The Role of the Management Accountant: 2003-2012

By Clinton, B. Douglas; White, Larry R. | Management Accounting Quarterly, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

The Role of the Management Accountant: 2003-2012


Clinton, B. Douglas, White, Larry R., Management Accounting Quarterly


How has management accounting changed during the last decade? How have management accountants' roles and responsibilities changed? The authors conducted a new study to find out.

In 2003, Ernst & Young and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) conducted a comprehensive survey that provided warning signals for the management accounting profession. The "2003 Survey I of Management Accounting" reported that management accounting (MA) was at a "critical juncture" as evidenced by shifting roles and practices, a recessionary economy, and an emerging range of MA techniques. (1) Since then, not many surveys have been conducted about contemporary roles and practices of management accountants. Also, after IMA discontinued its Cost Management Group, the frequency of survey data became scarce.

Even though a few more surveys about the profession have been published recently, we decided to replicate the 2003 survey to see how the management accounting landscape had changed from 2003 to 2012. Several notable watershed events have happened since 2003 that could clearly change the roles and practices in accounting as a whole, and most-if not all-of these significant events have impacted management accounting in one way or another.

Consider the following trends and events that took place during 2003 to 2012:

* Development of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) has globalized the perspectives of accountants around the world.

* Accountants have operationalized Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) compliance, and the financial statement audit has expanded to report on internal controls over financial reporting.

* Major financial frauds and failures have continued to occur, such as the home mortgage collapse, Lehman Brothers, Bernard Madoff, and others.

* The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) created a joint venture that recognized the global importance of MA and introduced a new management accounting designation: Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).

* The U.S. economy has continued to endure significant financial austerity, including the subprime mortgage crisis, increased capital market volatility, high unemployment, and the creation of unprecedented amounts of government spending/debt.

* China and India have grown to be world financial powers.

Every organization, family, and individual has been impacted one way or another by some of these historical landmarks. Although we provide limited discussion about these trends and events in light of how they may have colored the survey results, we encourage you to consider the impact of these events in shaping our reported findings.

OBJECTIVES

The primary objectives of the current survey were largely the same as those of the original 2003 survey, but we also considered the longitudinal perspective. The objectives were stated as questions in 2003, and we reevaluated them in the 2012 survey (2):

* Have there been fundamental changes in the role of management accounting?

* Do existing tools fulfill the changing needs.?

* Which tools are needed? Which are being adopted?

* What role have new technologies played?

* Which factors constrain or accelerate adoption of these tools?

SAMPLE, SURVEY PROCESS, AND DEMOGRAPHICS

We administered the 2012 survey in December 2011. The population consisted entirely of IMA members operating primarily in senior-level financial executive roles. The 2003 survey included a larger population and sample size of nearly 2,000 members, whereas the 2012 survey sample size was only 238. Nevertheless, the demographic makeup of the 2012 survey sample appears to be representative of the IMA population and is very similar to the sample obtained in the 2003 study.

First, IMA sent a link to the survey in an e-mail blast to 10,000 of its members. …

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