Attitude and longitude: Roger Malone reports on a CIMA study comparing the changing roles and expectations of financial managers in the East and West.

Author:Malone, Roger

Following the global financial crisis and the emergence of Asia as an economic force, the roles being undertaken by management accountants are changing at an unprecedented rate. This is one of the reasons why CIMA is working with the University of Bath School of Management to compare how financial professionals at Eastern and Western companies view their roles and their futures. The resulting research report, being written by Wim van der Stede, CIMA professor of accounting and financial management at the London School of Economics, will be published in association with the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) at Kuala Lumpur in November.

As part of the research, the institute and the University of Bath are surveying management accountants worldwide--CIMA members and non-members alike--to determine how their roles balance the various tasks associated with their profession and how they expect these to evolve. The survey also asks similar questions of managers who are, in essence, the internal clients of the management accountants. Financial professionals are increasingly being asked to help devise strategy in areas beyond calculation and data analysis. Van der Stede's report, which will expand on the messages of his keynote address at the WCOA, will consider the strength and direction of these trends.

In Asia, whose economies were spared the direct impact of the financial crisis and where many firms are only just entering global markets, are corporate leaders more content than their Western counterparts to let accountants retain their traditional roles? In the West, have failures in risk management accelerated the trend towards giving management accountants a stronger voice in core strategic decisions? Do accountants in the East see their responsibilities evolving differently from those in the West? Knowing the answers to such questions can help practitioners to appreciate the way in which their companies will evolve generally. There may be no "right" direction, since their evolution depends strongly on their environment, but financial managers who can understand the differences and see the overall...

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