The role of the finance team is expanding beyond traditional accounting and financial reporting function to include areas such as information technology development, cyber security and strategic business planning, according to a new survey by the American Institute of CPAs. 

The AICPA survey of 1,200 CEOs, CFOs and other senior-level Chartered Global Management Accountants found increased responsibility and an expanded skill set within the finance team. A 93 percent majority of the CGMAs surveyed reported experiencing greater complexity when they were asked to gauge the change in the level of business complexity over the last three years.

Thirty percent reported experiencing significantly more complexity, 38 percent said they had seen a moderate increase in complexity, while 25 percent indicated they have seen at least some increase. Less than 1 percent reported they had experienced less complexity.

Corporate executives don’t see matters improving soon. When asked to look ahead three years, 94 percent of the CGMAs polled said complexity in the business environment would increase further. Of those, 72 percent predicted a moderate or significant increase in business complexity. Conversely, only 5 percent predicted no change in complexity, and less than 1 percent said they expect business complexity to decrease in the next three years.

“Increasing business complexity has become the new norm, and it’s not surprising that businesses are having to adapt and manage to the rapid change,” said AICPA senior vice president of management accounting and global markets Arleen R. Thomas in a statement. “As a result, organizations are calling upon management accountants to play a larger role than ever before.”

Organizations are increasingly looking to the CFO and finance team to take on an expanded role. Some 85 percent of CGMAs said the role of the CFO and finance function has expanded beyond traditional financial accounting and reporting. Those expanded responsibilities include strategic business planning (58 percent), IT development and cyber security (55 percent), management and corporate governance (46 percent), legal and compliance (44 percent) and human resources (40 percent).

Looking ahead, CGMAs identified strategic business planning (69 percent), as the top skill they expected to be essential to perform their role in the next one to three years. Other skills identified as being essential to perform their roles in the future are change management (41 percent) and communications (38 percent).

The AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants recently launched a Competency Framework to help management accountants assess their current competency level and provide insight on steps they can take to expand their skills while meeting their commitment to lifelong learning. It is publicly available to any finance professional, employer or educator to benchmark their team’s capability, create job profiles or design curriculum.

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