The bean counter is a role that is commonly associated with management accountants in many organizations. However, the professional role of a management accountant has recently evolved from that of a passively observed bean-counter to that of a more effective modern-day business partner.
The bean-counter role indicates a conventional cost-controller, a data accumulator, a data analyst, or a mere reporter on operational performance indicators involving numbers or key financial pointers. It represents the Management Accountant more in a policing role rather than an engaging partner helping as a team player to work for the accomplishment of strategic business objectives.
The emerging trends in the profession show that management accountants are extensively required and are assuming a more robust approach directed towards business goals in various organizations. Moving from the role of traditional functionaries to becoming business partners necessitates management accountants to embrace a business-oriented outlook in their perceptual as well as work settings.
The modern-day partnering approach is more business-oriented, strategy-focused, and expansively integrative. It requires the management accounting function to be able to use accounting information in line with non-financial performance indicators in order to draw authentic and holistic conclusions for potent decision-making. As a result of adopting a new approach in the profession, management accountants’ role is becoming more aligned with the strategic objectives of organizations, resulting in more value creation, increased efficiency, collaborative efforts, and performance improvement.
Management Accountants and Independence
One of the concerns about a more engaging role adopted by management accountants could be the compromise on the level of independence associated with their traditional role. However, the level of independence usually associated with the traditional role of management accountants turns them into policing or auditing characters, resulting in the complete isolation of the profession from core business contacts. Instead of being seen as partners in the decision-making process, they are narrowly perceived as information providers or accounting data analysts. The bean-counter role is often stigmatized with a negative image resulting in lower prestige associated with the position.
On the contrary, the modern business-oriented approach asserts engagement, elimination of communication barriers, and high perceived value resulting in more regard to the position of the management accountant. In this way, management accountants gain high esteem and are certainly in a better position to act more independently in analyzing or reporting important information for decision making. Therefore, due to the focus shift, the management accountant has become a more sought-after position in the business world, specifically in the industrial sector.
Management accountants with high esteem and prestigious positions more often exercise job discretion and can conveniently adopt job-crafting behavior for making their work more engaging. This helps them stay motivated and committed. Job discretion and job crafting are emerging trends, helping employees to create more and more work for themselves and also to alter their task boundaries within the confines of the broader work spectrum. Such a focus shift is helping management accountants to a great extent to emphatically apply their expertise in information processing for the overall benefit of the company.
For management accountants, shifting from a traditional role to partnering in business is more appealing and seemingly guarantees enormous prestige, greater independence, and added job discretion. They can play a more vibrant role in assisting businesses by supplying precise information for accurate decision-making which is essential for growth and prosperity.