Career Path

Management Accountant - a business all-rounder

by Ella Lee

Chartered Management Accountant
Paul Yeung
Finance Director
KGI Asia

Unlike financial accountants, who concentrate on analysing financial data, management accountants need to cover a wider sphere to evaluate business performance and to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of management - to see whether a company's resources are fully utilised, according to Paul Yeung, Finance Director of KGI Asia who is also a Chartered Management Accountant.

"Management accountants have to draw up performance reports, which compare actual outcome with targeted results, and reveal the reasons for them. They help in a company's planning and budgeting process, using current information to facilitate decision-making and forecast. They are less concerned with checking financial data for historical accuracy, and more concerned with analyses for forward planning," said Mr Yeung.

"Be Inquisitive and Be Fair, Be Friendly and Be a Good Communicator. These are the essential skills you need to become the future CFO apart from the technical and professional knowledge and experience."

As a result, both business management and accounting skills are prerequisites for a management accountant.

Mr Yeung points out it requires a wide range of practical experience to become a management accountant, who needs skills in planning, budgeting, forecasting, information management, costing, taxation, strategic decision-making and even law.

Inquisitiveness - an important trait

Since management accountants are required to understand thoroughly an organisation's operations and its related business strategies, they have to be inquisitive by nature, said Mr Yeung. It is also his motto of being a management accountant. Before joining KGI Asia, he had over ten years' experience in the banking industry and started his career as management consultant in major accounting and consulting firms.

"Inter-personal and communication skills are essential. One has to be outgoing and sociable to deal with people in different departments. You have to be confident and skillful in the way you ask questions, even when dealing with senior officials, as you need to scrutinise their results."

Management accountants should also have strong presentation and IT desktop skills, which are closely related to their work.

To become a Chartered Management Accountant, one has to pass all three levels of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) examinations (17 papers altogether) and need to have at least three years of practical experience.

Candidates with qualifications such an accountancy degree, may be exempted from some tests.

There is a Training-Through-Partnership (TTP) program, which is a joint project between CIMA and companies including Jardine Matheson and Shell in Hong Kong that accords recognition to the training employers give to CIMA students.

On completion of the three-year program, the CIMA student will qualify for professional status.

China Opportunities

Mr Yeung believes it is very important for Chinese mainland companies to adopt management accounting practices now that China is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Management accountancy, Mr Yeung explains, can help sharpen a company's competitive edge. He also believes there will be a strong demand for management accountants in future.

However, management accountants in Hong Kong must identify the challenges they face in the mainland.

Mr Yeung sees language and communication skills as one of the major challenges. "Because of our (Hong Kong) training and working environment, we are used to using English. Even though we know Chinese, the use of words is different. Also, proficiency in Putonghua is vital and is definitely a subject to be addressed."

On the other hand, Mr Yeung wonders whether the remuneration, or incentive packages, offered in the mainland for such jobs are attractive and rewarding enough to attract Hong Kong professionals.

Figures for reference only   K='000

Taken from Career Times 22 February 2002, p. 32
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