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December 1, 2010

Global accountancy profession split, says report

Table showing time management: Time accountancy firms reported on various roles CFOs working in the East and West have very different and clearly defined aspirations, as eastern countries attempt to catch up with Western practice methods, according to the findings of a report launched by CIMA at World Congress of Accountants in Malaysia earlier this month.

The report, Accounting Trends in a Borderless World, questioned 5,000 senior professionals, from SMEs to MNCs, and set out to reveal how accountants are spending their time, what they should do and what they would like to do on a day-to-day basis.

The report reveals that accountants practicing in the east – geographically defined as Asia – spend the majority of their time on accounting operations.

“What they [in the East] want to be doing is what we classify as management accounting, such as budgeting and forward-looking work. Accountants in the east are very hungry to expand their portfolio of work and take on more strategic roles,” CIMA’s Naomi Smith told The Accountant.

In contrast, the report found that, on the whole, management accountants working in the West – primarily made up of markets in UK, Australia, New Zealand and North America – already carry out much of this work and would rather focus on expanding their portfolio of tasks.

“Accountants in the west would like to be doing management support, which takes the job further”, Smith said, before adding that in the west there is a strong tendency towards cost leadership.

According to Smith, accountants in the East have performed well over the last few years and are hot on the heels of those in Western countries.

They are also prepared to make the move towards more sophisticated practice methods.

“In China, where the government is trying hard to privatise a lot of state owned enterprises, management accountants are perfectly well positioned to handle those structures in the move over,” she said.

This growth and development could however be hindered unless accountants are allowed more time to take on strategic roles in an organisation, Smith warned.

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