5 Essential Business Skills Needed in Accounting

Print

It’s true that management accountants need the know-how to balance a budget, to complete a month-end report, and many other financial skills of managing a business. But other skills are equally important for success in our careers.

Mastering these 5 business skills will help you grow professionally and advance your career as a management accountant.

sp_commune

  1. Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

Open communication and collaborating with your team are keys to success. Writing skills are necessary for clear and coherent reports. A very wise business leader once told me that he knew he didn’t really understand something until he could explain it succinctly, in writing, to someone else. Working on presentations and collaborating on special projects with employees outside of your department will help you cultivate this skill set.

sp_organiz

  1. Organization

Managing your workload isn’t easy when piles of papers have accumulated on your desk for the past three months. Organized employees have the most streamlined processes because they know where to find what they’re looking for, whether it be paper or digital. Organize your digital filing system in a clear and consistent manner; make sure your files are properly backed up, and important schedules and documents are available to your colleagues in your absence.

sp_lead

  1. Leadership

Leadership skills are important for management accountants at every level of an organization. Taking charge of your work and your team will demonstrate your promotability. A leader emerges when the group is presented with a challenge, and one person demonstrates the commitment and competence to make sure the team delivers.

sp_time

  1. Time Management

Deadlines are an important part of our jobs as management accountants. We have regulatory filing deadlines and ever-increasing pressure for a rapid monthly close. Managing your time well reduces the stress of the deadline and allows you to prioritize your work. Streamlining the recurring work and completing it earlier in the month gives you more time to focus on new projects and innovations.

sp_tech

  1. Use of Technology

In the age of digital offices and video conferencing, we need to be one step ahead of the cyberfraudsters. This means you’re continuously scanning the landscape for improved processes and accounting software and leading (or co-leading with the IT department) its implementation.

Accountants as Business Partners

Professionals holding the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) credential are in the perfect position to be leaders in their organization. They have the balance of accounting and business skills needed to become trusted business partners. You can find learning resources, including webinars, online courses, and educational articles, at IMA’s website: www.imanet.org/learning-center/learning-center-overview.

Written by Doreen Remmen

 


PLEASE NOTE: In the spirit of collaboration, the Moments that Matter blog will be migrating to the Strategic Finance website later in August under a new name: “IMA Moments.” We are very excited for this collaboration. I would like to thank all of our loyal readers for following our blog for the past three years, and I’m looking forward to your continued readership.

 


Related articles

How Controllers Become Business PartnersStrategic Finance

Communicating Like a LeaderStrategic Finance

Save

5 Tips For Being a Thought Leader

What does being a thought leader mean to you? For me, it means being seen as the go-to source of information and being a beacon for future generations, whether that be teaching in the classroom or being a mentor in industry. Thought leadership can take many forms, including conducting in-depth research of tomorrow’s trends, publishing thought-provoking articles, and sharing knowledge with others on an individual basis. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up during my career as a professor and as IMA’s vice president of research and policy and professor-in-residence.

1. Stand out from the crowd
It’s important to keep an eye on competitors, but you’ll get more value out of creatingGroup Of Business People Listening To Speaker Giving Presentationdiverse, original material. Whether you’re speaking at an event or to your coworkers, offering relevant, timely, and accurate thought leadership shows that you are invested in your audience and their future. For example, IMA’s research is funded in-house and is authentic, original material.

2. Prove your credibility
Your products need to be credible. Conduct your own research, surveys, or studies andShot of a young female assistant using a tablet with her boss working in the backgroundprove that you’re capable of getting real results—that’s credibility. Also, getting your name out there by publishing articles, presenting at conferences, and speaking at events helps you become more credible. Being a thought leader means you’re the go-to person for information in your industry.

3. Show your passion
If you aren’t passionate about the thought leadership you’re producing, why produce it?  Make sure that what you’re writing, speaking about, or researching is worth your time—because if it isn’t, your audience won’t be passionate about it either. Thought leadership is only valuable if people acknowledge it. Showing your audience that you’re passionate about your work will also increase engagement, both online and offline.

4. Engage your audience
Understanding your audience’s needs will help you produce better and more relevant thought leadership. What do they care about most? You can find out by sending themGreat presentation! Group of happy business people in smart casual wear sitting together at the table and applauding to someonean online survey, or engage with them on social media, at in-person events, or via e-mail or phone calls. This will help you create loyal, long-term stakeholders that follow your thought leadership. In addition, studying the trends will help you plan for future research, publications, or speaking engagements.

5. Pass it on
Students and young professionals are the future of our profession. Passing on knowledge from educator to student, from supervisor to employee, and from peer to peer is an important responsibility of being a thought leader. Knowledge sharing is also one of the best ways to become a thought leader, especially since the growth of the digital landscape has made it a lot easier and quicker to share information.

Be a Thought Leader
Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen over night. It takes time to build your brand and become recognized in your field. IMA has become a thought leader in management accounting over the past 97 years. Our thought-provoking, relevant, and timely publications contribute to our overall success, and it all started with the goal to one day become a thought leader. Anyone can become a thought leader if they’re passionate about and persistent to achieving their goals.

Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson

Related Articles:
Building Effective LeadersStrategic Finance
9 Things True Thought Leaders Always DoEntrepreneur

Finding Your Life Balance in the Workplace

These days, it’s difficult to balance work and personal life responsibilities. For mothers working in business, it’s especially hard to work full time, take care of a family, and have a social life. Before my first daughter was born, I was working at a Fortune 500 company in New York City and commuting from New Jersey every day. After I had my daughter, it became difficult for me to maintain that long commute, so I made a career move to a nonprofit that allowed for a more flexible schedule. In today’s business landscape, there are a few things you can do to maintain your work-life balance.

1. Prioritize Your Life

What’s most important to you at this point in your life: your career or your family? When I was younger, advancing my career was my top priority. Working at a Fortune 500 Prioritizecompany early in my career showed me that I could be successful, but then I wanted something more. I wanted to become a mother, so family became my number one priority.

After I had my second daughter, I realized that I couldn’t do it all myself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help at work or home when you need it. I adopted the theory that it takes a village to raise a family. I was fortunate that I could rely on my parents to help with my daughters as they were growing up.

2. Make Time for You
Time for self

To alleviate stress and realign your balance, make sure you reserve time for yourself at least once a week. You can do recreational activities you enjoy but haven’t done in a while, spend time with family and friends, or find a new hobby (like knitting or playing an instrument). As a way to decompress after my first daughter was born, I would have a girl’s night a couple times a week or have a date night with my husband.

3. Ask for a Flexible Schedule

Make sure that your employer supports work/life initiatives. A company that doesn’t have such initiatives may not be a good fit for someone trying to balance personal and professional obligations. I’ve been fortunate to experience the benefits of a flexible work schedule since I have been in the nonprofit industry most of my career, primarily working from home once a week. This schedule is optimal for a working mother who needs to be home with her young children.

Employees tend to be more productive because they appreciate having the flexible work schedule. An IMA’s Annual Salary Survey revealed that a majority of respondents in the U.S. prefer a flexible job schedule over quick career advancement, which in turn increases their job satisfaction.

Keeping the Balance

Now that my daughters are grown, they are forging their own paths in the real world. They will have their own work-life balance struggles to deal with, so I’ll be there to help them along the way, like my parents did for me. Just remember what matters most to you, and you’ll find a way to keep the balance.

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE

Related Articles
Promoting Work-Life Balance From the Top Down – Jeff Thomson, Forbes
Mounting Evidence of Advantages for Children of Working Mothers – TheUpshot

How You Can Become an Influencer

As IMA’s President and CEO, I take pride in the organization’s global recognition as a leader in the accounting and finance profession. I believe that to be successful in business, you must be an inspiring leader and set a positive example for others in your business and industry – to be an influencer. Influencing others takes many shapes, and it is an attribute not just reserved for the “top person.” Here are a few tips to stand out as an influencer:

Know the Subject Matterpendulum
One way to become an influencer is to be credible, to be technically competent, and to be a master at whatever you do. That means keeping up with the latest trends and sharing knowledge with the people around you. To signal this competence, consider earning a certification, like the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant). Certified professionals have earned a mark of distinction and are trusted business advisors within their businesses. They also set the standard for others around them and are always working on continuous improvement – in their careers, businesses, and personal lives.

Commit to On-Going Learning and Growth
Being an influencer also means you are committed to continuous learning and growth, including on-going continuing education requirements as part of the commitment to your certification. This enhances your credibility as an influencer because it shows you are committed to not only staying current but also staying ahead, enabling you to provide relevant and, hopefully inspiring, advice.

Become a Mentor
Mentoring is another way you can influence others – whether you’re advising your peers, young professionals just starting their careers, or students via a college campus group (such as IMA’s network of student chapters or mentoring program). Sharing your knowledge with and guiding others is a great way to build your influence to nurture and develop great leaders of the future.

Listen Carefully
As a leader in your business, you must ensure you listen carefully and empathetically to your employees and peers. A good influencer doesn’t just hear what people say but listens to their advice and guidance in order to lead better. Influencing, much like mentoring, is a two-way street with mutual learning and growth for both parties. Be open to being an inspiring influencer and even an inspired “influencee” (yes, a new word!).

Engage imask2n Fierce Conversations
You will enhance your credibility and value as an influencer if you commit to a culture of challenge and engage in fierce conversations – avoiding artificial harmony at one extreme or personal attacks at the other, but rather embracing honest, genuine, and head-on conversations to solve issues. (Read Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott – this is one of my favorite books and has taught me a lot!)

Be an Influencer
IMA has set the tone in our industry by releasing timely research via the IMA Research Foundation, thought-provoking magazine articles via Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly, and educational webinars and courses to supplement CPE requirements for certified professionals. I will continuously work toward making IMA a strong influencer around the world to enrich careers, organizations, and the public interest.

Share your stories of how you’ve influenced others in the comments below.

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

Related Articles

“Jeff Thomson Named Among Accounting Today’s ‘Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting’” – IMA Online News

“How India Influenced Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg” – The Wall Street Journal, India

Women in Leadership: Power Your Way to the Top

There was a lot of excitement at the IMA® Annual Conference & Expo this year: the breath-taking city, the record-breaking numbers of CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certificates awarded during the year, and the passionate winners of IMA’s various awards. I want to take this time to spotlight the winners of the Distinguished Member Award, which recognizes IMA members whose successes, exceptional achievements, dedication, and professionalism bring honor to IMA and the profession. This year, two inspiring women received the honor:

fatemaFatema El-Wakeel, CMA, MBA, is the bought-out engine strategy and capacity planner at Jaguar Land Rover in the United Kingdom. She has held many complex leadership roles while working in strategic planning, change management, and financial management in different industries across the EMEA region. She has been promoting IMA and the CMA program in Egypt, the U.K., and Ireland and has helped IMA and the CMA become internationally recognized. While she lived in Egypt, Fatema founded the IMA Cairo Chapter. Then she moved to the U.K. to continue her education. She recently graduated from Manchester University with an MBA. Within the past few years, Fatema has worked to connect the U.K. and Ireland to the CMA program and is currently working to establish an IMA chapter in the U.K. In addition, Fatema’s picture is featured in the lobby of IMA Headquarters in Montvale, N.J., welcoming everyone into the building with her warm smile.

NiwNjAzBLeslie F. Seidman, CPA, is the executive director of the Center for Excellence in Financial Reporting at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University. She also is a director at Moody’s Corporation, a governor of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and is the immediate past chair of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). In keeping with IMA’s Mission and Core Values, Leslie supports female accounting professionals “so that they can reach their full career potential.” Most recently, Leslie launched the Women’s Accounting Leadership Series (WALS), which are events cosponsored by IMA and Pace University. This innovative forum focuses on both business acumen and career development, to help more women advance in the profession.

Blazing the Path
IMA and Pace University cosponsor the WALS events, which gather female accounting and finance leaders at all levels of their career to explore trends and topics important to the profession. Speakers at these events have included Leslie Seidman; Dr. Sandra Richtermeyer, former Chair of IMA’s Global Board of Directors and associate dean at Xavier University; and Kristin Bauer, partner at Deloitte LLP and former FASB Fellow.

ION_343_WALS - 2

From left to right: Dr. Sandra Richtermeyer, former Chair of IMA’s Global Board of Directors and associate dean at Xavier University; Kristin Bauer, partner at Deloitte LLP and former FASB Fellow; and Leslie Seidman, executive director of the Center for Excellence in Financial Reporting at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University.

When Leslie first discussed with me the idea of a women’s accounting leadership forum to network, grow, and learn (and to address real-world issues like the low proportion of females in senior accounting leadership positions), I too became passionate about the idea and asked Sandra if she would be interested in working with Leslie. The answer was a resounding, “Are you kidding, of course!” And now we have conducted two sessions with strong attendance and engagement. The WALS events have turned into an interactive forum for women to discuss and educate each other on both technical and leadership skills. It’s important that IMA support this platform as a conversation for career issues, current business issues, and more.

The next event will be held October 9, 2015, at PACE University in New York City. Sandra and Leslie will be joined by Sue Cosper, chairman of the Emerging Issues Task Force and technical director of the FASB. Sandra and Leslie plan to hold these events twice per year.

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

Related Articles

“Accounting for the Glass Ceiling” – Jeff Thomson on Forbes
“Supporting Women’s Accounting Leadership” – Jeff Thomson on Forbes
“Leading the Way – Women Leaders Matter” – National Association of Professional Women

 

Advocate Spotlight: Gerhard Mueller and Zhang Xinmin

Advocacy is very important to the success of IMA and the global expansion of the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) credential and the management accounting profession. As part of our advocacy program, every year we award individual advocates (members and nonmembers) for enforcing IMA’s mission and values around the world.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge a few outstanding people who helped make IMA the organization it is today. They make the moments matter for students, academics, and professionals around the world. This year’s winners of our Distinguished Advocate Awards are Gerhard Mueller and Zhang Xinmin.

gerhard mueller

Gerhard Mueller, CPA, Ph.D.
Gerhard (Gary) Mueller is a retired accounting professor at University of Washington, Seattle. He is known as the Father of International Accounting Education because of his early advocacy of international accounting recognition and education. Gary is also a former member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).

Although Gary isn’t an IMA member, he has advocated on behalf of IMA for many years. It began with the publication of his book A New Introduction to Accounting in 1971, his involvement in the Accounting Education Change Commission in 1989, and culminated in his support of IMA’s Consortium for Accounting Education Improvement, which produced the 1995 and 1999 Practice Analysis of Management Accounting.

zhang xinminZhang Xinmin
Zhang is the vice president of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing, China, and is a board member of the Accounting Society of China (ASC). He is well-known for having founded financial reporting quality analysis theory.

Zhang has helped IMA sign a strategic alliance contract with UIBE and has helped establish IMA’s Chinese Education Steering Committee, which promotes the management accounting education system established by IMA’s Higher Endorsement Program. With Zhang’s advocacy, interest in IMA and the CMA program has grown, and continues to grow, in China.

Advocating for the Future
On behalf of IMA members, IMA’s advocacy committees engage and suggest solutions to standard setters and regulatory agencies, such as the FASB, Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), and others.

In addition, our Campus Advocate Program allows academic leaders to be ambassadors for IMA. Campus Advocates are the key link between IMA and their college/university. They help shape the future of their students and the management accounting profession.

For me advocacy means supporting a cause or proposal in a way that results in a positive influence toward the cause. In the world of management accounting, advocacy efforts make a positive impact if they result in relieving management accountants from less complex accounting standards and financial disclosures. What does advocacy mean to you?

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE

Related Articles:

IMA Announces Winners of 2015 Annual Global Awards and Lifetime Achievement Award – IMA

Tips of the Trade: Making an Impactful Speech

As IMA’s President and CEO, delivering speeches and presentations to the IMA community are part of my daily job description. One instance in particular is the speech I make at the Annual Meeting of Members during IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo. Every year I try to make my speech more dynamic and impactful than the previous year. But you don’t need the experience of a CEO to make a powerful presentation. Here are a few things I keep in mind when preparing a speech or presentation.

bill presenting

Each year, the Chair, Chair-Elect, and I make a speech at the Annual Dinner during IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo. This is Bill Knese, former IMA Chair (2014-2015), making his speech last year.

Know Your Audience – It’s All about Them, Not You
IMA members come to the Annual Meeting for a few reasons, one of them being to hear about how the organization has performed on their behalf and what the future holds. It’s much like a meeting of shareholders in that sense; increasing the value of your membership investment in IMA is top of mind. The information isn’t always stimulating, but members get necessary and valuable information out of this meeting. It’s something they look forward to every year.

Avoid Tangents
Become very familiar with your speech or presentation before you take the stage – know your topic like the back of your hand. This will help you learn the flow of topics so that you can at least have a mental outline of your speech and “flex” (or be adaptable) to the needs of your audience. Also, keep in mind your time limit. Your audience might lose interest if you go on a tangent. Depending on the audience size and formality of the speech or presentation, you may want to ask your audience to hold questions until the end of your presentation to avoid tangents.

Be Personable, Be Genuine
Adding anecdotes to your speech or presentation helps your audience relate to the topics you’re talking about and, therefore, better understand the points you’re trying to make. Authenticity is key for making a connection with your audience – they’ll get to know you better, and you’ll be reassured that they understand the points you’re conveying. We are all human, and demonstrating you can walk in the shoes of your audience makes you more relatable and therefore influential.

animated presenter

It’s important to accompany your presentation with visuals and to be passionate about the topic you’re speaking about. This presenter from last year’s Conference loves public speaking!

Engage Your Audience
The content of your speech isn’t the only thing that matters. Engaging your audience is important for making a lasting impression and reinforcing the points of your speech. You can do so in a few ways: ask questions to facilitate conversation, ask for their feedback or opinion on a topic, or encourage interactive exercises in small groups. You should also include visuals in your presentation to keep the audience stimulated.

All in All, Be Passionate
These tips are worthless unless you’re passionate about the topic you’re presenting. This will make the experience more memorable for your audience, and they will more easily connect with your message. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re presenting to an audience of 1,000 or a small room of coworkers.

What are your tips for delivering an impactful presentation? What was your most recent speech/presentation about?

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

RELATED ARTICLES:

Five Easy Tricks to Make Your Presentation Interactive – Forbes
Preparing a Speech – Toastmasters International