It’s a good time to be a management accountant in financial services – not only are banks recruiting more people in this area, but a shortage of candidates is leading to some (slight) pay inflation.
Management accountants, on average, received salary increases of around 4.3 percent year-on-year in 2011, suggests research from recruiters Badenoch & Clark. Obviously, this isn’t huge, but any sort of pay rise in the current climate is not to be sniffed at.
This is largely down to their increased prominence within investment banks and other financial services organizations, which are looking to recruit – and get more out of – management accountants.
“The traditional role of a management accountant, which is very much a reporting function, is changing to a more commercially-aligned position,” says Peter Haworth, operations director, accounting and finance at Badenoch & Clark. “Clients are demanding more – business analysis that can add value to the front office and analysis and commentary that can help drive commercial decisions.”
“Management accounting is no longer viewed as merely a function of finance within the financial services sector,” adds Simon Lindrea, a director at Michael Page Financial Services. “The role has become more prestigious and prominent and plays a much larger role in supporting the decision-making processes of senior management.”
The ACA has always been considered the favored qualification for investment banks when it comes to recruiting accountants, but the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) has gained more traction in recent years which indicates the importance of management accounting skills.
J.P Morgan, for instance, puts its finance graduates through the CIMA qualification and BarCap now also sponsors its product control grad intake through the program.
Generally, CIMA appears to be increasing in popularity – in 2010 (the latest figures available), a record 23,000 students registered for the qualification
Nonetheless, our own figures suggest that you’re still likely to earn more with an ACA under your belt than a CIMA qualification. Average salaries for jobs currently advertised on eFinancialCareers that require an ACA pay an average of $103,000, while positions that demand a CIMA offer an average of $92,000 globally.
Haworth also suggests that ACAs are still viewed more favorably when banks look to recruit more experienced hires.
“The ACA remains a preference among our financial services clients, simply because the level of technical expertise attained during the qualification is still seen as superior,” he says. “Companies are demanding an ability to deal with complex modeling and data analysis and are willing to teach new recruits about their own systems or way of working.”