with the business and providing solutions.

If you are successful in securing one of these roles, there are a number of opportunities subsequently open to you. Most excitingly, the mid- to long-term career trajectory could be to finance manager/financial controller, depending on company structure and size.

However, the core competency of the position is to be able to see through the numbers and make critical future business decisions at the right time.

The most influential management accountants pride themselves on being able to alter their approach and style, depending on the client and situation.

They typically view the role as not only producing accurate monthly or quarterly financial statements, but also play a strategic role at board level by proactively recommending solutions to the businesses challenges.

 

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